23 Ways To Break Writer’s Block

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WritersBlock

Every writer has been there: the words are flowing, the story is gelling, and then all of a sudden—nothing. Like the faucet has been turned off, or the river has been dammed upstream. You tell yourself not to panic, but as hours pass, especially if you’re under deadline, panic begins to build. What happens next? What if you can’t finish the story?

Rational or not, almost every writer has been struck with a case of writer’s block (except those who claim not to believe it exists, but I’m going to write them off as superhumans who live in a perfect world). I have my favorite go-to solutions for the problem, but because everyone is different (and because when I’m under deadline, getting friends to help me write a blog post is just good sense), I polled a group of writers for their favorite solutions to the dreaded blockage. Here are my favorite ideas out of the hundreds that were suggested:

  1. Set a timer and don’t let your pen (or typing fingers) stop for the set amount of time, even if you’re writing “I don’t know” over and over, until something clicks in. Or write [the problematic scene] from a different character’s POV.  (Katherine Goodman)
  2. I do dishes. It keeps my hands busy, but my mind is still in writer land. Other times I play piano. Same reason. (Susie Finkbeiner)
  3. Listen to a song on repeat that represents your WIP. Prewrite your scene in longhand. (Dawn Crandall)
  4. Take a quick break, whether it’s to read a book by a really great writer or watch a TV show or movie you love. Change location. (Cara Putman)
  5. Get out a yellow legal pad and start writing by hand and see what comes to the surface. (Carrie Turansky)
  6. Read, read, read. (Jolina Petersheim)
  7. Research the subject. Read another book on the subject. Ask a friend to critique. Talk to someone who knows something about it. Fiction or nonfiction, it will eventually shake something loose. (Steven Hutson)
  8. Take a walk with [your] camera while listening to podcasts. (Lucille Zimmerman)
  9. Reading a good book, watching another artist create a story, is the best way to break writer’s block. Nothing like inspired writing to inspire writing. (Mike Duran)
  10. Write anyway. (Jessica Tescher Thomas)
  11. Switching from 1st to 3rd POV. Skipping ahead in the story. Going to the movies. Reading non-fiction or poetry. Taking a walk. Pacing. And of course there’s always the tough-love approach of just making myself sit down and write no matter how terrible what comes out of my fingertips seems. (Rachel Phifer)
  12. Clean house. (Casey Miller)
  13. Getting away from it and thinking about something else. So I go to the movies or go hiking, or I do laundry. (Kristin Billerbeck)
  14. I close my eyes and write with headphones in (to get rid of the editor in me). Or, if I’m on a desktop, I’ll write with the screen turned off. It’ll still type on Word, even if the monitor is off. Keeps me from getting distracted. (Janette Foreman)
  15. Best ever: pen and paper to stop the constant editing. Must be a nice pen that flows (Uniball) and beautifully thick paper that reminds me of a fine book. (Tamara Leigh)
  16. Dark chocolate! (Sandy Nadeau)
  17. M&Ms work too! (Davalynn Spencer)
  18. I tear up and reupholster furniture. No really. I do. (Amy Sorrels)
  19. Break pattern and just write a really good kissing scene, even if it doesn’t fit where the characters are in the story now, you can use it later. Maybe. If not, you still wrote a really good kissing scene. (Serena Chase)
  20. My time to write is so limited, writers block is panicked out of me. (Peter Leavell)
  21. Art journaling. Or blow something up. (Danica Favorite) [My note: I can only assume she means in the story. Please do not send the bomb squad.]
  22. Play with a Slinky. Seriously, one editor at Writer’s Digest swore by it. (Bonnie Doran)
  23. Set my phone timer and start writing. I can’t check the net or any distractions. Just write no matter what comes out. (Jason Joyner)

Hopefully these tips will help you the next time the blinking cursor is staring you down. Now it’s your turn to share. What’s your favorite tip for breaking writer’s block?

 

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  1. Heidi McCahan says:

    Someone told me about the Wordtracker app. I suppose this is the same as setting a timer, but it adds an extra layer of accountability for me. I press start when I sit down to write and then enter how many words I completed when I stop. It shows how far I’ve progressed toward my overall word count goal. A real eye opener for me because I wasn’t nearly as productive as I thought.

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