Thursday, July 28, 2011

Take that Writer's Block!

So you have writer's block. Calm down. Relax. I've got it too.

"I think writer's block is simply the dread that you are going to write something horrible." (Roy Blount, Jr.)


  • Resign yourself to the fact that you have to write.
  • Exercise. 
  • Focus your energy. Rehearse the task in your head.
  • Stop the discouraging mental dialog. That's right. You CAN do this.
  • Listen to music.
  • Stretch!
  • Breathe. 
  • Snack. (Especially on cheese.) 

And if none of those work...well, you've always got wonderful resources like this:

When I get stuck all I need is one idea, one spark to get me going again. James Scott Bell in Plot & Structure suggested something I'd never considered before: the list.

Dun dun dun!

What is "the list" you ask? It's a collection of nouns, random words that pop out of your subconscious, bringing with them passion-inducing memories. Because writing comes from the heart, these nouns should prompt an emotion, and that emotion should be enough to get your fingers flying.

To illustrate I'll share one of mine: Honey.

My mom would collect "honey" orders from our neighbors and coordinated fresh deliveries once or twice a year. Every time the honey guy came we'd receive a whole bunch of extras, but the very very best part were the honey sticks. Imagine pixie sticks--but clear plastic, filled with golden sticky liquid. One particular year I recall dueling with honey sticks, me and all of my siblings, in the front yard near dusk. Magic.

Now, imagine taking the power of one such memory and infusing the emotion with your current scene. All I can hear is a big fat "WIN"!

Those are some of my methods for kicking writer's block back into his ugly corner. How do you deal with writer's block? What do you do to overcome it?


  1. AHH! That is an amazing post! I usually listen to music, I think I have to many ideas to be struck down with writer's block--I'm too active, and being only 18 years old I have a lot of energy xD so I have yet to see the ugly monster named Writer's Block!! (:

  2. I haven't written a whole lot lately, but I'm not calling it Writers Block yet. More like I'm Overwhelmed with Life Right Now, which takes away from my creativity. I love your ideas of the memories, though. Good luck!! (and yes, cheese always helps)

  3. Great post! Writers block is a very annoying thing to catch and sometimes very difficult to overcome. Wonderful tips though, and they do really work too! :)

  4. Me, I usually give myself a break for a day or so, then if things really aren't rolling, I'll bust out Naming the World or The Complete Idiot's Guide to Beating Writer's Block and have a go at the prompts. That usually does the trick!

  5. I love the images you picked. :-)

    I used to try everything to force words out, but then I realized that blocks are my mind's way of making me slow down so that I can figure something out that I might not be noticing right now.

    So... now I just chill out and wait for my block to go away. :-)

  6. I play my guitar. It makes my mind go still and I can think clearly. That and I just enjoy jamming.

  7. Great idea to get going. I like to go take a walk, or try to go to sleep. Most of the time if I try to go to sleep I can't sleep because I'm thinking about my story. Excellent! If I can sleep then I just got a nap :P

  8. Joseph--you are young. Give it time eh?

    Erica--I know exactly what you mean.

    Crystal--those sound like great resources.

    Misha--I think you're exactly right. It's not until I took a break and read a book (ahem, series) that my block dissolved.

    Alex--great remedy. Sometimes I sit down to the piano for an hour to loosen up, or find an isolated room and sing my guts out.

    Christine--sleeping it off eh? I wish that worked around screaming kids. =)

  9. Excellent advice, love it! Thanks for stopping by Heather's Odyssey and for following. It's nice to 'meet' you!

  10. Exercise! Never would have thought, but I'm heading to Yoga tonight. Good suggestions.


Hit me with your cheese!