The fact is that almost every writer faces writer’s block at some point in their career. Deadlines, storylines or even airlines can be the cause of this intellectual affliction. Writer’s block is real and can greatly affect your output.
But, every writer of note has willed themselves out of this mental stupor. Writer’s block doesn’t have to stop a budding Homer in their tracks.
There are many ways to overcome this form of procrastination that works wonders.
Today, let’s look at 23 ways that prove effective to help you get rid of writer’s block.
writer's block DEFINITION
What is writer's block?
Writer’s block is when a writer experiences creative slowdown or can't create new work; essentially an artistic full-stop. It’s the inability of an author to compose new, original material that moves a narrative forward. The term writer’s block is used in reference to any writing or composition process where creativity is stunted. The production of new work grinds to a halt. It’s often referred to as creative constipation. Frustration, fear, anger, dread, and other strong emotions sometimes accompany it.
What causes writer's block?
- Physical illness
- Bills piling up
1. How to cure writer's block
Read for inspiration
One of the best ways to overcome writer’s block is to read. Whether your favorite author or someone new, reading is a reliable cure.
When you take in another writer’s words on the page — a writer who has in all likelihood overcome the block as well, at some point — it challenges and motivates you to get the words out.
The inspiration for many writers is their own writing heroes. Shakespeare to Faulkner, Byron to Plath, all have their own styles and voices that have nourished generations of creatives. Writer’s block gloms onto the idle, not the well-read.
You could open the best screenwriting books for writer’s block help. So pick up a Kindle or an actual bound book, and kickstart the motivation.
2. how to get rid of writer's block
Write away your writer's block
Even if you copy words from another source, getting something down on your screen or pad is a useful tool to get rid of blockage.
What is writer’s block, after all, but a stoppage of writing?
So do the opposite: just write.
Try transcribing a poem or song lyrics and see what happens.
Whip up a to-do list, an outline for another project or story, a free-association paragraph or two. You’ll discover it goes a long way.
Just as the adage “fake it 'til you make it” fits the bill in business, it also works with writing. Get the writing muscles moving and your brain will catch up before you know it.
There is nothing bad about writing something that, on the surface, appears unusable. It’s practice. You’re training your mind and fingertips for what matters.
If Chris Brown gets stuck in writer's block, he'll just "write it out."
3. HOW TO GET RID OF WRITER'S BLOCK
Use a writing prompt
Writing prompts are an effective way to overcome writer’s block. Having another brain issue a challenge can get a lot of writers going, even you.
Prompts from writer-specific sites can be more in-tune with the level at which professional writers work. But the whimsy of other random sites and ideas can also do much to alleviate writer’s block.
This is basically looking without, instead of looking within, for what to do when you have writer’s block. Taking the pressure off yourself can free your mind and get the ball (- point pen) rolling.
“The wonderful thing about writing is that there is always a blank page waiting. The terrifying thing about writing is that there is always a blank page waiting.”
― J.K. Rowling
4. How to get over writer's block
Develop a character
Since you want to know how to get over your block, create a character who already has the answers.
The character you describe in writing doesn’t even need to have meaning, only features. A woman with red hair, green eyes, and a pout. A pimple-faced man in a trucker hat. Throw in a verb and a location and you have the beginning of a story.
“A woman with red hair, green eyes, and a pout stands in front of her bedroom mirror …”
“A pimple-faced man in a trucker hat sprints down the sidewalk …”
The character doesn’t necessarily have to know all the right answers.
You can even create a version of yourself. Some of the best characters came about this way. If the character turns into a cure, then you’ve created the right character.
You can even use a character development worksheet to get this process going even faster.
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If you're going to develop a new character, it's critical to lay out the ins and outs for a fully-formed character. Download our FREE, worksheet to get you started.
5. how to cure writer's block
Try a different genre
If you want to figure out how to get past writer’s block, we recommend switching up your writing genre. If you are a screenwriter, write a short story or essay. If you’re a novelist, write a poem.
It’s almost as like taking a vacation from your usual writing style and vocation to explore a new voice. It is a new way to interpret the world. Also, you might consider writing your same format, but with a different style or approach.
Expository writing can be tiresome. Try a few lines of descriptive text. Next, maybe a persuasive argument within your story.
Writer’s block shuts the door. These style exercises open windows.
6. how to overcome writer's block
Put together a puzzle
Working with other parts of the brain can be a big help.
Whether it’s a jigsaw puzzle, tangram, sudoku, or crossword, puzzling your brain stimulates dopamine and gives you a creativity boost.
Furthermore, the analytical nature of a puzzle bleeds into the writer’s craft. Putting yourself in a headspace to analyze or assess can lead to overcoming writer’s block.
7. how to get rid of writer's block
Change your music
Playing music can be a good method for how to get over writer’s block. If it’s not working, change the music.
