4 Tips for Overcoming Writer’s Block

Do you find yourself challenged to post regularly?  Got a book inside that you can’t get going on?  You’re not alone!  Here are some tips that may help:

Symptom #1  You just don’t feel like writing

Remedy:  Schedule blocks of time specifically for writing and sit at the keyboard at the appointed hour no matter what.  Offer yourself a reward to reinforce your commitment such as “after I knock out this article I’m going to the gym/the store/the park”.

Symptom #2:  Experiencing stress or anxiety when trying to write

Remedy:  Get away from the computer for a few minutes.  Stretch, do jumping jacks, grab a snack, just give yourself a short break.  Examine the environment where you are writing.  Are you sitting at a messy desk?  Is there adequate lighting, a comfy chair, the computer at an ergonomic height?  When you look past the monitor what do you see? Is the the room supporting your creativity or is it challenging your concentration?  If possible, change whatever is distracting you.

Symptom #3:  Getting tired when  you sit down to write

Remedy:  Consider your natural body rhythms.  What time of day are you most energized?  Some people can be wildly productive early in the morning while others prefer working at night.  Figure out when you get your best writing done and schedule accordingly.

Symptom #4:  Not finishing a writing project

Remedy:  If you are working on an e-book or writing a novel, you might benefit by breaking down the chapters into manageable blocks of time.  Find yourself stuck on what to write for the next chapter?  Try starting at the end of the book and write backwards.  Having a vision of the project completed is another suggestion.

Need more assistance?  Check out the War of Art, by Steven Pressfield, highly recommended for getting beyond resistance and realizing your creative dreams.


Dee Relyea

Dee is a career coach and workshop facilitator who helps people figure out "what they want to do when they grow up." She blogs about creative self employment and career fulfillment and teaches for the Small Business Development Center at UW-Madison. 


  4 comments for “4 Tips for Overcoming Writer’s Block

  1. February 9, 2010 at 9:31 pm

    Dee Relyea – I agree with you.
    Definitely when things are not working fine, we should try to find the root cause. Once root cause is known then one can work to solve those issues.
    But if one is not in state to analyze the situation, they should take a break. Once in good state, then we would be able to track the cause.

    Your article will really help. Thanks

  2. February 11, 2010 at 3:41 am

    I forget where I heard this recommendation, but it was something to the effect of: “write on what you are emotionally keyed up about if you are having a block”

    Of course, whether this advice works for blogs with a specific content focus is probably a different story. I guess it depends on whether writers of those blogs can get themselves keyed-up on a subject that falls within the blogs’ foci

  3. February 11, 2010 at 12:53 pm

    Toronto writer Paul Lima, author of “The Six-figure Freelancer: How to Find Price and Manage Corporate Writing Assignments” recommends a process called clustering or brainstorming as a pre-writing activity, rather than staring at your keyboard and blank screen for inspiration.

    Clustering is a word association exercise he recommends after doing interviews and taking notes.

    It enables you to put to paper what you know about a topic before you begin to write about it. He says it helps you to get your knowledge down on paper and reduces the time spent pondering about a subject and leafing through your notes.

    Here is a brief summary on how to cluster:
    1. Write a keyword or phrase in the middle of the paper.
    2. Draw a circle around it.
    3. Draw a dash from the circle.
    4. Write the first word or phrase associated with the keyword.
    5. Circle that word or phrase.
    6. Draw a dash from that new word or phrase.
    7. Write down the next word or phrase that comes to mind.
    8. Circle it.
    9. Repeat these steps.

    When you run out of word associations, return to the keyword, draw a line from it, write down the next word or phrase that comes to mind and continue the process outlined above. Keep doing this. Work quickly and put down everything that comes to mind.

    Paul says drawing the lines and circles sparks the creative side of the brain. I totally agree.

    For more information about clustering, Paul suggests reading the book “Writing the Natural Way,” by Dr. Gabriele Rico. (www.gabrielerico.com)

    Hope this helps! I know it helps me when I’m stuck.

  4. June 7, 2011 at 7:59 am

    Thank you all for your comments. I find your suggestions to be helpful to me personally. Elizabeth, your technique sounds a lot like Mind Mapping which is a wonderful tool for creative brainstorming and it enable the right and left sides of the brain to be engaged simultaneously. Bradley, I’d forgotten the Zen Theory of Change, thanks for the reminder. It is definitely applicable here.

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