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Tips on How to Overcome Writer's Block

Updated on August 6, 2017
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Lena Kovadlo is a writer for various content-sharing websites. She's the author of 12 books and helps other authors publish theirs.

writer's block
writer's block

Writer's Block

Writers, no matter how great they are, face writer's block at some point during their writing journey. Either they sit staring at an empty page not knowing what to write about; or they sit there writing and reject everything that makes it onto the empty page. Writer's block is not only annoying but it also prevents writers from from creating amazing pieces of writing and getting it done in time.

Being a writer, I know how annoying and frustrating it can be to be faced with writer's block, especially when you have a deadline for something that you have to write. And not being able to write when you really want to write is just as annoying and frustrating.

I decided to put together some tips on how to overcome writer's block. Perhaps you will find them useful. And if you have your own tips to share, please do. Writers should always help each other improve their craft...

If Writing Isn't Working Take a Break...

If you ever start writing something and end up hating or rejecting everything that you write STOP WRITING. I don't mean stop writing for the rest of your life. Just put the writing aside and come back to it at a later time. If you keep on at it and force yourself to continue writing (when it's clearly not working out for you) your work will suffer and so will you for that matter. There is nothing wrong with pausing, taking a breather, and returning to your creation at a later time. If you do that, if you return with a clearer head and a calmer being, you will see that your words will start to flow and you will accept what you write. You will begin to appreciate the words you lay onto the empty page. Things will fall into place...And before you know it an amazing piece of writing will emerge. How much time should you take off from working on that piece of writing is really up to you. You may take a break for a few minutes, or maybe a few hours or even days will be best. Try it out and see what works best for you.

Where to Draw Your Inspiration From...

Everything that surrounds you is a great source of inspiration. You just have to be open to it. You have to want to accept it and embrace it. Don't let anything pass you by. Always have a pen and paper ready to jot down those ideas. They will come in handy when you have writer's block. And they will also be useful because they may result in great pieces of writing. You don't necessarily need a pen and paper. You can use any other medium to record all the ideas that pop into your head. As long as you have a recording device that is all that matters.

Nature is a great source of inspiration and it is full of stories waiting to unfold, even if it is used metaphorically to tell a larger story. For example, you may be strolling through the park and notice an elderly man sitting on a bench with his young grandson feeding the birds, which may bring you back to a time when you were a kid and when you used to go to the park with your grandfather... Or you may spot a tree and it may trigger a memory of a time when you sat under it with your love...

Dreams can be a great source of inspiration. When you wake up in the morning, try to remember bits and pieces of the dreams you had and jot them down. It doesn't matter if they are vague. They can still help to give you ideas on what to write about. You never know what pieces of writing your dreams can inspire so pay attention to your dreams and if anything sticks in your head when you wake up put it on paper so you can later work on it and develop it into a complete body of work, be it short or long.

Where and How to Get Ideas For Your Writing...

If you are sitting there not sure of what to write about there's lots you can do... Think back on your recent or past experiences and write about those. Think about what matters to you, what touches your heart or moves you, what you are passionate about, your dreams and aspirations. Ponder about these things a little and ideas will start to emerge in your head.

Read on for more useful information on where and how to get ideas for your writing...

Ask Yourself a Series of Questions

You can ask yourself a serious of questions that will help get you on the track to starting your piece of writing. Here is a list of some of them that you'll hopefully find useful.

  • Have you seen a movie or show on TV, read an interesting book, or listened to a song that connected with you and spoke to you in some way?
  • Who is your idol and why is that person your idol?
  • What does friendship mean to you?
  • How would you describe unconditional love?
  • Is there anything that you are afraid of that keeps you (or kept you) from doing what you've always dreamed of?
  • Did you face any challenges in your life and how did you overcome them?
  • Have you ever felt like an outcast, like you didn't belong amongst a group of people?
  • What are your fondest childhood memories?
  • Are there any special moments in your life that you will never forget?
  • How did you cope with the loss of your loved one?

There are many more questions that you can ask yourself...So jot down a list of questions not worrying about their content and something will surely make you want to write and create something of great importance.

Come Up With a List of Titles

Come up with a list of potential titles for a piece of writing...

When you do that, something in that list will catch your eye, or ignite a spark, and ideas or even complete lines will emerge from your head...Before you know it a piece of writing will come together and one you will surely love.

When creating a list of potential titles keep in mind that the final titles for your work may change. So, don't dwell too much on the titles you come up with as they are there to spark your imagination, to get your mind working, to bring a story to life, no matter what style of writing it's in.