Now, change it again. Deejay your way out of a corner.
Music has been a cure to spur creativity ever since authors put quill to paper. Music not only calms the savage beast, but it also inspires the blocked writer.
Youtube and Spotify playlists exist that focus on writer’s block help. Ultimately, only you can determine what music works best.
A lot of writers swear by Elgar or Handel when crafting period-specific tales, for example.
8. HOW TO GET over OF WRITER'S BLOCK
Practice another art form
This trick is one of the most fun ways to get the creative juices flowing. Singing, painting, sculpting, or dancing will get your creative juices flowing. Bust out the watercolors. Take out crayons and doodle away.
Download the Pulp Fiction script and act out the scene between Vincent and Jules as they clean up the car.
Practicing another art also gives you a built-in writing prompt: “A writer dances in the living room, loud music shaking the floor …”
You get the idea.
“Writing about a writer’s block is better than not writing at all.”
— Charles Bukowski
9. HOW TO GET RID OF WRITER'S BLOCK
Find a new hobby
A craft or hobby can be the best answer for beating the creative blues.
Whittling, cobbling, and cooking all count as hobbies! So do gardening, knitting, and collecting snow globes.
A hobby or craft gives the mind a sense of workflow and completion. They require attention. They force your brain to focus.
Focus is an enemy of writer’s block and a friend to the writer.
So if you don’t have a hobby, maybe it’s time to find one. Your world and your writing will broaden. Try your local community college, which undoubtedly has an array of classes.
10. getting over WRITER'S BLOCK
Watch a short film
Watching a short film, a concise and contained story, is a surefire solution to moving forward with whatever you’re writing.
Just like features, short films provide different perspectives, new ways of thinking, emotion, and closure ― but in less time.
Voila! You’ve just written your way out of the doldrums.
Take a look at a genre-specific short film. Make a quick outline of it. Then expand on the story in a few sentences. What happens next?
11. GETTING OVER WRITER'S BLOCK
Try cleaning your house
Artists tend to work in spaces consumed by things. If this sounds like you, try a quick tidy-up. You might find that un-cluttering your workspace also de-clutters your mind. Cleaning gives you a “fresh start” and might lead to overcoming writer’s block.
This is a question of taste. If you discover that clutter works for you, by all means, keep it messy.
But shift your clutter around. Seeing your area, even your mountains of clutter, in a new light is what you’re after.
When afternoon sun reflects off the south face of your newly rearranged laundry pile, you might get inspired.
Since you need to know how to get over unproductively, we’ll emphasize right here that cleaning or rearranging your stuff is a go-to cure.
“Breaking through writer’s block is like thinking out of the box: Both require an ability to imagine a world outside your four walls or rearranging them to get a better view.”
— Susan J. McIntire
12. HOW TO CURE WRITER'S BLOCK
Create a story circle
The story circle is a storytelling tool and it helps you improve the structure of a story and was originally based on Joseph Campbell's Hero's Journey.
As a writing exercise, this can be effective to write out your story and think of all the elements holistically as a way to kick your writer's block.
13. GETTING OVER WRITER'S BLOCK
Complete a simple task
Completing a simple task is another way to move forward and get past writer’s block.
Taking out the trash, scrambling eggs, and watering plants all have the potential to impact creativity. You’ll also be able to scratch a chore off your list.
Making coffee is a simple and quick task. It also leads beautifully to the next item on our list of how to get over writer’s block.
Whatever your simple task is, make sure it isn’t stress-inducing in any way. Stressful tasks can be counterproductive. Multitasking, too, is not the best answer to cure your block. Stick to one thing.
14. GETTING OVER WRITER'S BLOCK
Make a writing schedule
Does a routine sound boring?
As a writer, a routine can be your best friend.
Sitting down to write at the same time every day, and for the same length of time, forces the creative mind to produce the goods. If you go into it treating writing as your job, then you are simply more likely to get your job done.
That doesn’t mean it has to be a chore or a hassle. The fun and inspiration will come. Routine is the process you use to get to that place of fun and inspiration.
Your schedule can be your best cure when the muse won’t visit.
Your schedule doesn’t have to be ironclad, but routine and consistency are what you’re going for here.
Every film needs a shooting schedule.
Every writer needs a writing schedule. Routine is not a dirty word.
“Writer’s block? I’ve heard of this. This is when a writer cannot write, yes? Then that person isn’t a writer anymore. I’m sorry, but the job is getting up in the f***ing morning and writing for a living.”
— Warren Ellis
15. Writer's block cure
Practice a new language
This is one of our favorites hacks for keeping pen to paper. The beauty of French, the structure of Japanese, the melody of Italian, the vowels of Arabic — learning another language, or involving a language you already have mastered, can give you a big creative push.
