Writer’s block is the notion that a writer is unable to come up with new ideas to write about. Either they’ve written too much and can’t think of anything else to write about or they just don’t even know where to start.
If you suffer from writer’s block, then great news! Our ten tips below will hopefully help you unblock yourself and get writing again!
Is Writer’s Block Real?
Many would argue that it is. Regardless of whether you are a professional writer or a doctor, we have all sat down to write that five-paragraph essay in 10th grade and struggled to type a single word. However, it really is what you make of it. For example, best-selling author Philip Pullman, author of Golden Compass and the rest of “His Dark Materials” trilogy, has little sympathy for claiming to have writer’s block:
“All writing is difficult. The most you can hope for is a day when it goes reasonably easily. Plumbers don’t get plumber’s block, and doctors don’t get doctor’s block; why should writers be the only profession that gives a special name to the difficulty of working, and then expect sympathy for it?”
Regardless of his take, we wanted to provide you with some simple steps to help you get back to writing regardless of what you call it.
10 Ways to Combat Writer’s Block
Below is a list of tried and true methods to defeat writer’s block. While not all of these will work for you, we think you should at least give each a try to see if you can back to writing.
1. Take a break
Sometimes just walking outside in nature for a short while can unblock your thinking. Even a walk around the block if you aren’t close to nature. Fresh air and exercise help to get the brain juices flowing again so you can get back to writing.
2. Change your scenery
If you always write in the same place at the same time every day, try moving. Go to a coffee shop or a friend’s house. Changing your perspective while writing makes you think more creatively and you may find new inspiration that you wouldn’t have found otherwise.
3. Use a brainstorming tool
Sometimes when you’re stuck thinking about topics to write about, you just need a nudge to get started. We have several idea generation tools. Our blog title generator just requires you to enter a noun and it will spit out 10 blog title ideas to kickstart your brainstorming. Our writing prompt generator will give you new topic ideas to consider, and our essay title generator will help you think of new prompts as well.
You can also try some other physical brainstorming tools that will generate new ideas for you and can be carried around wherever you plan to write.
4. Create an outline
Sometimes you have a ton of ideas to write about, you are just struggling with how to organize your thoughts. The sheer number of thoughts makes you unable to start writing. Create a simple outline to organize your thoughts. If you have ideas that don’t really fit into the outline, write them down anyway at the bottom and you can always find a place for them in the outline later. The outline doesn’t have to exhaustive, but it should cover the main points.
5. Do some stream of consciousness writing
Sometimes the best way to unblock yourself is to just write about whatever is on your mind even if it isn’t related to the topic you were supposed to write about. Try removing all distractions and spend a solid 20 to 30 minutes writing about whatever comes to mind. Don’t try to correct grammar or spelling mistakes, just write. This technique is also known as “free writing” since you are just writing freely with no agenda.
Meditation has many great health benefits. Our favorite app is Calm which we use to take a few minutes out of our day to focus on just us. A few minutes of downtime is sometimes enough to jump-start new ideas.
7. Look at social media or read news headlines
Typically social media is a distraction, but if you’re in a pinch and you need some quick inspiration it can be a great way to find it as long as you don’t get lost in kitty videos. Try pursuing more visual social media platforms like Pinterest or Instagram and see if any posts spark interest. You can even search for topics or hashtags on the platforms for topics that you want to write about to see if anything pops up.
You can also try reading headlines on news websites to see if any local or national news sparks an idea for your writing.
8. Listen to music
Music is scientifically proven to increase creativity and expressive thinking so it’s great to have on when trying to brainstorm new ideas. We recommend listening to music without lyrics since lyrics tend to distract our minds from thinking about the topic at hand. Our favorite Spotify playlist is Deep Focus. If music isn’t your thing, try listening to ambient sounds like rain or cafe sounds.
9. Make a list
Similar to the stream of consciousness writing above, sometimes just writing a list of ideas down will spark creativity. Start with writing a list of 10 things you want to include in your next writing project. Then expand that list to 20. Try to get to 100 ideas on that list. The more ideas you write down, the more creative your thinking will become and the more likely you will be to unblock yourself.
10. Hold yourself publicly accountable
Nothing motivates people more than the thought of embarrassing themselves in front of loved ones. Make a public statement on social media or by phone to a loved one that you will have your article written by the end of that day. If not, you will owe them dinner or a long phone call or something else that might be mildly annoying and costly for you. This is sure to motivate you quickly and force you out of your writer’s block.