5 Tips to Get Over Writer's Block


Writer's block. Believe it or not, I have it right now as I prepare to write this post! It seriously sucks. One minute you sit with an excellent framework, idea, or even just a concept, and the next minute, as you sit down to write, it's almost as if the idea never existed in the first place. Drawing a blank not only prolongs the writing process, but it discourages us, forcing us to focus more on the fact that we can't find the words instead of clearing our minds enough to let them begin to flow.

So, are you ready to kick writer's block's butt? Here are 5 tips I've found that help me during the writing process.

1. Don't force it.
It's easier said than done, but sitting at the computer and staring at the cursor will only frustrate you more. The blank page signifies how much progress you haven't made, and (for me, at least), that freaking blinking cursor makes me feel like it's waiting on me to get a move on. By forcing the writing process, you sacrifice your quality of work. Look for a healthy distraction. Grab a quick snack. Refill on coffee. Or, something that's my favorite, Google something that relates to your topic and skim the results; at the very least, you'll gain inspiration for your first sentence (notice I said inspiration. Don't plagiarize!). Being a writer doesn't automatically mean that every sentence will flow freely. At times, we get stuck! And the first few sentences is always the hardest. Find a healthy distraction that will allow you to come back to your work with a clear head.

2. Change your setting.
For me, sitting at a computer screen in silence is the absolute worst way to get me to crank out something of quality. In college, I ditched the library desks for a seat at the tables in Starbucks, the sounds of espresso machines, baristas, and study groups' chatter filling the room. More often than not, I'd invite a fellow English major to join me as we knocked out 10+ page papers using each other as inspiration. Today, I can only really write on my phone using the Evernote app. No matter where I am, when I pick up my phone to write, it flows so much easier. Once I'm finished, I send it to myself, hop on the computer, and edit away. So search for the method that helps you work best. Don't stick to the traditional computer desk if you find it increasingly hard to focus; take your laptop outside! Use your phone to record your voice notes as you speak the things you want to write and transcribe the voice note later. Welcome unconventional methods. After all, your writing is unique, shouldn't the process be as unique as you?

3. "Write drunk, edit sober." -Hemingway
Although Hemingway probably really wanted you drunk, I'm not taking his quote so literally. But I do find it best to write when the passion is strongest. If I'm feeling super inspired, I spill my thoughts into my phone, almost in one stream of consciousness, and go back and doctor it up later. Same goes for emotional writing. My best blog posts have come to me when I've been sad, angry, or overjoyed; knowing I'm in the heat of those emotions makes it easier to create something I'm proud of. The editing, however, comes once my head is clear again. And hey, if it really is your thing, write drunk ;-)

4. Create an outline.
Writer's block often comes from being disorganized. Creating an outline not only helps you organize your thoughts and writing points, but it helps you feel better prepared when it's time to tackle the actual writing process. This outline doesn't have to be formal with Roman numerals and bullet points; it can be in the form of sticky notes on the desk or short phrases in your phone. You know yourself better than anyone, tap into whatever makes you feel organized enough to clear your head and make writing a breeze.

5. Give yourself time to procrastinate.
Writer's block strikes at the most inopportune times, and unless you give yourself a big enough window to breathe, step away from your work and gather your thoughts, you'll feel the pressure to crank out something--anything--in order to complete your paper, article, or blog post in time. More often than not, that "anything" won't be your best work. So whether you need to close out your document to search Google for inspiration or step away from the computer and towards the wine bottle, give yourself enough time to do it without pushing your deadline.

Do you have any tips for combatting writer's block? Share them with me!

3 comments

  1. That's a great quote and these are wonderful tips indeed. Thanks for sharing.

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  2. I definitely leave by the 3rd point. I always like scribbling or typing away, when I have loads in my mind and go back to it later when I'm able to edit with a clear mind. No. 2 also helps!!


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