9 Ways to Overcome Writer’s Block

Today’s guest post is by Rachel Harclerode:

Writer’s block is a strange phenomenon that almost every writer experiences. While there can be different causes for it, the effect is always the same. Something in your brain prevents ideas from flowing and stops the communication between your head and your hand that’s hanging purposelessly over a blank sheet of paper.

Every writer knows the symptoms: zoning out, glancing around for ideas, churning stomach, feeling like your mind is turned on but the gears aren’t rotating. You’re desperate for inspiration.

Here are nine ways to work through your writer’s block and get the words flowing again.

  1. Step away from your writing for a little while.

Sometimes you spend so much time looking at or thinking about something that it no longer makes sense. You become so accustomed to what you see that you can’t form any new ideas or perspectives.

Give yourself a break from whatever piece you’re stuck on and return to it with fresh eyes later. Put it away for a night or a few nights, sleep on it, and see if your perception of the piece changes.

  1. Read others’ work for inspiration.

While you want to avoid plagiarism, sometimes you need to read others’ work to expose yourself to other ideas and styles of writing.

This step can also unblock passages in your brain that allow emotions and ideas to flow again. If you want to write a piece about loss and sorrow, read a piece about loss and sorrow. If you want to write a piece about overwhelming joy, read a piece about overwhelming joy.

Give those emotions a chance to ignite inside your head, and it will be easier for you to transfer them onto paper.

  1. Close your eyes, then write about the first thing you see when you open your eyes.

This one seems silly. It is—and it can be. Sometimes all it takes to get your creative juices flowing is to start writing about anything no matter how strange and dull it may be.

Close your eyes, point your finger, turn in a few circles, and then stop. Open your eyes. What’s the first thing you see? Write about it. This can be in the form of a poem, a short story, or even a song.

  1. Make a list of all your ideas.

There has to be a first step in writing. Your writing process is going to be unique to you and can vary depending on the genre or type of publication you’re writing for.

Sometimes a list is a good place to start; it can help you organize your thoughts and get your initial ideas down on paper.

There are so many ways to go from here; you can arrange the list in order of importance, elaborate further with sub-bullet points, or immediately begin writing the story.

  1. Don’t think. Just write.

Sometimes it’s tempting to plan everything out. If you’re like me, you like to know the beginning, middle, and end before you even get to that point in the story. But planning can restrict your creativity.

Before you think, just write. Don’t worry about grammar or sentence structure; let yourself write without any boundaries and lose yourself in the process.

This method is quite the opposite of number 7, however, different methods work for different writers. Try both to see which one works better for you.

  1. Go on an adventure.

Writing is easiest when you write from experience. If you’ve already grown tired of writing about all of your favorite experiences, make some new ones.

Take a trip to the beach or a city you’ve never been to. Introduce yourself to a stranger and start a conversation. Try something you’ve always been afraid of doing. It doesn’t matter what it is; get out there and create an experience that will leave you itching to pour it all out onto a piece of paper.

  1. Write really early in the morning or really late at night.

This one might seem unorthodox, but that’s okay. Sometimes you have to step away from what’s ordinary in order to gain a better perspective of your writing.

I know I write best when most people aren’t awake. I almost never write when the sun is up. Any time between midnight and six a.m. is when words seem to flow the most smoothly from my brain to paper. There’s something about the early morning hours that activates deeper thoughts.

Whether you’re up at four a.m. because you’re a night owl or because you’re an early riser, use that time to access deeper parts of your brain that are less active in daylight.

  1. Change the scenery.

You may have a favorite writing spot or spots. Writing in your bedroom or at your kitchen table might be the easiest options. But change it up.

Instead of pulling out your laptop or journal and curling up in bed, take a walk. Sit down somewhere new and start writing. Maybe a change in scenery is all you need to ease the block in your head.

  1. Find some of your old writing.

Search through old journals and files on your laptop. Go back as far as you can. Choose one you remember feeling really good about writing or one you felt really bad about. Choose one that was really important to you.

Now rewrite it. Rework the piece so that it’s a reflection of who you are now. Maybe this involves editing a few sentences or maybe it means completely rewriting everything. Change your voice, tone, sentence structure, or whatever else you feel needs to be changed.

Compare it to the original piece. Has your style changed? What about your writing is different? Do you notice any changes that you remember consciously making over time or were they all gradual?

This exercise should give you a better sense of who you are as a writer and therefore, help give you a better sense of what you want to write about. You might even discover a storyline you came up with years ago and want to take a different approach on.

Writer’s block is frustrating and time-consuming. But there are ways to overcome it. Try one or all of these tips, and you will be writing again in no time.

Download this beautiful PDF with 20 inspirational tips to help inspire you and beat writer’s block! Pin it next to your computer! Click here to get your downloadable PDF.
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Rachel Harclerode is currently studying Professional Writing at York College of PA. She hopes to become a travel writer and publish young-adult fiction novels. Contact Rachel via Twitter or Facebook .

6 Responses to “9 Ways to Overcome Writer’s Block”

  1. George McNeese October 26, 2016 at 10:09 am #

    These are some great tips. I think I’ve done half of them. I took a break from writing not too long ago because I felt like it was becoming more a chore than fun. I like the idea of picking a random object and writing about it. I think it would force me to write on the fly, write everything that naturally comes to me. I also like the idea of comparing earlier stuff to what is current. When I look at what I wrote before and think about how I write now, I think the difference is significant.

    Great post.

    • Rachel Harclerode October 26, 2016 at 12:07 pm #

      Thank you!

  2. julie mayerson brown October 26, 2016 at 3:16 pm #

    Good ideas here, Rachel. When I struggle to write, I find I’m not “blocked” so much as I”m distracted. Distracted by what? Oh, you name it – chores, dogs, hunger, need/want caffeine, the INTERNET… solution: go to the library, sit my butt down, turn off Internet access, and focus on one project. Usually that works. If it doesn’t, I bake cookies 🙂
    Good luck!

  3. Kathy October 26, 2016 at 7:25 pm #

    I tried to print the PDF so I could be reminded of how to overcome writer’s block, but it would not print even when I downloaded several times. I like to have these reminders but must be content to just rely on my memory which is sometimes stuck in 3rd gear! It’s a great article though and will just refer to it and try to keep writing despite my trying times.

    • cslakin October 27, 2016 at 6:18 am #

      Sounds like a problem with your computer sending to your printer. If it downloaded, can you open it and view it?

  4. Tina October 26, 2016 at 8:39 pm #

    So inspiring. So much to be learned from one another. The wonderful part of being a writer, is it is a perpetual path to self-improvement and never boring

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