How to Overcome And Cure Writer’s Block Fast with 101 Proven Strategies. Get Rid of Writer’s Block today.
101 advanced strategies to get rid of writer’s block used by writers because they work. It’s the only guide to beat writer’s block you’ll need…
The team at Stop Procrastinating surveyed 2500 writers to find out the extent of their writer’s block.
Just over 63% of writers said they’d experienced writer’s block so badly they thought about giving up writing completely.
The causes identified in the survey ranged from high expectations, fear of failure, to pressure to file too much copy with unrealistic deadlines.
But the survey found something much more powerful:
It discovered the secret and proven strategies that writers have used to stop and cure writer’s block and carry on writing.
Who better to ask how to get rid of writer’s block than the writers who have beaten it.
And then we discovered something inspiring:
We asked how many overcame their writer’s block.
All of them.
They all found a way through the block and kept on going.
Sure, they struggled for a long time to come up with the right solution to beat and finally get rid of their writer’s block. But they got there in the end.
But you don’t have time to waste working out what the right cure is for you.
I’ve put together the most comprehensive and well-researched guide to beating writer’s block so you don’t have to.
This guide is full of tips and strategies that really work because they are based on the experience of real writers overcoming and beating writer’s block.
But I didn’t stop there.
I researched the latest science and psychology and assessed all the good, the not-so-good, and the plain awful advice that already exists online so you don’t have to it.
I’m so dedicated to finding the right answers, I spent months researching.
I’ve created for the first time the most comprehensive plan to help you get rid of writer’s block with 101 separate tips.
All 101 pieces of advice have been used successfully by writers. Some of them are not for the faint hearted, while others are just simply inspiring.
Read the full 101 strategies below and unblock your creativity today for good:
Do you get up early or stay up late to do your best writing?
Many scientific studies have found that creative activity in the brain is highest during and immediately after sleep.
It’s a technique used by many writers successfully. Research suggests sleep and dreams help build remote links between information that our mind in the day struggle with. In studies, those who slept on a problem did significantly better than those who didn’t.
Another recent study found that relaxing the brain’s focus on a problem enabled it to solve it.
Sleep, in other words, creates insight.
Our study confirmed that writers who changed the time of day they wrote to earlier in the morning were more likely to beat their writer’s block.
However, nights owls still used sleep to improve their writing:
Writers who said they were night owls had a nap before they began their late night sessions.
There are other reasons why the morning is ideal for creativity:
The morning is quiet. You are well rested and the day’s distractions have yet to begin.
And distractions today are more prevalent than ever. In fact, those writer’s who wrote successfully resisted checking their emails or social media or turning on the radio or TV until they had finished their day’s writing.
2. Avoid a hangover: stop when the going is good
Don’t even think about carrying on.
Writers revealed that they imagined writing for too long was like staying too late at a party: you become tired, irritable and not much fun. You’ll also remember the party in that mood rather than all the hours of fun that you did have before you got grumpy.
Simply put, give up when the going is good and you are more likely to look forward to writing again.
Stop when you hit a block and you might not be motivated to hit the typewriter for a while
3. Get through the pain barrier, treat writing like a job
Imagine getting up in the morning and not wanting to go to work. Sure, a lot of people don’t want to, but they have to and they still do a good job when they arrive.
Many writers who suffer from writer’s block because they are waiting for the muse inspire them might be waiting a long time.
Take some time out to think, but at the end of the day you’re going to have to write. Like in most jobs at the beginning there will be pain.
But once you get through the pain barrier, you’ll enter the flow stage, where your concentration sings and your writing comes naturally.
Get through the pain barrier and you’re half way there.
4. Stop digital distractions
When you’re feeling the pain of getting going or the lull in concentration that comes from work, what do you reach for?
And what in our digitally enhanced world is only a swipe or click away?
Millions and millions of pages of distraction from funny cat videos to erudite articles, from Facebook updates to the latest medical breakthrough in the news.
I once spent an half an hour watching trailers for a bunch of random movies. Then to make up for it, I read an intelligent online newspaper, at which point it was lunch time and half the day had passed by.
Cutting out the Internet connection gives writer’s a creativity boost. No longer are they tempted to browse the Internet or answer an email when the going gets tough.
Even if writer’s aren’t looking for distraction to avoid work, they can easily become distracted if an email pops up that they respond to.
