Home / Writers index / Advice

Tips to avoid writer's block

You’re in full flow, the beginning of writing your great masterpiece, “it’s sure to be a best-seller” you tell yourself, when suddenly, you lose your muse and end up staring at the computer screen, stuck for words and inspiration.

Does this sound all too familiar?

Writers block happens to every great writer at some point, whether it’s a case of distraction, a fear of committing to an idea or your inner perfectionism busting through. It can be frustrating to say the least, with not one straightforward solution or formulaic fix to rely upon. But here are some powerful ways you can get back into the flow of writing:

Step away from whatever you’re writing and do something else!

Paint pictures, write poetry, make some coffee or go for a walk. Work on another creative project for a few hours or days and then return to your writing. Jumping to other projects can reactivate your imagination. The key is to keep exercising the creative part of your brain and eventually you will tap back into the flow of writing.

Do free writing

Spend a couple of moments in the day writing whatever comes to mind, ignoring punctuation and grammar. Writing without constraint, with abandonment, allowing yourself to be totally unsystematic. You might switch between genres, vent frustrations or write absolute rubbish. Too often, writers get caught up and self-conscious about writing, the practice of ferreting eliminates these obstinacies and allows a writer to generate creativity. 

Move

Dance, run, practice yoga or Pilates. When your body has been sitting motionless for hours staring blankly at a compute, your mind, like your body, can become dormant, but when you get your body into action, your mind follows. Practice mindfulness, a relaxed mind is more open and an open mind is more imaginative. 

Eliminate distractions

Clean up your work space- a cluttered writing space can put the mind in a state of confusion. Carve out some time in your schedule and home solely for the purpose of writing. Unplug from the constant babble of the web, in Emma Woolf's book Positively Primal, she encourages disconnecting from distractions, and talks about how she often disables her internet access whilst she writes to avoid her thoughts going off tangent. Giving yourself time and space to be in solitude is important to staying focused.

Create a writing routine

Treat your writing like a job. On your writing days, get dressed in the morning as if you’re going off to work. If you sit around in your pyjamas all day, with your laptop balancing on your belly, you might give in to surfing the web or watching daytime TV. As they say, if you look the part- you’ll feel the part. 

When you apply one or all of these methods, you’ll find that writer’s block is simply a minor speed bump that you can overcome easily and stay in the creative current. Start somewhere, anywhere. Write a few lines. Type away and see what happens. Don’t think about it too much or get bogged down with intricate edits. It doesn’t need to be eloquent or presentable - it just needs to be written.

Write for the joy of writing. 

If you do this, you’ll get past the hump. The difference between professional writers and amateurs is this: Both encounter frustrations and blocks, but one pushes through while the other gets stuck.

Written by Esther Dark