Five Ways to BLAST through Writer’s Block

Like all writers, I sometimes struggle with writer’s block.  Here are five strategies I’ve found to get ideas flowing.  I’d love to hear what other strategies have worked for you.

Brainstorm.  To put me in a creative mood, I’ll pick a random word or memory and then list, without stopping, every word, phrase, feeling etc. that I associate with that word or memory.  Sometimes this is all I need to get my writing session going.

Leave that last thought dangling. To help me re-enter an ongoing project, I stop writing mid-thought. The next day,  there’s no reason to have writer’s block because my first task is to finish that thought I left dangling.

Attack the laundry.  If fresh ideas aren’t flowing, I don’t force the process. Instead I’ll do menial tasks like folding laundry or washing dishes. I keep my notebook handy though, because, for me, the best ideas usually come when I’m busy doing something else.

Swap those tools.  To outwit that nasty blank page or screen, I switch writing modes. Instead of laptop, I use paper and pencil.  Sometimes I go crazy and use chalk and board, or tape record my thoughts.

Set the timer.  When I’m stuck in a story or poem, I use the five-minute rule. Every hour, or half hour, I set the timer for five and free-write through that difficult part. No crossing out or deleting of words is allowed and when the timer beeps, I stop until it’s time for my next five-minute burst. No re-reading allowed. I just move forward, putting down every idea that comes in my head. At the end of the day, I have a page full of thoughts to work with.

18 thoughts on “Five Ways to BLAST through Writer’s Block”

  1. The dangling thought is my favorite. I use it a LOT, since I write for exactly one hour a day. When the timer goes off, I stop – usually in the middle of a word – so I always know where I’m starting the next day. I also like to take a ride to Barnes and Noble if I’m not inspired. It keeps the ultimate goal in mind, I get to see what’s new out there, and a stuffed cupcake and chai latte are sometimes inspiring in theIr own way!

  2. My favorite way to get past writer’s block is to write a different scene in the book. I find it so freeing. I’ll jump ahead several chapters sometimes and write a part that really exciting. It gets the creative juices flowing and then I’m cured. 🙂

  3. Thanks for sharing! I like to change my setting like moving to a different room or place, going for a walk, and most of all praying for inspiration!

  4. Switching to paper really works for me when I’m having trouble with voice. It feels different enough to remove some of the robotic or mechanical feel I can get when I’m just getting down what happens. I don’t revise by editing that way. I really rewrite the scene.

    1. Me, too, Iza! So glad I’m not alone. How fun to see your name here. Your “I’m a Little Teapot” is one of my oldest daughter’s favorites. We’ve been reading it for years.

  5. Nice tips! I like the idea of swapping tools. Funny enough, I find the best way to move through writer’s block is to promise myself I’ll take a break from writing for a week or two. I inevitably get inspired when I’m trying not to be. Also, lying down and relaxing can work wonders. My subconscious continues working, somehow. Actually, new research shows that taking breaks is very important to the creative process.

  6. Thanks for these practical tips, Laura. Your list contains a few solutions I haven’t tried. I find my ideas flow freely when I’m unable to stop to write them down – while driving, in the shower, or pushing a toddler in a swing. In which case, simply *living* is the key to writing, and yet often I’m so focused on my thoughts that I miss the living right in front of me.

  7. I’m LOVING all the comments today! So many good ideas for how to overcome writer’s block. Piggybacking on Genevieve’s suggestion and Tina’s tip about changing setting, I also find an hour spent in the picture book section of our local library is a fun way to ward off writer’s block and be inspired. Switching to good old paper and pen, Stephanie, really works for me as well. and like Kelly, I sometimes shake things up by writing a scene out of sequence. I also find it fascinating, but totally “right” sounding, that taking a break is good for creativity, so thanks for sharing that Diana. Like Tina, I like to open my writing sessions in prayer for inspiration and blessing on the words I’m about to put to paper. And Becky, Iza’s books are favorites around here as well.

  8. I’ve recently discovered the “write at least an hour everyday” trick and so far so good. Also, a lot ot times when my brain is feeling completely blank, I look up fantasy pictures or animal pictures on the internet. I wrote an entire story from one photo I found on the internet once. And it turned out to be one of my favorites!

  9. Tasks that keep my hand busy and let my mind wander are my go-to when I’m stuck, especially anything with the sound of rushing water: washing dishes, taking a shower, watering my garden. I’ll stand at my sink all sudsy and wet (usually with my tee shirt soaked because I’m elsewhere in my head) and mutter under my breath as I work. By the time I’m done, I’ve got clean dishes and renewed energy for my writing! Great post!

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