Many writers in our survey said they downloaded a website blocker to help them to write which helped improve their concentrate and output.
It hard to believe but some of the most hardy of writers said giving themselves the short sharp shock of an ice cold shower got their creative juices flowing again.
Having a cold shower increases alertness, improves mood and reduces anxiety – which is just what you might be feeling if you are worrying you can’t write any more.
6. Limit the time you write
While some writers can produce all day, the majority create better work by limiting the hours that they write to a maximum of three or four hours a day.
Set a deadline and a time limit so you’re more focused.
This worked brilliantly for many of the writers surveyed.
7. Do something else instead
Go for walk, bake a cake, have sex: just move away from the desk and stop writing.
A period of time away from your desk, undertaking another activity (not browsing the Internet), allows the mind to work on an unconscious level.
Often I find taking a short break can result with a solution only a couple of minutes into the new activity.
The number of half finished cakes I’ve baked is legendary.
A change of scene or activity was a top cure for writer’s block for those writers who undertook our survey. Here’s a few quick and easy baking recipes to get you started.
8. Break the task down
Break down the task of writing into bite-sized chunks by creating a plan or outline and giving yourself realistic targets and deadlines.
Well, you’ll be using the same technique as one of the most prolific and successful of all writers.
The secret of getting ahead is getting started. The secret of getting started is breaking your complex overwhelming tasks into small manageable tasks, and then starting on the first one.
9. Frankly, just don’t give a damn
Many writers learnt to lower their expectations and not care about the first draft.
Just getting something down was crucial to getting over the block.
With no expectations and the assumption that you’re first draft won’t be any good, you’ll begin writing. You’ll soon realise that what you’ve produced actually isn’t half bad.
Of course, the real work comes later when you edit what you have written.
It’s much easier to edit and improve something that’s already been written than a blank page.
10. Write a letter
Follow the the advice of one of America’s greatest writers.
When musing over writer’s block, John Steinbeck suggested a good cure was to imagine writing a letter to a friend or a relative.
You could start by telling them about a great new friend you’ve met, a character from your novel or the topic of the content you want to write about.
11. Become a scribbler
Learning how to write anywhere was a key remedy for many writers.
Being able to jot down notes anywhere and anytime unlocked their imagination and removed the pressure of writing at a set time of day.
The reason for this is similar to why sleeping helps creativity:
When you aren’t focusing on the task in hand, say because you’re driving in a taxi, on the bus, or eating lunch, your mind will be working in the background on the issue.
And guaranteed just when you are in the middle of something else an idea will come to you and if you don’t have a notebook, well… you might lose your moment of creation forever.
Many famous writers keep a notebook with them at all times for when an idea comes to them and they need to write at a moment’s notice.
Many writers who suffered from writer’s block taught themselves to keep notes and write whenever they were inspired.
12. Create a routine
Whether in the morning, afternoon or late at night, many respondents to our survey said that disciplining themselves to write at the same time every day had an major impact on their creativity.
You could keep a diary of when you should write. Writing down your writing goals with a specific time in mind is key to achieving them.
This suggestion is clearly from the school of hard knocks. This is not for the faint hearted.
A number of writer’s who responded to our survey told themselves to toughen up and get over their self-pity.
One writer used a daily affirmation: “You aren’t a writer unless you write. Inspiration is 99% sweat, ditch the self-pity, no more excuses, write and be brilliant or just burn what you’ve written!”
It did the trick.
14. Mind map a break out
Write down ideas that come to you and pin them to a board or scatter them over the floor.
Don’t be constrained by the page in front of you.
Write in scraps, notebooks and throw it all together at the end.
A number of writers started listening to inspiring music while they worked and it helped unlock their creativity.
Hilary Mantel, the award-winning writer of Wolf Hall, has said she listens to music while she is writing.
Many writers said classical music worked well as the lack of lyrics didn’t distract and this type of music put them into a lower trance state allowing them to access their imagination far more effectively.
16. Stop over thinking
Writer’s block is over thinking. You need to take it easy and stop worrying.
Enjoy your writing.
Know that every professional great writers suffers the ups and downs of writing.
Stop struggling to write and let yourself write naturally.
17. Give yourself a pep talk
One writer from our survey gave themselves a pep talk that worked like a miracle.
She told herself:
Overcome writers block by putting one word in front of the other to create a sentence and then a paragraph, before you know it you’ve got a page and you can congratulate yourself by no longer having writer’s block.