Maybe one of the characters you’ve created speaks another language. This backstory alone can get a writer over a hurdle. Mashable has tips on where to look to learn a new language.
Another hack is to take a poem or phrase in another language and use it as the focus of your story.
For instance, je ne sais quois … What does the French term mean? How can it be applied to your work?
Research the history of the phrase, and your writing will take on a whole new life.
16. WRITER'S BLOCK cure
Drink some coffee
We aren’t the first to suggest coffee to boost output. Caffeine does wonders stimulating the mind. It spurs writers in every medium to get moving. Literally, it’s a diuretic.
If caffeine isn’t for you, other natural stimulants exist. Ginseng, ginkgo biloba, and ― oh yes, wait for it ― dark chocolate all act as natural stimulants
“I don’t sit around waiting for passion to strike me. I keep working steadily because I believe it is our privilege as humans to keep making things. Most of all, I keep working because I trust that creativity is always trying to find me, even when I have lost sight of it.”
― Elizabeth Gilbert
17. GETTING OVER WRITER'S BLOCK
Change your scenery
This seems like a no-brainer in our quest for a writer’s block cure. Still, most people get stuck in a rut that has less to do with what they’re doing than where they’re doing it.
Even something as simple as changing the direction you usually face when you’re writing can do wonders for your creative energy.
It can also do wonders for your characters. Travel is an eye-opening experience.
This is true with the people you come across. Meeting and observing new people in new places will get you past writer’s block.
What is writer’s block? It’s quicksand.
What is travel? It’s movement and a lifeline.
“There's a lot of optimism in changing scenery, in seeing what's down the road."
― Conor Oberst
18. WRITER'S BLOCK cure
Get some exercise
Exercise does wonders for the body and mind. Endorphins give you a runner’s high, which can translate to productivity and energy in all other areas of life and work.
You don’t have to run a marathon or do hot yoga to get the blood pumping. Try alternating between 10 push-ups and 10 sit-ups every 10 minutes over the course of an hour.
It’ll do wonders.
Pick something easy. Even stretching helps. Remember, objects in motion tend to stay in motion. Remaining sedentary will make sure your writer’s block doesn’t go anywhere, either.
19. WRITER'S BLOCK CURE
Go outside and play
Let’s face it, if you’re stuck at a computer with a bad case of the blank page, it might mean that you aren’t living enough to write about living. What can you do?
Get outside and live a little. Or, go outside and live a lot!
Laughter and joy in the real world can be the perfect antidote to the crime series you’re creating. Even a writer’s group counts as play. You’re engaging, communicating ― living.
Join a group of writers to get rid of writer's block.
20. WRITER'S BLOCK CURE
Dictate and record
Maybe the most fun way to overcome your impediment is to tell yourself a story out loud and record it, giving you a solid place to start.
Even kicking off with “once upon a time” requires creative expansion. Pretend you have an audience. Children, old folks, tourists, a judge: your imagined audience can guide your tone.
You might find that, for now, it’s easier to tell a story than to write it. Use what you’ve got!
If you want to get over your block? Tell yourself a story.
21. WRITER'S BLOCK CURE
Have a cocktail to cure writer’s block
I don’t advocate resorting to alcohol all the time, but sipping a cocktail has certainly helped many a writer.
There is a fine line between having a drink to loosen up and being unable to type from blurry-eyed tequila-vision. You don’t want to spend every waking hour seeing the world at a dutch angle.
So you’ve taken a sip. Now use your drink as a writing prompt. What does it look like, taste like, and feel like as you swallow?
Hey doc, I’ve got the writer’s block.
Take two sips and call me in the morning.
“When you work hard all day with your head and know you must work again the next day what else can change your ideas and make them run on a different plane like whiskey? When you are cold and wet what else can warm you?”
— Ernest Hemingway
22. WRITER'S BLOCK CURE
Go through a guided visualization
If you feel a creative block approaching, it could also be due to overthinking. Another way to clear your mind is through guided visualization — which is easier than mediating and a great way to activate the imagination.
This could take about 10-minutes, but it can be a surefire way of shaking you out of things.
Follow along right here:
23. WRITER'S BLOCK CURE
Clear your mind to cure writer's block
The truth is, prayer, meditation, yoga, or whatever you want to do to center your creative mind, can be clutch as a cure for writer’s block. Meditative activities such as prayer help to center the creative mind.
The clean slate in your head can inspire you when you face the clean slate of the page.
Tips for writing short films
We’ve given you ideas for overcoming writer’s block. Try one, try a few, or try them all. But most importantly keep writing. Make note of what works for you — we promise something will.
But make sure you realize that when you can’t create, it’s usually a mental block more than creative one. Now that you’ve kicked the muse to the curb, it’s time to focus your writing even more. Learn the best tips for writing a short film that gets noticed.