Break Through: 25 Helpful Ways to Chip Away at Writers’ Block

 

One of the most frustrating aspects of being a writer is the void of inspiration that we experience from time to time.

Writer’s block has affected every writer who has ever touched pen to paper – from a few minutes to several years – resulting in missed deadlines, abandoned projects, increased stress, self-medication, grey hair, tempter tantrums, overeating, and a lengthy list of other consequences and pursued vices.

There is no “cure” for writer’s block (because if there were, we’d all have a lifetime supply of it), but there are ways to combat this perennial problem.

Thus, to facilitate the reanimation of your mind gears, here are 25 positive ways you can attack writer’s block in a desperate attempt to get back on track.

1. Surf the Internet

Every time I think I’ve seen or heard it all, along comes another wacky story that proves my hypothesis that crazy does not take a nap. For me, wasting an hour or so online is the perfect antidote to writer’s block because sometimes you literally can’t make this stuff up.

2. Watch TV

Not just any kind of TV; very trashy, guilty-pleasure TV, like your favorite soap opera (mine is “Days of Our Lives”) or reality show (any “Real Housewives” franchise will do). On one hand you’ve got flawed characters bound by an author’s script and on the other you’ve got flawed characters bound by a doctor’s script. Either way, it’s a recipe for disaster that’ll ease your boggled mind.

3. People Watch

One of my favorite pastimes is attending sporting events. Doesn’t matter which kind – baseball, basketball, hockey, whatever – because I don’t pay attention to the game. Instead, I eye-stalk my fellow attendees to observe all those quirky little things they do. Fascinates me. In lieu of stadium seating, try your local Walmart; there’s always a character or two snooping in there.

4. Get Out of Bed Earlier

It stands to reason that if you go to bed earlier, you’ll wake up earlier. Of course, for that to matter you’ll actually have to get out of the bed and get moving as soon as you wake up. Don’t hit the snooze, don’t pull the cover over your hear. Greet the day and get to work so you can relax later.

5. Call a Friend

Don’t call the one who’s sitting at home knitting. Call the one who’s at her wits’ end juggling three screaming kids. She’ll make for a more stimulating conversation and that’s exactly what you need right now.

6. Visit a Writers’ Forum

There are many other writers out there who are experiencing writer’s block the same time you are. Hunt them down online and find solace in a community of your peers.

7. Have a Brain Dump

Grab a piece of paper and a pen and write down the thoughts, words, and images that pop into your mind. Do this for five minutes. At the end of five minutes, take a look at what you’ve written and try to convince yourself you’ve “got nothin’.” Not possible.

8. Browse Your Social Networks

This is the online equivalent of people watching in person and I find it equally as fascinating. I love to scroll through my friends’ News Feeds to see what they’re up to and click on their links to articles, songs, videos, memes, and other Internet gems. This is a great way for me to learn something new everyday.

9. Read the Newspaper

An oldie but still a goodie. Perhaps the inspiration you need can be ripped from the headlines.

10. Drink a Glass of Wine

Some people can’t think clearly when their heads are clouded by alcohol, but I experience a surge in creativity when I’ve had a few. Keep a notepad and pen handy so you can record your thoughts when they start flowing.

11. Turn Off Your Devices

For some folks it may be beneficial to disconnect for a while in an attempt to declutter the mind. I’m not one of those people, but kudos to you if you find inspiration by going off the grid.

12. Make a List

Make a list relevant to whatever it is you’re working on. If it’s a fiction novel, for instance, list the defining traits of important characters, branches of their family tree, past lovers, what they like to eat – anything to help you move forward in the story. The goal is to force yourself to concentrate on the minute details instead of the big picture.

13. Play a Game

There’s a game on my phone called Brain Tuner (it’s a math game, no less) that I love to play when I’m stressed. When I resolve to return to work after five or 10 minutes of playtime, I feel sharper and more in tune with what I’m doing. I can’t explain it, but it works for me.

14. Engage an Editor

An editor who’s familiar with your work can offer advice and opinions on where they think the story should go. But tread lightly; you might be biting off more than you care to chew.

15. Talk to a Therapist

Sit on the couch and let it all out. Opening the floodgates of emotions may be just what the doctor ordered.

16. Start a New Project

If your head is jammed with what you’re working on right now, put it away and concentrate on something new. Inevitably, as soon as you start the new project, ideas will start springing up for the previous project. That’s just the way these things go.

17. Pump Up the Jams

Turn on the music and have yourself an impromptu dance party. Moving your body will rest your mind.

18. Look at Old Photos

Reminisce about the good ol’ days while conjuring up great (and even not-so-great) memories that can be used to inspire your work.

19. Hit the Gym

Exercise releases endorphins – feel-good neurotransmitters – that help you focus on the positive instead of the negative.

20. Cook Something Delicious

Cooking, for me, is an extension of my creativity. I enjoy whipping up a tasty dish to enjoy. And when my belly finds happiness and peace, my mind usually follows suit.

21. Take a Yoga Class

Stretch, flex and sweat your way to a clearer head. Om.

22. Schedule a Massage

For the next 60 minutes you don’t have to do anything but concentrate on letting those magic hands knead the stress from your body so you can experience euphoria.

23. Run a Few Errands

Close up shop and cross a few things off that list you’ve neglected. A change of pace is the perfect opportunity to recuperate and regroup.

24. Write a Letter to Your Enemy

Can’t think of anything to write? I bet you’ll have plenty to say when you pen a letter to someone who’s done you wrong. Do yourself a favor and write it on paper though. You don’t want to accidentally send an e-mail that your ex-wife was never meant to see.

25. Take a nap

And finally, the king of all writer’s-block-reducing activities – the ever-elusive nap. Turn off the phone, shut off the lights, and drift off to dreamland. We need a decent amount of sleep to function properly, and if you’re depriving yourself of it your work will suffer. This is part of the process, so don’t feel guilty about it. Just get some shuteye. Fitting in a few winks will (hopefully) have you feeling refreshed when you wake and ready to return to that thing you do best – changing the world through your written words.

Do you have a personal remedy for writer’s block? Any other suggestions to add to this list? Let me know in the comments below.

 

 

 

  • My personal remedy? Clear my desk. There’s nothing less conducive to writing than a desk piled high with unopened mail and un-dealt-with paperwork.

  • Except for the drinking one (I can’t drink; I’ll have a good cup of coffee instead), these are excellent suggestions. Two others that I like are going to the movies and going to a concert or show. The movies usually have you trapped with no other distractions but the story, and I almost always find other stories coming to mind. I’ve found listening to music with good lyrics, or even just the music itself, a catalyst for ideas.