Overcome Writer’s Block With These Simple Tips

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I knew I was in trouble when walking past my office made a knot in my stomach. I’d circled burnout before. I had to figure out a way to get back on track. Fast. When you make your living from your words you don’t have time for things like writer’s block. Unfortunately, they still happen.

Writer’s block feels like an illness you can’t figure out. There’s a sort of unsettled feeling. Uncomfortable. Like you’ve just pulled on a pair of itchy pajamas or are laying in a bed strewn with sand.

You might try to numb the feeling. Alcohol, Netflix binges, and food all work temporarily. Maybe you try to outrun it, keep pushing through and writing something — anything — just so you don’t become immobilized. You might switch gears and work on fiction if you’re normally a nonfiction writer, or write poetry if you usually write novels.

But be assured: writer’s block is just part of the writing process.

Why Do We Get Writer’s Block?

We get writer’s block because writing is hard work. Let’s not pretend that the practice of writing is jam-packed with unicorns and fluffy teddy bears who shower us with glitter as we walk to the lollipop river. Writing is a challenge. Hemingway said so.

I have to write to be happy whether I get paid for it or not. But it is a hell of a disease to be born with. ~Ernest Hemmingway

This doesn’t let writers off the hook though. Lots of things in life are challenging and we still do them.

Chances are you:

  1. Take care of kids
  2. Work a full-time job
  3. Help your elderly parents
  4. Volunteer in your community
  5. Serve on a nonprofit board
  6. Take care of someone who’s sick
  7. Keep your house clean
  8. Keep your family and/or pets fed in addition to everything else on this list then you already know about challenges.

Life is full of hard things, boring things, things we’d rather not do. But we do them anyway. So why can’t we just power through writer’s block? Why does it feel insurmountable when you’re staring at the blank screen, cursor blinking?

Where to Start When You Have Writer’s Block

When you feel harried, stressed, and overwhelmed, how effective are you? Not very. Inspiration comes from a place of peaceful stimulation. So, let’s look at our lives.

What’s our weekly schedule look like? Where do we have downtime? We need that to be able to daydream, relax or chill offline. Our brains need breaks.

Writing should be fun. Many writers describe it as an outlet, as therapy, as a way to go deeper within.

If you are dreading writing because of writer’s block, brainstorm some ways to make the time more enjoyable. Try setting a timer and trying to beat your words-per-minute, light a scented candle, or gather inspiration by doing a little research for your book. Just don’t give up. Don’t put your writing aside indefinitely. It will be 500 times harder to pick it up again.

Here are three other solutions to writer’s block.

Simple Tips to Overcome Writer’s Block: Refill Your Well

Step #1: Rest

That’s right. I’m giving you permission today to take a break. Put your feet up. Rest on your laurels. Recharge your creative batteries. Creating from an exhausted state is nearly impossible. And when you add stress into the mix things get ugly very quickly. We don’t want ugly.

But resting won’t cure writer’s block, right? That’s true.

So, take a big, deep breath. This next assignment won’t be easy. We’re going into territory that few of us like. It’s important though, maybe even imperative in your writing journey.

Step #2: Give Up Stuff

Give up some things you’ve been doing. Just don’t expect your family to cheer you on when you tell them that they will have to start making their own dinner once a week or putting away their own laundry.

You aren’t likely to hear enthusiastic “hurrahs!” from volunteer boards when you step down. The other moms at the school might not understand that, no, you can’t bake another batch of cupcakes. It is someone else’s turn.

That’s okay. Stick to your decision. If you want, make it a challenge to see how many things you can give up without it wreaking havoc in your life. Or do this with a friend. Whoever lets go of the most obligations in the next 10-day period, wins.

Step #3: Schedule Creative Time

When I say, “Free up 30 minutes a day to nurture your creative side,” what comes to mind first? Incredulity? Uncertainty. That’s okay and very normal.

Still, don’t give up on the idea. Could you try it? Giving yourself the gift of time and energy needed to become a writer is essential.

Yes, you say, you’re going to try it.

Great. First, take yourself on a creative field trip. Browse the library and look for good fiction to read. Buy an anthology packed with short stories in your genre. Or, go in a completely different direction and don’t do anything related to writing or words. Instead, spend your lunch hour at a museum or art gallery, or craft shop. Take a walk and snap some beautiful nature photos.

Writer’s Block Rehab? It Starts with Nurturing Yourself

Getting over writer’s block doesn’t happen magically. But it will happen if you learn to loosen up and let yourself create from a place of inspiration. Sometimes the best book ideas come to authors when they’re thinking about something completely unrelated to their subject matter.

Please, don’t push so hard. Don’t try to force things to happen. Trust that when the time is right, the idea will come. Enjoy the process. Relax. Take some big, deep breaths. Look for new things that inspire you.

Whether you’re just beginning on this fiction writing journey or have been writing for years and are experiencing writer’s block, I hope that these tips help.

Joy Choquette ghostwrites for clients and pens suspense novels from her home office in New England…where she fights writer’s block by making art, spending time in nature, and reading great books. Sign up for her fun monthly newsletter where she shares resources, personal stories, and weird bits of trivia.

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Ghostwriter by day, suspense novelist by night. I write about health and wellness, self-improvement, professional development, and of course, writing.

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Joy Choquette

Joy Choquette

Ghostwriter by day, suspense novelist by night. I write about health and wellness, self-improvement, professional development, and of course, writing.

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