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Overcoming writer’s block

You know the feeling. You show up to your writing table at the appointed time. You have a steaming cup of coffee or tea ready to assist you with the flow of words onto the page. Your writing tools are present and accounted for. You’re ready to write.

Then, nothing. Silence. No happy hum of keystrokes, no scratches across the paper. Nothing. All you hear are the proverbial crickets filling space that should house sounds of brilliant words combining to create fabulous stories.

What happened? Just yesterday you had all kinds of memories you wanted to write. You looked forward to carving out time just for yourself, indulgent moments to create beautiful stories.

We all run into these creative brick walls. Many times, we feel overwhelmed and don’t know where to begin. We worry whether our stories will be good enough. We want to be inspired to write, to feel like writing.

Instead of giving up in disgust and eating the leftover pizza from last night, the bag of chocolate chip cookies in the pantry and a whole jar of dill pickles, try some of these ways to get started:

  • Write the thoughts in your head. Create of transcript of the ongoing discussion in your mind. Warning: this can often be scary.
  • Lower your standards. See just how poorly you can write. Make it awful.
  • Make a list, maybe all the firsts in your life.
  • Write the words I remember and see where that takes you.
  • Pick up a book, preferably a memoir, and copy what the author has written, word for word.
  • Pretend you’re writing a letter to someone you care about, Dear Ann, I want to tell you about the time…
  • Use something you don’t typically use to write, e.g. a crayon, the back of an envelope, an index card, a colorful marker, a napkin, a sticky note.
  • Write with your non-dominant hand.
  • Write in a different location. Go outside, to a busy coffee shop, a waiting room, etc.
  • Write in a different position, e.g. standing up, lying down, sitting on the floor or the kitchen counter.
  • Write about what you did yesterday.

By now, you’ve probably figured out that most of these suggestions are designed to shake up you and your routine. We can’t write when we’re in a rut or in control. Anything you can do to put yourself out of control will help you get started. It’s okay to do silly things and feel foolish. A great deal of creativity resides in those places.

So, do you ever struggle with writer’s block? What makes you not want to write? How do you overcome this avoidance of writing? Share your experience with us, and let’s help each other clear these writing hurdles.

Brick wall image courtesy of

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