Four Ways to Deal with Writer’s Block

What are your tips for dealing with writer’s block? That’s definitely my biggest fear/frustration. 

 

This question came in a recent post about writing, and I wanted to share some thoughts.

  1. Pray. Yes, pray. I stop trying to write and pray. The Lord is the Author of creativity, and He knows exactly what the story needs! I’ve often found that praying gets me back on the right track.
  2. Leave the computer, and go do something. Even in the midst of tight deadlines, it’s okay to leave your writing for a few hours. Go take a walk, bake something, eat chocolate (ha, I do that regardless of writer’s block!), go run an errand, whatever. That break often gives the needed energy and drive to get back to writing.
  3. Ask others. It’s a common practice in writing circles to have critique partners. I’m so blessed because critique partners live right here! If I’m stuck, I talk through it with a family member. Seriously, sometimes in less than a minute, they’ll have the idea needed to move my story forward. Or, just talking through the scene gives me a fresh idea.
  4. Move on. If the first 3 points don’t work, I’ll simply skip the section I’m having trouble with and come back to it later. Eventually, I get it!

 

As tough as writer’s block is, it shows me my continual dependence upon Jesus. This story is not my own. It’s His. 

For those who write, please share your best tips on overcoming writer’s block in the comment box below to encourage others! I can’t wait to hear them.

Love,
Sarah

“Now go, write it before them in a table, and note it in a book,
that it may be for the time to come
for ever and ever:”

Isaiah 30:8

36 thoughts on “Four Ways to Deal with Writer’s Block”

  1. Oh, yes! I’ve dealt with writer’s block many times over the past 8 years. Here are a few things I do.
    1. Pray.
    2. Go play the piano. Music helps inspire creativity, so even if I can’t listen to music while I write, it can help with writer’s block.
    3. Write a different story. I often have several different stories going on at once because when I get stuck on one, I can switch to another.
    4. Get a little exercise in. It gets the blood moving in my brain again.
    5. Take a break and read a really good book. One that’s well written.
    6. Talk over my story with my sister or mom. They are both great critics.
    7. Make myself write just 10-25 more words. Sometimes that’s enough to break the block and I end up with several hundred words before I know it.
    8. Pull out a calendar picture and write a paragraph describing it. That will sometimes get the words going again, but be careful because it’s also been known to start a new story for me. 😉

  2. In addition to your tips, I like to listen to music while I write (not just any music though. I’m pretty strict with what I feed my mind). Also, I write historical fiction, so if I get stuck, I take a break and do some research;) This really helps a lot!

  3. A post on writing! My favorite kind! 🙂 There’s a couple things that I do to help with this! One of them is kind of what you already have written here. Since I write on my laptop, I’m often lying down when writing. When writer’s block hits,
    1) I’ll push my laptop forward, roll over, and pray or let my mind wander until I ‘stumble’ upon a new idea!
    2) Sometimes, I’ll act out the scene from my book! It’s kind of goofy, but I’ll pretend to be in my character’s shoes, and it can give me a good view or idea on what might happen next!
    3) If I’m low on energy, instead of acting, I’ll close my eyes and ‘watch the scene’ as if it were a video! It allows me to see my characters displayed fully, without the boundaries of writing. Then I just write down what I see!

    Also, I do ask people a lot, bouncing ideas off other people’s heads is the simplest way to do it(as long as you have people around, but, with eight siblings, I don’t often run into that difficulty 🙂 ).

    1. Austin,

      I’m glad you enjoyed this post! You have some great ideas! I totally agree as long as you have people around, bouncing ideas off them is great. And my critique partners are pretty opinionated, so I have lots of options!

  4. I like to get up and move. If I can’t find something to write, it is usually because I have been sitting too long. Usually doing some physical task, a bit of dusting or folding laundry is helpful.

    1. Anisa,

      Great suggestion! I’ve sometimes just paced to distract myself! But cleaning or folding laundry are excellent ideas. Writing is a lot of mental work! 🙂

  5. I don’t write creatively but I remember when I had to do essays for school the keep-the-pencil-moving technique worked well for me. I’d sit down and write the first draft all at once. The only rule was to keep writing and not stol until I reached the end. If I thought a thought in it went, even if it wasn’t in order. Writing down ‘I can’t believe I have to write about this topic and this is why’ Anything to keep that pencil moving until I had said everything I wanted to say.

    1. Yes, that’s a great point! When I’m writing my first draft, I put in as many hours as I can each day until it’s completed. After that, I’ll begin working on editing.

  6. I’m a homeschooling mother and a writing tutor.

    1. Be sure to continually read well-written books from a wide variety of genres, authors, and times throughout history – reading begets writing.
    2. Seek critique from published writers in your preferred genre – fiction? non-fiction science? non-fiction history? etc.
    3. Spend time in nature, alone and with no agenda – stare at the clouds and the leaves so that the mind gets a break.

