Out of Ideas? Tips for Overcoming Writer's Block

Every writer has those days or even weeks when she/he feels like the words aren’t flowing as freely and easily as they should. I often get this feeling when I have to start a new grant proposal for work and dread putting the first words on the page. It is not so much that I am at a lost as to how to answer the questions. But, I just have a hard time getting started. This situation can develop into writer’s block if I don’t get a move on and begin writing. True writer’s block occurs when writers get in the habit of not writing and allow their inaction to control all their thoughts about the writing process. You develop a constant worry about when the inspiration will hit you. Next thing you know ~ you can’t write at all.

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When "just write" doesn't work . . .

Don’t fall into that writer’s block trap. There is a way out of the endless cycle of no writing. I know everyone has heard the advice to “just write,” as a way to get over writer’s block. So, how do you do that? The problem is that this advice really doesn't work. You can’t write ~ you have writer’s block. Advice to “just write” is plain silly and doesn’t really address how to get started. Here are some real, concrete tips to get your through those dry spells and back to writing in no time.

  • Ask yourself how you are feeling. Many a great poem started with this concept. Fill in the blanks to some of these questions:

I feel _____________________.

I like _____________________.

I hate_____________________.

________________happened to me today.

I wish ____________________.

Guess what? Filling in these blanks is writing and maybe, just maybe a great idea will be the result. If all you do is write the answers to these questions on a daily basis, at least you are writing which is the ultimate goal.

  • Write something for someone else. Sometimes we get blocked because we are trying too hard. So, put your own project aside for a bit. Write a letter of recommendation for someone, do a bio for someone and give feedback on an article or web posting. These actions are incidents of writing that could very well get you back into the habit of writing and able to refocus on your own projects.
  • Read someone else’s writing. Think about when you were in junior high and had to write those book reports. Read a book or short story and summarize it with your own insights. Do a critique of what you liked and didn’t like about the book. You accomplish two things: you are writing and the exercise of constructive criticism might lead you to find a way to produce something of your own.
  • Think about your past. A great way to get to writing is to describe something that happened in your past that had an impact on your life. Sharing a story that gives advice to others about what you learned and seeing how far you have come are great ways to put the pen to the paper (or the fingers to the keyboard). Everyone has a story to tell.

Hopefully the exercises above will get you back into the writing spirit. Writer's block is all in the mind and with a little effort you can train yourself out of this temporary slump. If you have any tips to beat writer's block, please add to this list.

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Comments 13 comments

KoffeeKlatch Gals profile image

KoffeeKlatch Gals 4 years ago from Sunny Florida

I have to agree, I always seem to block up when I am trying to write to please someone else. Great ideas and tips.


ahostagesituation profile image

ahostagesituation 4 years ago

Thanks for the hub. I don't know anything about writer's block, it seems I need more of a writer's plug when I get going. It would be great to be able to shut it on and off. I think you're tips are helpful, tho. Rated up.


Daniella Lopez profile image

Daniella Lopez 4 years ago from Arkansas

Awesome tips! I've always hated the "just write" piece of advice. I love your ideas for alternative methods around that. Voted up!


truthfornow profile image

truthfornow 4 years ago from New Orleans, LA Author

KoffeeKlatch Gals ~ writing because we want to and writing because we have to are so different.

Thanks ahostagesituation. I am glad you are so into writing.

I hate that advice too Daniella Lopez.


Poetic Fool 4 years ago

Several good ideas here! I also like to listen to music of various types when I find I'm coming up dry. I find the music or the lyrics rarely fail to inspire me. Thanks for a great hub.


truthfornow profile image

truthfornow 4 years ago from New Orleans, LA Author

Good idea about music. Thanks Poetic Fool!


alocsin profile image

alocsin 4 years ago from Orange County, CA

Excellent ideas for getting over a frequent condition for many writers. I like the simplicity of the fill-in-the-blanks. Voting this Up and Useful.


truthfornow profile image

truthfornow 4 years ago from New Orleans, LA Author

Thanks for the vote up alocsin.


always exploring profile image

always exploring 4 years ago from Southern Illinois

I often experience writer's block. I start to write and get discouraged when ideas fail to develop. You have some good tips. I will try them out..Thank you for sharing..


truthfornow profile image

truthfornow 4 years ago from New Orleans, LA Author

Thanks always exploring. I hope the tips work for you.


CassyLu1981 profile image

CassyLu1981 4 years ago from Spring Lake, NC

I needed this one :) I have a goal in mind and am having a hard time getting there. Thanks for the tips, I will be sure to use them!!!


truthfornow profile image

truthfornow 4 years ago from New Orleans, LA Author

Thanks for reading and commenting CassyLu1981!


htodd profile image

htodd 4 years ago from United States

Thanks a lot for the nice post..I appreciate it

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