10 Proven Strategies to Overcome Writer’s Block and Reignite Your Creative Spark

It’s hard not to feel like a failure when the creative juices stop flowing. But if every author threw in the towel when their muse suddenly vanished, we’d have no books.

Writer’s block is a natural part of the writing process. One that you shouldn’t fear but anticipate. Because the worst thing you could do when your brain decides to go on vacation mode is to stop writing altogether. The only way out is through.

So if your current writing status is staring blankly at a blank page, try using one of these 10 simple strategies to break through that wall and find your words again. Be ready when (or if) the next moment of doubt appears.

Change locations

Working at the same spot for hours on end will eventually make your mind go stagnant. Writer’s block is bound to set in when you’re fatigued. Inspiration is creative nutrition, and our brains need novelty to stay stimulated. So pack up your laptop and head to a coffee shop, park, or even just another room in your home for a change of scenery. You’ll be amazed at how a simple shift in setting can spark your creative fire.

Set a 5-minute timer

Writing a novel is a big, scary, and time-consuming concept. The enormity of the task can intimidate you even if you’ve done it thousands of times before. If you find yourself feeling panicked and overwhelmed by the hugeness of it all, do yourself a favor and start small. Commit to just five minutes of focused, uninterrupted writing time and see how much you can get done. Chances are, once you get started, you’ll want to keep going. Once you get a bit of momentum, consider writing in short bursts to manage your time and energy.

Skip the beginning

There’s no rule that says you have to start your book on page one. Work with what you’ve got! If there’s a fight scene or a witty piece of dialogue that’s been stuck in your head, write that part first. You can always go back and fill in the gaps later. If you’ve been itching to write Act 3’s big battle scene, do it. Put the energy into a scene you’re excited about. The most important thing is that you’re writing and making progress. It doesn’t have to be in a linear fashion.

Braindump all of your ideas

Too many ideas can be just as paralyzing as no ideas at all. Unload your brain clutter and write down every single idea that comes to mind, no matter how random or disconnected it seems. Once everything is out of your head and onto the page, you can start to make sense of it all and find a starting point and a way around your writer’s block.

Use a prompt

Sometimes, all we want is a little direction — especially when we’re feeling directionless. The internet is ripe with writing prompts, practices, and exercises that can help you get words on paper. Even if you end up scrapping the entire piece, it’s worth it just to get your brain (and fingers) moving.

Read good writing

Get inspired. It’s hard to create good writing if you’re not exposing yourself to any. Make it a habit to start every writing session by reading something that inspires you. It could be a chapter from your favorite book or an essay by a writer you admire. Don’t worry about accidentally imitating their style or ideas. If your draft ends up sounding too much like Shakespeare or Woolf, you can always revise it. Your first priority is just to get writing.

Find your most creative hour

If you continuously struggle to write, it might be because you’re forcing yourself to work during your least productive time of day. Our energy ebbs and flows and everyone has their own optimal time for creativity. Experiment with writing at different times of the day to see when you feel most inspired and productive. Once you find that sweet spot in your schedule, take advantage of it.

It’s hard to gauge your productivity from memory alone, so consider using a tracking tool like Toggl Track. Enter your project name, push “play,” and write. Press stop when you’re done. The program will log your times. After a week or two, look at the numbers. How many words did you write during various times of day? Did you notice any other factors? The answers may surprise you. The bonus: you’re writing while you’re tracking.

Meditate

A jumbled brain makes it impossible to concentrate, let alone produce anything coherent. That’s why I regularly recommend that writers develop a meditation or mindfulness practice. Even committing to five minutes a day can significantly affect mental clarity and focus. Plus, it’s a great way to quiet all of those pesky inner critics who like to chime in when you’re feeling stuck.

One of my favorite writing classes at UCLA was “Mindfulness for Writers.” I credit it with opening me up to seeing myself as a creative. I often return to a few books that inspired me then and since: The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron, The Part Wild by Deb Norton and The Way of the Writer by Charles Johnson. I’ve recommended other books on creativity.

If you want to dig deeper, I invite you to review my post on mindfulness for writers.

Write something else

If writer’s block has you feeling completely unable to move forward on your current project, give yourself permission to stop and work on something else. It could be a short story, a poem, or even just a journal entry. Dictate ideas into your smartphone notes app. Stepping away and working those writing muscles elsewhere or differently can help you return to your main project with renewed energy and fresh ideas.

Remember that this isn’t the final draft

When people say writing is hard, this is the part they’re talking about. It’s continuing to show up and create, even when it feels like your mind is covered in cobwebs. But here’s the good news: this isn’t your final draft. It’s the first of what will probably be many. So just get something, anything, on the page. The masterpiece comes later.

And if you’re really struggling to put your idea for a novel on paper, check out my book coaching services. I’ve helped tons of authors finish their first drafts and get them ready for publication. Writer’s block doesn’t have to be the end of your story. With my help, you can push through and get your book one step closer to being out in the world. 

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Story Coach, Story Development

I’m Pam, Your Story Coach

I help busy professionals write and polish the book of their dreams. Let’s bring authenticity to your speculations, flow to your structure, and heart to your words.

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