Writers’ Block? Tips for Working Through It


You know the feeling. That slowing, stalling, painful feeling as thoughts, ideas, and words dwindle down to a frustrating half.

Writers’ block.

We have all been there. And sometimes, to make it even worse, the feeling of being unable to write drives you to want to do so even more desperately. Writers’ block doesn’t have to be so scary and immobilizing though. There are many productive uses of your time and ways to get your mind working again that can help you to move past whatever mental block is standing in your way.  



*Read!  If you’re stuck and can’t seem to write, what better way to work through it than by reading? Picking up a book will help ideas start to circulate in your head. If those ideas seem “too similar” to what you’re reading, write them anyway. You can always develop and change pieces of them later. The important part in that moment is to write anything and everything that comes to mind in order to work through the block. Don’t be afraid to just free write! Worry about the polishing and the specifics later. Read to find some ideas and just go with it! 


*Find a Prompt!  With the internet and social media at our disposal now, it’s so easy to pull up writing prompts. A simple search can lead you to hundreds of prompts. You can find a shorter one just to get the words flowing again, or even use a longer one to start planning out a larger piece of writing. Just because it was triggered by a prompt doesn’t mean that it’s not good writing or that you can’t use it. Prompts offer a window into scenarios you may have never considered or encountered otherwise. 


*Make an Outline!  Maybe you have an idea, but just can’t seem to figure out where or how to start it. First, write down all of the information you can think of about your piece, and then start to structure it into an outline or map. Remember, outlining is writing! A useful part of outlining can be working on your characters. Starting the process of writing a piece by beginning with the characters is a great way to jump start your writing. We can identify with characters and that makes it easier to think of things to write about and get past the writers’ block.  


*Change Your Environment!  This could mean a lot of different things. Putting on some music can make a huge difference in working past a spell of writers’ block. Jazz and classical are great suggestions but really, any music that makes you feel something is good music to use at a time like this. Changing your environment could also mean moving to a new location. Maybe this is from your office to the porch or living room. Or maybe it means somewhere new entirely. Libraries and nature are always good spots of inspiration for writers. Other places to try are ones where you've had success at writing previously or a location that holds some emotional significance to you. These can also be fruitful environments to work in because they often bring bundles of thoughts and memories to mind.  


*Reminisce!  As is suggested through changing your writing environment with music or emotional locations, reminiscing can prove very successful for getting past a block. Memories can be great nonfiction pieces but can also offer a variety of lived experiences that could contribute to an idea for a work of fiction, poetry, film, or even other types of nonfiction. Writing requires emotion, sympathy, and to some degree, experience, or at the very least, a desire for experience. Recalling old memories and sentimental moments is a fantastic way to stir up some of these emotions. When in doubt or feeling stuck on what to write about, ‘the self’ and ‘yourself’ are always viable options.


-Jennafer Maselli



Photo Credit: Sharon Drummond #ds139 "Writer's Block" via photopin (license)

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