Besides coming up with your own titles you can also look at titles of movies, books, and songs, that have been released by others. That may inspire you as well. Even lines in books, songs, or movies can resonate with you and bring forth great ideas for writing or even complete works.

Some examples of titles:

  • The Sound of Good-Bye
  • A Moment in Time
  • Stains on My Heart
  • A Bed of Roses
  • Awakening
  • Keep on Running
  • Heart of the Ocean
  • Eternal Beast
  • Filling in the Rainbow
  • Eternal Changes
  • My Every Color
  • Pieces of Me

Come Up With a List of Words

If your goal is to write a poem or a lyric and you find yourself blocked go ahead and come up with a list of words. The list doesn't have to be long. Having six words in the list is a good enough number from personal experience. Once you've got your list together go ahead and open up that empty Word document, or take out a pen and paper, and start writing your poem or lyric making sure to include all the words from your list in there.

When you are creating your list the words don't have to be related to each other. They can be as far away from each other as you want. And that may actually be to your advantage because having a list of words (for example: bear, banana, dream, vacation, tongue, daisy) that are not related to each other in any way will get your creative juices flowing, in turn getting rid of that writer's block and helping you to write something and something you will actually like rather than reject. The piece will turn out to be an interesting one and may even result in you getting more writing ideas.

You can try using this technique/approach when writing prose as well. It can be just as effective. But I use it more for poetry and lyrics than anything else.

Take a Look at Pictures

Take a look at pictures in a magazine, book, newspaper, Internet or photo album and see what ideas come into your head from looking at those images and write about them. This will help you create the beginnings of stories (whether fiction or non-fiction) that you can later develop into full stories for others to enjoy.

Remember that the stories you write don't necessarily have to be about exactly what is depicted in the pictures you look at. Images can very well trigger something entirely different in your mind and memory and still help you bring to life works that will have meaning, depth, and emotion.

Set Up Five Minute Exercises

Another great thing you can do to help cure writer's block and get yourself to start writing is to set up five minute exercises. Simply set a timer for five minutes and start writing. Before setting a timer, however, first look at an image, think of a sound that speaks to you (roar, cry, boom, meow, laugh, trickle, bang, etc.), or a phrase that resonates with you (it can be a title) and then set the timer and write. You will be amazed at what you can come up with in those five minutes.

When you write, forget about everything that's running through your head and just let the words flow, let the pen glide across the paper without questioning anything you write at the moment. Don't pause and think. Just write. Doing this will make for a more meaningful, more effective body of work.

When the timer beeps signaling the end of five minutes put down your pen and read what you've written. Then go ahead and revise what you think needs to be improved or removed. You don't have to do it right away. You can set the work aside and come back to it at a later time. Of course, you may find that revision is not needed. Most likely though that is not the case.

A piece of writing can always use a little revision. Set it aside and come back to it at a later time. Doing so you will find that you'll want to change something in your piece, be it a few words, or a few sentences. You may even find that there is a lot more to tell in this story. If that is the case, go ahead and continue developing it. Just make sure you don't stray too far away from the original as it has the most energy in it. Also, be sure to keep the original version as you may need to go back to it at any moment.

Where to Tackle Writing?

Every writer works differently and writes best in different settings. Some prefer to write at a desk in a closed room; others outdoors or at an open space; others at a library; others with music in the background, etc.

I think one great place to write is when you are sitting on a bench, a light breeze is blowing, and you hear the waves as they hit the shore. This can bring forth lots of beautiful, moving, and amazing pieces of writing, regardless of what type of writing it is - poetry, lyrics, prose, etc.

I've done this many times and it has really helped me write. Not only is this setting inspiring but it also helps to clear your head, which improves writing and makes it easier to figure out what to write about as well.

Writing in your room (on a computer perhaps) can also work. Just make sure you have a window open or the AC on. If the room is hot and stuffy and it's hard to breathe your writing will suffer and so will you.

You might think it's funny but great pieces of writing can come about while you taking a shower or sitting on the toilet doing your business. They may not be complete works but at the very least they will be great ideas. I've written many pieces (poetry and lyrics) while taking a shower and while sitting on the toilet - some were lines or ideas while others were complete works. There is one downside however. If you are taking a shower, you can't take a pen and paper and write things down. You have to rely on your memory. So if you get ideas or even complete lines in your head, while taking a shower, you will have to repeat them over and over so they are committed to memory and will not vanish after you get out of the shower and can finally write them down.

I hope this hub will be helpful in your writing journey. I hope it even inspires you in some way. Feel free to share your own tips for overcoming writer's block and for figuring out what to write about... As always, I look forward to hearing back from you.

Where have you written most of your work?

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© 2012 Lena Kovadlo


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