Okay, I agree, the title does seem a little harsh. But, it’s true. When experiencing writer’s block, there are really only two paths you can take. You can discover what helps you when you have writer’s block and find a way to work through it. Or, you can continue to overthink and avoid with the end result being a blank page. 

The topic of ‘writer’s block’ comes up often and almost anytime I see or hear a conversation about writing. I have both witnessed and participated in discussions about writer’s block on Twitter. And, the topic also comes up quite often in the classroom when I assign writing projects to my students. Writer’s block seems to be a phenomenon that can happen to anyone, at any level of writing, and at any age. 

Get in Your Feels

The reason you are experiencing writer’s block may be as simple as you’re just not feelin’ it. There are many reasons you may not be feeling the emotions needed to effectively push through your writing. Maybe you just got a bit of good news and you can’t put yourself in the right mindset to write a convincingly sorrowful scene. Or, perhaps you just got home from teaching high school English and your brain feels like mush. 

Whatever the reason, there is a surefire way to get yourself in the right mindset! But, it requires you to know yourself first. What is a movie, song, book, image, etc. that brings out the emotions you’re hoping to evoke in your own writing? For example, I have a Spotify playlist titled “Writing” that I play through when it’s difficult for me to get started. And, I often modify this playlist depending on the mood and tone of my current chapter. 

Choosing different media options to help you get in the mood for writing can work in many different ways. Trying to write a fight scene, but you’re not feeling passionate and your writing is falling flat? YouTube your favorite action scene for inspiration and a visual reminder of what a fight looks like. Do you need to write about a scene set in a graveyard, but you’re finding it difficult because you’re sitting in a well-lit and brightly painted kitchen? Create a spooky Pinterest inspiration board to sift through when you need to get your mind in the right place.

Don’t Be Gone Too Long

Have you ever taken a break from your writing just to find yourself at a loss for words when you come back? There’s nothing that will give you writer’s block more than if you take an extended break from your writing. The longer you go without writing the harder it’ll be to get back to it when you do come back. Giving your writing at least a little bit of attention each day will keep your mind focused on that piece.

Okay, I get it. This one isn’t really a tip for how to get over writer’s block. It’s more of a suggestion on how to avoid getting it in the first place. Don’t take a long break from your writing. Just, don’t do it.

But, let’s say you’ve already taken a long break from your writing and you’re finding it difficult to start up again. What should you do to break out of it?

Get Reacquainted 

If you have unfortunately taken a long break from your writing, and you’re finding yourself lost, it’s time to get reacquainted with your piece! Go back to the beginning, even if you’re 80 pages in, and reread everything you’ve written so far. This is something you can do anytime you’re finding it hard to push forward.

If you have created story notes, character charts, or an outline, it would be helpful to reread through those as well! Try to avoid editing at this time as you are just rereading to refresh your memory. Rereading everything associated with your piece will help you remember what has happened in your story and it will also remind you of your goals for the story. During the “get reacquainted” process, you may also find some pesky plot holes you’ll need to fix later! 

Keep in Mind

Scott Berkun, author, quote about writer's block.

When I find myself stuck in my writing it is often because I am overthinking every word I type. Each time I experience this, I try to remind myself of the Jodi Picoult quote, “You can always edit a bad page. You can’t edit a blank page.” There is no point in overthinking each thing you write down, because it is only the rough draft. There will be time to go back and make your writing pretty, but you won’t get anywhere if you focus too much on making it perfect the first time. Give yourself permission to write a true rough draft, and you’ll find that your writing will flow more freely than if you try to get it down perfect the first time.

Have you ever experienced writer’s block? What did you do to get yourself through it? Please comment your thoughts below!

2 Responses

  1. When I go back to look at my rough drafts, sometimes I call the content ‘writer’s vomit”. It is amazing how you can wake up in such a completely different space in your head from what you have written the day or night before. It works both ways however, you can read it and say to self, “self, that was pretty brilliant or who the fuck wrote this shit.” All to say, I agree so much with the just start writing something to get past a real or perceived block. Right on Mandy! Peace!

  2. My first drafts are the same (writer’s vomit)! Rough drafts are meant to be rough and not to be discouraged by. That’s always a good moment when you look back and actually like what you wrote!

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