18. Build up a sweat or just amble around
Taking up exercise increases energy levels and improves the flow of oxygen to the brain.
As a result, exercise has been linked with improved creativity, increased focus and the creation of extra cell matter. It has even been found to prevent age-related cognitive disorders, such as dementia.
If there is one elixir of life it is exercise.
However, not all exercise has to be hard work. The stereotype of the walking genius is based on truth. Researchers at Stanford University found that walking improves a person’s creative output by 60%.
Taking a break to quicken the heartbeat results in quickening your writing.
19. Visualise your story
Rather than writing, sit or lie back and daydream about characters in details.
Watch them grow and act out scenarios in front of your very eyes.
Once you have them living and breathing in your mind, writing will be a lot easier.
Mindfulness meditation helped writers overcome their block, saying that meditation allowed them to expand their mind through peaceful contemplation.
This is backed up by research showing that meditation reduces anxiety and increases blood flow to the brain.
You can get some free guided meditations here.
21. Maybe it’s not good enough
Writer’s block can be your minds way of telling you that what you have written is not good enough.
Try to rewrite it or put it in a draw and come back to it in a couple of weeks.
Some give up and start writing something else. Maybe you’ll end up writing the same book in a different way.
Writers in our survey found putting their work away or starting again gave them a fresh perspective on their writing, which increased their creativity.
Some writers complain that living in the city means they spend a lot of their time procrastinating. The city provided them with an abundance of distractions.
From going to cafes and chatting with friends to spending all night on the town.
For those with almost no self-control, the only option was the move to the countryside. While for some others they preferred heading out for a weekend break or retreat for a week. That’s sounds less extreme than selling their home.
The playwright Jez Butterworth wrote his award-winning play Jerusalem after he moved to the countryside. Before, he said, he’d spent most of his time hanging out in bars or cafes talking with friends.
23. Walk and talk
As I’ve already pointed out walking to solve a problem is proven to work.
But you don’t want to lose any of your creative ideas. Some writers found that walking and talking into a dictaphone helped them create.
Sherlock Holmes often solved his trickiest cases by walking, often talking not into a dictaphone but to Watson. As we don’t all have a Watson, a small recording device will have to do.
24. Crawl under the bed covers
Yes, that’s right, some of the respondents of our survey went back to their childhood and wrote in bed or even under the covers.
Bed is a relaxing place so it put them into a lower trance state where they were able to access their imagination more effectively.
Just try not to fall asleep.
Many writers started writing because they were inspired by a book.
Go back and read passages that inspired you to write in the first place.
It will lift your spirits, remind you of your original excitement and interested in writing and will motivate you to create again.
26. NLP it
Lift you mood by doing some neuro linguistic programming or NLP. Experts in this field argue that in order to be successful you need to tap into or re-create the mood or atmosphere of a time when you were happy, creative and motivated.
A technique would be to sit quietly and to visualize how you are feeling now. Once you have that image, make it small. Then create a new image of the time you were feeling great. Remember the work you did, the emotions, the ease with which you wrote. Then make this image small and bring back the other image. Now replace the old image with the new more positive image from years ago.
27. WOOP my writing
Most visualisation techniques have little evidence to support them, except one.
The scientific name for it is Mental Contrasting with Implementation Intentions and is the result of 20 years of scientific research by New York University psychologist Garbiele Oettingen and her colleague Heather Kappes.
How does it work?
Well you don’t imagine the way you want the future to be, as most pop psychologists will suggest. That will make it harder to achieve. Think of yourself beating writer’s block and you’ll probably become more blocked.
The four stages are:
- Think about what you want to achieve for five minutes – a life free of writers block, or a work environment that is highly productive and creative, for instance.
- Then vividly imagine the best thing you associate with having achieved that outcome (an emotion, more time, feeling happier, more in control).
- Ask yourself what internal obstacles are most likely to prevent you from achieving this – this is about the internal rather than external issues you have. What is stopping you beating writer’s block.
- Then create an ‘if-then’ plan in order to take action if that obstacle arises. “If I find myself feeling I have writer’s block, I’ll go for a walk to think through the story or I will just keep writing through it.”
This technique works by showing you what you want, but helps motivate you to achieve it by ensuring you create a plan to deal with any obstacles. You can’t achieve your aim just by dreaming about it.
