How to Work Around Writer’s Block

I have an intimate relationship with writer’s block, as likely do most writers. Blessedly, it tends to attach itself to my right brain when there is no formal writing assignment at hand. Only when I am meant to follow my own path, to create as I see fit, does writer’s block erect its roadblocks.

My writer’s block sees to it that the creative process becomes as painful and laborious as possible. “Why should writing be easy?” it whispers in my ear, as I struggle to untangle the knot of ideas that lodge themselves in the hollows that remain uncontaminated by its Sapphic voice.


Photo by Ed Yourdon

And yet, if I can simply bring myself to extract one thought, one idea, and to pursue it with focus, then I can break free of its spell and produce something, anything, to keep the blank page at bay. And with that small success in mind, I offer a few tips for working around writer’s block.

  1. Brainstorm. The forces of writer’s block have nothing against brainstorming, and that is where the kernel of an idea can take hold. Keep a journal with you and write down as many ideas as you can, whenever they come to you. I find my best ideas surface first thing in the morning, and often in the shower.  
  2. Make lists. Lists of ideas, to-do lists, shopping lists, lists of your favourite songs. The act of list-writing is the act of writing, and before you know it your list might just blossom into a blog post, an article, or the basis of a feature piece.
  3. Pick an idea and stick with it. You might have nothing to say about the topic, but force yourself to write about it anyway. The act of putting pen to paper or fingers to keyboard can grease the wheel, no matter what you’re writing about.
  4. Create a writing schedule. Write every day or every week for a specific amount of time. It doesn’t matter if you’re copying lines on a blackboard or writing in your journal. Just write something to get in the habit of putting your thoughts into words.
  5. Give yourself a deadline. If assignments from clients aren’t forthcoming, then create your own. Give yourself deadlines to create story pitches or blog posts or screenplays, or whatever it is you hope to accomplish. And once you’re done, be sure to go back and check it off your list. There’s nothing better for banishing writer’s block than the satisfaction of a checkmark that follows a page you’ve filled with words.

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