12 Ways To Combat Writer’s Block

As a creative writing major, the number one question I get asked by people is, how do you write so much? And I always give them the same answer: Honestly, I don’t. For those people that don’t love the written word, the thought of writing all the time can seem daunting, but the truth of the matter is, it can be just as daunting for those of us that do love it. The biggest obstacle for many writers, including myself is Writer’s Block. As a writer that struggles with finding inspiration more than most, I have thought long and hard about what Writer’s Block means to me. To me, Writer’s Block stems from a lack of inspiration and motivation, both of which can be easily obtained with a little effort. Whenever I find myself in a Writer’s Block stump, I always am sure to ask myself: have I put in the effort to pull myself out of this funk? Nine times out of ten, the answer is no. If you find yourself answering no to this question as well, check out these 12 tricks to dig yourself out of that Writer’s Block hole!

  1. 1. Get Out of Your Room!

    There is beauty in nature, and with beauty, comes inspiration. It’s so easy to forget about the outside world when you’re cooped up behind a computer screen all day typing away, but don’t forget to take a moment to breathe. If you’ve found yourself struggling with inspiration for the next New York Times bestseller, take a deep breath, close your laptop and go outside! Not only will the fresh air do you some good to clear your mind, but you might just find inspiration in the world around you. 

  2. 2. Have Conversations

    If you’re a stereotypical hermit writer like myself, you often struggle with the verbal word. It’s easy to become so comfortable in the written word that you forget about the lost art of conversation. Take some much needed time away from your work to check in with friends and family! It’s so easy to find inspiration in everyday conversations, whether you’re the one having the conversation or simply eavesdropping (like me). Plus, the trick to writing great dialogue is to make it sound as natural as possible, so just think of conversations as practice for writing dialogue! 

     

  3. 3. Ask Questions

    This is another thing that I’ve started to work on more. In life, we take for granted the opportunity to ask questions and connect with people. When we write, we often connect our characters to those around us, whether we do it consciously or not. Take a minute out of your day to ask someone you know a question. It doesn’t need to be anything crazy or elaborate, but somebody’s answer to a question as simple as: what did you eat for breakfast? Might be the spark that you needed to further develop a character you’d been stuck on for months.

  4. 4. Exercise

    Not only is working out a great way to stay in physical shape, but it’s a great way to stay in mental shape as well. When writing, it’s easy to get frustrated and annoyed when the inspiration just isn’t there. Have you ever tried writing when your inspiration pool is all dried up? It’s like trying to push a boulder up a mountain. Exercising is a great way to take a step back from your work and clear your head. Nothing makes you forget that frustration over a scene you just can’t get right faster than a heart rate above 160bpm!

  5. 5. Listen to Music, LOTS of Music

    When they say that music can inspire the most uninspired, they aren’t kidding! Whenever I find myself in a writing slump, I make sure that I take some time to switch up my regular Spotify playlist with something new. Music genres and writing genres often go hand in hand, so I find that I feel the most inspired when I’m listening to music that fits the same mood of my writing (thank you Harry Styles for fitting the young adult romance genre so beautifully!). Next time you’re struggling to find inspiration for a new story or stuck on how to write a particular character/scene, take some time to browse the music libraries for something new. Who knows, you might find inspiration and a new favorite music artist!

  6. 6.  Let the Words Flow

    It’s so easy when you’re writing to want the first draft to be perfect. But, it’s called a first draft for a reason. If you haven’t already, I highly recommend reading the article Shitty First Drafts by Anne Lamott. When I read this article in high school, it completely changed my outlook on writing. Writing isn’t about perfection, it’s about progress. My biggest obstacle when I face Writer’s Block is my need for perfection. Instead of letting the words flow into a shitty first draft, I get too swept up in making sure everything about it is perfect, and therefore often find myself stuck almost like a roadblock as I try to figure out the best way to put what’s in my head onto paper. Forget about being perfect. The first draft is only for you. Let your mind run wild and just write. The more words you let flow, the more the inspiration will keep pouring in. It’s like a funnel; the inspiration trickles down into the flow of words in a first draft. If you stop the words from pouring, the inspiration will back up. Keep that dam open by letting your fingers fly on the keys!