28. If-then plan
As we suggested in tip 27, using an If-Then Plan can be key to beating writer’s block. We thought we’d run through it in more detail as it can work well on its own too.
More than 150 studies have shown that deciding when and where you will do something, from dieting to studying, from when to visit the gym or writing creatively, can increase your chances of success by 200 to 300 percent.
A simple if-then plan adds a significant evidence-based weapon to your attempts to start writing again.
So what is the if-then plan?
Quite simply you have already planned to do something else when something or someone distracts you from the task in hand. For instance, if it is 3pm and I haven’t finish my writing, then I will turn off my email and turn off my smartphone for an hour.
Other if-then plans to beat writer’s block might include:
If I am getting too distracted by the Internet, then I will turn it off from 8am and concentrate on writing.
If it is 10pm, then I will spend half an hour writing.
If I haven’t done any creative writing, then I will lock myself away and write for two hours.
Does it really work?
A meta-analysis (or a review of research) into this technique found that the if-then plan improved success rates for every goal from reducing alcohol consumption, to walking instead of driving and recycling.
And the results are long-term as well. Of those who wanted to take up regular exercise, those using the ‘if-then’ plan were still exercising six months later.
The plans work because the human mind processes binary information and contingencies effectively. You are essentially programming the brain to act in particular way at a particular moment, often unconsciously.
At the moment that the distraction occurs, you have already planned an alternative action without having to think about it or spend time coming up with an alternative.
The great thing about if-then plan is that they are quick to make. You can write a couple at the beginning of each day.
29. Join a writing group
Writing groups keep you motivated and offer mutual support from other writers. You can set deadlines for the following session as well as find a writing buddy who can comment on your work.
Or maybe you are confident enough to have the whole group comment on your work. It will certainly ensure you write as well as you can.
Find more ideas for writer’s groups here.
30. Read your story aloud
Taking a step back and reading out your story can help you to really listen to the voice of your writing and your characters.
Do they sound authentic? Maybe this has been the problem – you aren’t sure of what you are writing.
This technique works also for non-fiction writers and bloggers. Reading out loud an article can help engage your mind in a different way and come up with solutions.
Reading out loud can give you another perspective – either you’ll continue writing with renewed confidence or you’ll be encouraged to change what you are writing.
31. Do a Jonathan Franzen
The author of The Corrections and Freedom says he thinks through his writing and characters in complete silence.
He goes to a quiet room, puts in some ear plugs and dons a face mask to block out all distraction.
This gives him an intensity of concentration that, he says, overcomes any writer’s block and improves the quality of his writing.
32. Keep a notepad by your bed
Talking of ear plugs and sleeping masks can only make you think of one thing: sleep.
I’ve already suggested that getting up early can help your writing, but in order to write as well as you can, you need to be refreshed. So ensuring you get a good night’s sleep is essential.
As you know, the sleeping brain is a great problem solver. But avoid insomnia and capture those early morning moments of creative genius by keeping a notepad by your bed for when the perfect solution to your writing problem emerges from the depths of your unconscious brain.
Studies have shown that writing with a pen and paper is better for concentration, creativity and productivity that using a computer to write with.
Also a change of how you write, moving from a computer to paper, can unlock ideas. I often type and then change to writing longhand. It works wonders to refresh those tired parts of my brain.
You could also print out what you have written on your computer and review it as a hard copy, writing down amendments in pen or pencil in the margins.
Any extra writing that you need to do to improve these sections, do it using a pen and paper and see how well you concentrate.
Alternatively, you could write your novel completely by hand.
34. Get someone to lock you in a room
If your writing really isn’t going well and you just can’t get down to it then get a friend or family member to lock you in a room until you have written 500 words.
Make sure this person likes you and isn’t intending on throwing away the key because that could be tricky.
Make sure they don’t lose the key and that they check on your every hour or so, but also ensure that your friend is disciplined enough not to let you out until you have completed the task.
This tip clearly is for extreme measures. If you go for this option try not to howl and bang on the door when you want to leave. Ask politely. You may have to show evidence of what you have written in order to get out.
35. Give yourself short-term deadlines
Deadlines are perfect for focusing the mind. Setting realistic deadlines for how many words to write each day has helped unlock writer’s block for many writers.
The establishment of ‘now’ deadlines is key. If you want to write a novel and you tell yourself you’ll finish it by next year, you may not even start it.