    1. Great thoughts! I definitely read fiction, and spending time alone in nature is a normal thing too as Ellie and I like to go outside and just relax. 🙂

  7. These are all really great tips. Thank you so much for sharing them! I’m particularly grateful that you mentioned asking others for advice or inspiration. It’s not always apparent in the moment (at least not as apparent as the other items on the list, which are also very helpful, but which I don’t tend to forget about as easily). Talking a rough spot through with a fellow writer or loved one IS so, so helpful. (When I finally ask someone for help with a writing project, I always think “why didn’t I do that sooner?”)

    Some other things I do find helpful include the following:
    1. Do something active (often getting my body moving gets my brain moving too!)
    2. Give myself a time limit — say 15 minutes — to write continuously without editing myself (then go back and edit later). I also find the time limit helps me to stay on task (I clean that way too, lol! If I know I only have 30 minutes to clean the kitchen, that kitchen is going to get clean fast!)
    3. Spend time with my cat (Animals can be huge stress relievers, and often when I’m “stuck” it’s because I’m feeling anxious or uncertain about my work.).

    4. Change up my writing environment (I once went to four different coffee shops in a single afternoon in order to keep a writing project moving. I’m sure the four cups of coffee didn’t hurt either!)

    1. Katie,

      Thank you for your tips! Great ones! Yep. Ellie is a great stress reliever! 🙂 I like your point #4. I thought about going to a coffee shop recently, but I’m pretty easily distracted (crazy!), and even if I put headphones in, music would distract me. I wish that wasn’t the case, because wow, I could really enjoy another excuse for a mocha.

      1. 🙂 I get distracted when I try to listen to music too, so I totally get that! The strange thing for me is that outside noise that I can’t control (like people talking around me or music that someone else is playing) helps me concentrate because I’ve gotten really good at tuning it out (since I can’t very well tell other people to be quiet or ask a coffee shop to turn off the background music!) Because of that, I really get “in the zone” and buckle down and focus in the midst of the noise . . . But when I’M the one with the ability to turn the music on or off? Forget it! I start humming along and can’t focus at all. Strange I know. On a related note, I was going to ask about your favorite chocolate (for writing of course 😉 ) but I see you answered that below already. I love equal exchange but haven’t tried that one yet. I’ll have to pick some up for my next project.

        1. Now having the ability to concentrate in a coffee shop is A+! Wish I had that! 🙂 Because I’d be down at ours a lot! My TOP favorite mint chocolate is the Divine brand (dark chocolate with mint crisp 70%). Their mint chocolate is AMAZING!!!! Whew. Sprouts carries it if you have one nearby. Natural Grocers might–not sure if Whole Foods does. If I don’t have the Divine bars, Dove mint chocolates do fine. 🙂 It’s more cost-effective, that’s for sure! I’ve bought the Divine bars at Sprouts before for 2/$5 which is a great price for those bars!

        2. Thank you! Those sound super-yummy. We don’t have Sprouts or Whole Foods near us (small town life!) but thankfully, we travel to cities that have them a lot.

  8. I don’t write often, but when my mother was homeschooling me, whenever I got frustrated or overwhelmed with a subject, she would have me go take a walk, just like you suggest. It is amazing how much taking a break and walking can help clear the mind and focus it. I did this often with math.

    My mother also made me read lots of classic literature and biographies. She said that a good writer has to read high quality literature. One of the writing prompts she used is that every week she would cut a picture out of a magazine and I would have to come up with a story about it.

  9. I love this post so much! You know, as I think about it, these tips are applicable for many different brain-blocks and not just writers block. 🙂 Thanks for the encouragement sarah!

  10. These are all great! I think taking breaks and doing something creative helps me the most…which usually means getting in the kitchen and baking something or playing a new classical piece on the piano. 🙂 It usually doesn’t take long before a spark of inspiration hits me and I’m able to move forward. Talking to my family members about problems helps me as well (even if they don’t have any ideas, just having someone to talk to is great!). 🙂

  11. The only times that I can remember experiencing writers block were when there was a fundamental structural problem in my novel. As unpleasant as it can be, sometimes the answer is to rework a whole section of the story (or even put it all aside for quite a while – until I can look at it with fresh eyes and see where I went wrong).

    One other thing that has improved my writing has been life experience. Traveling, interacting with people of a variety of backgrounds and ages, and reading an array of books has changed the way I write and increased my reservoir of ideas. Of course, with four little ones, I’m not writing much these days, but I don’t mind that at all. 😉

    1. Great tips! Yes, putting it aside does help, and traveling is a great way to gain new ideas. I find even when I’m out doing errands, I tend to get ideas on characters and things in general! 🙂

  12. Loved this post and everyone’s comments. Very helpful as I will be writing a book for a contest this summer. When I reach a brain block in writing (which isn’t all that often cuz I usually have my whole story thought out before I write it) I like to get up and come back to it the next day. I come back with a renewed sense of zeal new ideas. I also like to day dream about my story while I take my shower, usually I come up with my topic and story while I’m showering – I’m by myself and its quiet so I can think!

    1. P.S. – meant to ask – how is your new book coming along? When will it be released? What’s it about?

      1. Great questions! I’m very close to writing–finishing up the outline right now. I hope in the next week or less to begin the writing process. I’m not for sure on a release date, but Lord willing by October or November. Ahhh, and what it’s about? I’ll share on that closer to the time. 🙂

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