  7. 7. Sleep On It

    Look, all of us writers have been there. You’re so frustrated and hell bent on writing something, even if it’s just a page or a chapter of a story, that you stay up until all hours of the night working on it. Believe me, I’ve been there. But if there’s anything my five am nights (or I suppose mornings would be more accurate) have taught me, it’s that at the end of the day, a fatigued mind will not live up to your full potential. If you find yourself with writer’s block and it’s late at night, go to sleep. The story will still be there when you wake up, and who knows, you might find inspiration from your dreams! A well rested mind is a creative mind, after all.

  8. 8. Take Suggestions

    I will be completely honest, a lot of my inspiration over the years has come from listening to my friends critiques and suggestions of my work. The biggest lesson you can learn as a writer is how to take criticism. It might be scary at first to have others read your work if you’re otherwise used to keeping your writing to yourself, but they may view certain scenes/characters/plot ideas differently than you do as the writer. Whenever I post new chapters of my stories online, I’m sure to read the comments to see what people have to say about the chapter and I ask questions to see what they predict/want to see happen in the future of the story. It’s a great way to view your story from an outside perspective, and sometimes that’s just what you need to feel inspired. 

     

  9. 9. Write!

    This might seem like an obvious one, but going back to number six, the easiest way to lose inspiration is to stop writing. Writer’s Block is a vicious cycle: you stop writing, you lose inspiration, and therefore you lose motivation to write. It’s a cycle that I often find myself getting stuck in, so I make it a habit of writing for at least 30 minutes a night. Set a specific duration of time, and sit yourself down in front of your computer to write for that amount of time. Whether you write two sentences or 20 pages, at the end of that time you will end up feeling more motivated and inspired than you started. The more you write, the more inspired you will feel. This is why writers will often set a schedule for themselves and their work. If you have a set schedule, you will feel more motivated to follow that schedule, and it will help keep you from procrastinating as a result of Writer’s Block!

  10. 10. Connect with Other Writers

    One of the best ways to find motivation is in other writers. It’s so easy to get trapped in a cycle of Writer’s Block and think that you’re the only one. But that couldn’t be further from the truth! Truth is: every writer has felt stuck at one point or another. It’s nice to know that you aren’t alone, and talking to other writers is a great way to find support but also to bounce ideas off of each other. I am constantly messaging my writing friends with ideas and questions about my stories, and I have them to thank for constantly helping me over the Writer’s Block hump. If you don’t have any close friends that write, consider joining a club for writers, an online writing platform or checking out local opportunities for writing workshops!

  11. 11. Keep a Glimmer Journal

    One of my creative writing professors once lectured us on the importance of keeping a “glimmers” journal, and since then I’ve never looked back. “Glimmers” occur when you’re out and about and you either see, hear, smell, taste, etc. something that leaves a resounding impact on you. It’s something that you find yourself thinking about for the rest of the day. Whether it’s something big or not, writing down these “glimmer” moments can lead to a burst of inspiration down the road. Have you ever had a great idea for a story and then lost it because you didn’t write it down? That’s what a glimmer journal is for. Whenever something occurs that you think is important, write it down. It might not seem like something in the moment, but when you’re having a bout of Writer’s Block and you’re scouring your glimmer journal for inspiration, you’ll be glad that you wrote it down. Who knows, that glimmer you wrote down could lead to a literature classic! 

     

  12. 12. READ!

    As always, I’ve saved the best and most important for last. This one might seem self explanatory, but as a writer myself, I know that it’s all too easy to get wrapped up in your own work that you forget to take the time to read others work. After all, there would be no writing without reading. The best way to find inspiration is through reading. The more knowledge you have and the more authors that you’ve read, the more inspiration you will find. There are millions of different worlds out there just waiting to be explored in the pages of a book. So if you’re ever feeling discouraged with your writing or frustrated with your lack of inspiration, find a new read. Reading for a writer is like practice for an athlete; the more time you spend building up your repertoire and training, the better off you will be. 

     

Writer’s Block can be a seriously frustrating issue for many writers. It’s easy to get down on yourself when you’re lacking motivation or inspiration to write, but always remember: J.K Rowling didn’t write Harry Potter in a day. Writing is an art form that takes a tremendous amount of time and patience, and the sooner you learn how best to cope with Writer’s Block, the more inspired you will feel. Always remember: there is no such thing as perfection in writing, there is only passion. As long as you are passionate about your writing, inspiration will follow.