Every writer knows that feeling. You sit down to write, but your fingers are frozen, unable to type, and the blank page is staring right back at you. Ugh! You’ve been hit with writer’s block!
Whether you’re lacking inspiration, burnt out, or have too many other things on your mind to think clearly, you’ll need to remind yourself that you’re not alone! No one is immune to writer’s block.
Here, 10 published authors share their solutions and tactics to keep the words flowing.
Take a Break From Writing
“Writer’s block, for me, is about acknowledging that I need time away from the grind of writing. I teach writing as well as write novels and I constantly feel guilty for not reading and writing more. However, most of the best breakthroughs come when I am on a walk, people watching at a cafe with a notebook and coffee in hand, sticking my feet in the ocean, or chatting with my husband. Passive brain for the win!” — Robin Rivers, author of Woman on the Wall
“I use many strategies to overcome it, including discipline, persistence, retreat and stepping back (and allowing the unconscious time and room to percolate), and learning to see what is (sober assessment of the strengths and limitations of the work thus far).” — David Ulrich, author of The Mindful Photographer
“Take a break! I try my best to not put pressure on myself if I’m feeling creatively stuck. I’ll have a snack, listen to music or just step away from my computer for a while.” — Michelle Goodloe, author of I Own My Magic
Use a Pen and Paper
“I experience writer’s block quite a bit. I usually put my laptop away and go back to basics—pen and paper. I find that I can often think a lot clearer with a pen in my hand, when all else fails.” — Gabrielle Deonath, author of Shukr
Start in the Middle of A Scene
“Sometimes it’s hard to get myself to just sit down and get to work. I’ll check my email, do some online shopping… That’s not the same as a block per se. At those moments I know I just have to tell myself to get to work. Writing is a discipline; you have to be disciplined about sitting down to do it even if you are not ‘in the mood.’ Especially if, like me (and most writers, probably), writing is not your sole occupation and you don’t have as much time available to do it as you’d like. So, it’s important to be productive when you have set aside the time for it. One good trick I’ve learned, and shared with others, is to leave a section unfinished at the end of a writing session. That way, when you sit back down to it, you know how to get started and you can dive right in.” — Rachel Schreiber, author of Elaine Black Yoneda
Write Until You Understand
“For me, writer’s block turns out to be a function of not having thought through my material to the point where it’s ready to work on. Whenever one crops up, I make a backup copy of the chapter I’m working on, save it as Chapter X-GARBAGE, then write away as well as I can, not expecting to keep much of what I’m producing. If I keep at it, I eventually understand how I need to shape my material and I can get back to my original draft, revise as needed and move forward.” — Bob Mantel, author of The Velvet Badge
Listen to Your Favorite Music
“Every single day I have at least one instance of writer’s block! Music is the way I break through. Certain songwriters help lift me out of that block because their own writing is so powerful and their tunes get me very motivated. My go-to inspirations on this front these days are Anaïs Mitchell, Taylor Swift, and Allison Russell. They help me break through every time.” — Pam Allyn, author of Every Child A Super Reader
Study Other Art Forms
“Reading a good book, watching an interesting movie, or seeing an eye-opening museum exhibit propel me to write. Also, anything that investigates the artistic process, whether it’s a documentary about dance or painting, talking craft with writer friends, or even catching a reality show where people passionate about singing talk singing—inspires me to work on my own art. And sometimes, it helps to take a breather from the pressures of producing.” — Renee Rutledge, author of One Hundred Percent Me
Use Writing Exercises for Creativity
“I try to treat writer’s block as a sign that my brain needs a diversion. I use the time to take care of chores, read or watch Netflix and look for inspiration in other people’s creative endeavors. I’m also a big fan of writing exercises. I keep a notebook and pencil handy. I might take a scene that’s giving me trouble and write about the first 15 seconds in expanded detail, or about the character’s motivations, or what the room looks like. I often write letters to people before I start work on my books to help warm up my writing muscles.” — Evette Davis, author of 48 States
Write Through the Block
“I’ve had writer’s block numerous times. What I do to get around it is to literally walk away from the book for a day or so and wait until I’m in the right frame of mind to give it another try. When you’re an author, you’re always on a deadline, so while stepping away from your book for a few days tends to drive your publisher a little nuts, they do actually understand. While it might put you a little behind, ultimately, it helps, and you catch up quickly because now you’re back ‘in the zone.’ If you try and force it, it works the opposite way and you’ll just fall further behind. Once I reengage, and I’m staring at that blank page, I just write anything. Anything, just to get started and get something on the page. It’s usually pretty awful because you’re not warmed up. You’re ice cold (it’s like exercising without stretching), and you’re not in the zone, but you just start writing (and cringing while you write because you know it’s terrible), but then, once you do get in the zone, you go back and rewrite those first few paragraphs again, which are invariably awful, and you’re always so glad you did.” — Scott Kelby, author of The iPhone Photography Book
Now it’s your turn! What helps you beat writer’s block? Share your tips and tricks in the comments below! And read the suggestions from 10 more authors here.