Fighting Writer’s Block

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Do you have “writer’s block,” an inability to continue with your writing? People sometimes stare at a blank page or computer screen and can’t seem to get the words out no matter how hard they try. Has this happened to you?

Well, I’m here to tell you that there are a number of solutions!

Outline your ideas

If you can’t make forward progress on your book, it could be that you’re not ready to write the next section. Personally I cannot write any substantial piece without outlining first. Make sure you know where you’re heading. It could be that the “block” is simply your common sense saying that you’ve headed in the wrong direction. If the words don’t fly off the keyboard, go back and make sure you’re on board with the flow of the story.

If you started your book without an outline and can’t seem to continue, go back a step and put together an outline now. It will help! You may discover that the last few chapters weren’t meant to be. That’s okay. Scrap them and start afresh from the point where you feel the story worked. Then follow the path of your outline and things should straighten out.

Force yourself to write something, anything

If you’ve outlined and know where you’re going, but just don’t “feel like writing” then you may need to prime the pump. Just like with a dry water pump (which needs to be “primed” with water to get started), you may benefit from simply flowing words onto paper.

Here are some ideas:

  • Write emails to your friends
  • Make a to-do list for the next day
  • Write in a journal (or create one if you haven’t already)
  • Start a blog

It really doesn’t matter what you write, so long as you write!

Work on a completely different project

If you are anything like me, you have multiple writing projects going at the same time. I usually work with a few clients, who have very different needs, books of different genres. Also, as a hobby I write haiku and science fiction short stories. Having different projects working at the same time keeps me on my toes! I like it that way.

If you’re stuck in the middle of a novel, try writing a nonfiction piece. If you’re a professional writer, seek out clients from a new genre or simply volunteer your time for a nonprofit. Get your creative juices flowing in a new direction.

If you are working on a technical report and are experiencing writer’s block, take a break and write dialogue between two co-workers. Create a scene, which might turn into a short story.

When you feel you’re doing well again, switch back to the technical project and get writing again.

Surround yourself with supportive people

Writer’s block can be a symptom of invalidation from peers. If you have “helpful” friends who jokingly tell you “not to quit your day job,” this can be damaging to you as a writer. The only purpose of such comments is to get you to stop writing. Don’t consult these people. Surround yourself with good people who have your best interests at heart, who want to see you succeed.

This isn’t to say that constructive criticism isn’t very helpful to a new (or even an experienced) writer. We can always improve and grow. I personally LOVE it when some kind soul writes in to tell me I have a typo in a blog article. It is very helpful to me.

Look at the intention behind the comment and how it makes you feel. That will help guide you where to file the suggestion. Do they compliment your work, while gently pointing out errors? Or do they slam you at every turn?

Please check out my article “Feedback Versus Criticism” for more information.

If you need advice or help in the area of writer’s block, please don’t hesitate to email me!

Laura Sherman (113 Posts)

Laura Sherman, a.k.a. “Laura the Friendly Ghostwriter,” is a professional ghostwriter and author. She enjoys writing fiction and nonfiction and is happiest when juggling multiple projects. She recently authored “Chess Is Child’s Play” to introduce the next generation to the game of kings and queens. As a parent of three, and one of the top 50 women chess players in the United States, Laura wrote this book to teach any parent to teach any child, of any age, to play chess.