Goins, Writer

On Writing, Ideas, and Making a Difference

How to Overcome Writer’s Block: 14 Tricks That Work

Writing about a writer’s block is better than not writing at all.
–Charles Bukowski

It happens to every writer. It’s inevitable. Your prose has turned to mush, you don’t have a creative bone left in your body, and you want to throw in the towel.

Writer's Block

Photo credit: Erin Kohlenberg

Writer’s block. Every writer struggles with it. But what you do with it is what really matters. Before we talk about solutions, though, let’s talk about the problem.

Common causes of writer’s block

The reasons for your block may vary, but some common ones include:

  • Timing: It’s simply not the right time to write. Your ideas may need to stew a little longer before writing them down.
  • Fear: Many writers struggle with being afraid, with putting their ideas (and themselves) out there for everyone to see and critique. Fear is a major reason some writers never become writers.
  • Perfectionism: You want everything to be just right before you ever put pen to paper or touch a keyboard. You try to get it perfect in your head and never do, so you never begin.

So how do we vanquish this enemy?

It’s a tough question to answer, and I’m afraid I don’t have a great solution. I’ve personally wrestled with writer’s block on many occasions, and each victory looked different.

That’s the thing about writing: it’s an art, not a science. And you’ll have to approach it as such. There is no formulaic fix, no “7 Steps to Becoming a Better Writer Now.”

Well, except one. But you already know what it is: Start hacking away. Begin trying stuff. Sometimes, the quirkier, the better. The trick is find something that works for you.

Creative solutions to writer’s block

Here are a few ideas to help you work through your creative constipation:

  • Go for a walk.
  • Eliminate distractions (I use Ommwriter to focus on just writing).
  • Do something to get your blood flowing. (I like running.)
  • Play. (My personal preference is LEGOS.)
  • Change your environment.
  • Read a book.
  • Freewrite.
  • Listen to music (try classical or jazz to mix it up).
  • Brew some coffee (my personal favorite).
  • Create a routine. Many famous writers have daily routines to summon the Muse.
  • Spend time with someone who makes you feel good.
  • Call an old friend.
  • Brainstorm ideas in bullet points.
  • Read some inspiring quotes to get you started.

The possibilities are endless, but movement is critical. You need to generate momentum to get out of your funk.

Once you start heading in a direction, it’s easier to pick up speed. And before you know it, your block will be a distant memory and you’ll be doing what you once thought impossible. You’ll be writing.

How to not overcome writer’s block

And just for fun, here are some anti-solutions to this problem:

  • You do not overcome writer’s block by refusing to write until you feel “inspired.”
  • You do not overcome writer’s block by wallowing in self-pity.
  • You do not overcome writer’s block by procrastinating or making excuses.
  • You do not overcome writer’s block by watching TV.
  • You do not overcome writer’s block by reading articles on how to overcome writer’s block. (Kinda shot myself in the foot there, huh?)

The fail-proof solution

If you’re still not satisfied, you have one last resort, an ace up your sleeve. The silver bullet solution. The fail-proof way to overcome writer’s block is one you already know. In fact, you’ve been avoiding it this whole time, because it’s precisely what you don’t want to hear.

You overcome writer’s block by writing. (Tweet)

Start somewhere, anywhere. Write a few lines. Say anything. And see what happens. Don’t think about it too much or make any fancy announcements. Just write. It doesn’t need to be eloquent or presentable; it just needs to be written..

Write for the joy of writing. Because you can’t not do it. Don’t try to say or produce anything; just get some words on paper, now. No excuses or justifications.

You can write. Don’t make it harder than it has to be. Just type a few words. They don’t have to be good (all first drafts suck). It just has to be written. Then you have something to work it. You can tweak from there.

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

You can do this. Just write.

(One caveat: This technique only works if you’re truly blocked and not “empty,” which is an entirely different matter altogether.)

If you need some help getting started with a daily writing habit, I encourage you to join my 31-day writing challenge. It’s free! Click here to get started.

How do you overcome writer’s block? Share in the comments.

About Jeff Goins

I write books and help writers get their work out into the world. I am the best-selling author of four books, including The Art of Work. Each week, I send out a newsletter with free tips on writing and creativity.

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  • Mashallo Samilo

    Great food for creators……….

  • Marty McConnell

    Great post. I totally agree. Put this out this morning on the topic, my thoughts, and a few extra hints like gamification for the writing process: http://writefarmlive.com/2017/02/writers-block-is-bullshit/

  • Beautiful and uplifting Sunday read. Thanks Jeff! I like the term “creative constipation.” It aptly summarizes that brief stop-over that doesn’t seem like it will end anytime soon. Well, will get back to some work. Regards.

  • Lee Nedlog

    Great article! These things do help because subconsciously I’ve used some of them.

  • t

    im only commenting because i am having writers block and i am procrastinating working on my essay… lol i didn’t follow your recommendations but they seem to be very good

  • SarahSS

    Try to sleep. Every time I try to sleep, I get my best ideas and have to get out of bed, turn on a light, and find a pen or keyboard. HA!

  • Faith

    Great article!
    But I have to put an asterisk on your comment that watching TV doesn’t help writer’s block. It helps a lot when you’re trying to write an episode of television. 🙂

  • Son Yejin’s girlfriend

    What works for me is writing on a PC than a laptop. its easier to write for me when im in front of a giant screen and have a mouse to navigate faster

  • Andrea

    There was a time where I did everything you listed in the section for helping with writer’s block and more (change legos to video games though), but nothing helped. I even took a break, which became a one year break, even though I tried going back to it occasionally. I downloaded a simple writing app, thinking it wouldn’t help at all, but it helped so much.
    Now I’m stuck again, but I think I know what to do and what I need. I’m just out of luck on what I need though. >_<