Long-term goals need short-term deadlines in order to achieve them. Create hourly, weekly, monthly deadlines.
36. Write a back story for a character
You may not know where your story is heading because you haven’t spent enough time with your characters. Who are they, where have they come from, what important events have helped shape them.
Sit down and write a backstory for some of your characters. This will take the pressure from writing for publication, but it will also thrown up important and surprising story ideas, which you’ll be keen to use.
37. Try some writing prompts
Fear, pressure and expectation can often lead to writer’s block – feeling that what ever you do, it won’t be good enough.
Remove the pressure but keep writing by using some of these prompts taken from Barbara Abercrombie’s book Kicking in the Wall.
Keep writing non-stop for 5 minutes and use these prompts:
- Write about the time your (or your characters) life unraveled.
- Write about the best advice you (or your character) ever got.
- Write about a family photograph. What doesn’t the picture show.
38. Talk to yourself
Talking to yourself is considered a sign of sanity rather than insanity. By doing so, you’ll focus on the problem and can come up with solutions.
But saying it out loud rather than running an internal monologue helps you to listen to what you are saying and can correct any negative thoughts.
Remember to speak respectfully to yourself. Talk yourself up, be motivational and urge yourself on.
It might seem odd to talk to yourself, but you’re you own best friend.
39. Don’t give yourself permission
You need to be aware of the thoughts you are having before you think you have writer’s block.
These thoughts give us permission to act out the negative behavior, but saying them out loud can highlight just how crazy they are. “I’m no good at this so I better stop writing.” “I’m just not feeling creative enough, so I’d better give up for the day.”
When you highlight these ‘permission-giving’ thoughts you are more able to challenge them and stop them taking control. You are the one giving yourself permission, no one else.
So if you aren’t feeling creative enough, remind yourself that writing is a job and only the best writers push through.
40. Focus on the positive
Art Markman, a professor of psychology at the University of Texas at Austin, author of Smart Change: Five Tools to Create Sustainable Habits in Yourself and Others argues that too many people trying to give up bad habits focus on the negative. For instance, I’m going to stop checking my emails in the evening and do more writing.
He says the brain’s habit-learning system doesn’t learn anything by ‘not-doing’.
In order to give up a bad habit, you need to create a good habit to replace it with. So you need to frame your goals in terms of what you are going to do.
So focus on what you want to do instead of being blocked. For instance, I’m going to write for an hour instead of beating myself up about not writing. Or I’m going to get up an hour earlier and write before I leave for work.
41. Make a plan
Repeat studies has shown that making a plan by writing down what you want to achieve is significantly more likely to help you stick to your goals than if you don’t write down a plan of action.
A study in the British Journal of Health Psychology found that when people wrote a plan specifying when and where they would undertake a new activity, say exercise, they found that 91% of participants in the study carried through their intention.
Cementing your intention with clear actions, times and location is crucial to success, otherwise your goal to beat writer’s will remain vague.
So try this little exercise.
Write down the following sentence:
During the next week, I will write 500 words a day before I read any emails.
You can change the sentence to suit your goal. So if want to write in the evening for three hours for a week , write that. Or if you want to set weekend goals, such as going to bed early on Friday so you can get up early on Saturday and write for four hours before you see fiends, write that.
The more clear and specific about what to want to achieve, the more easily you’ll achieve it.
42. Understand your triggers
If you’re not spending enough time writing or can’t get down to it, it can help significantly to understand the triggers that led to the block in the first place.
Making yourself aware of this behavior can help you to write. It may show you the specific reason why you’re finding writing difficult.
You can help locate your trigger by thinking about triggers in relation to:
Location – (home)
Time – (after work)
Emotional State – (bored)
Other People – (no one)
An immediately preceding Action (coming home from work)
Once you have identified a trigger you can intervene.
If you get distracted by the Internet, then set up an Internet blocker or write in a different room using pen and paper. Some writers have a laptop on which they have permanently disabled the Internet connection and WIFI.
If you’re too tired to write, then think about going to bed earlier or writing at a time of day when you are more awake. Maybe you are too tired because you are going out too much or drinking alcohol on too many nights of the week. Try to cut down and it should help.
If the first thing you do when you get writer’s block is to switch on the TV, then hide the remote in a closet in a different room or get your partner or flatmate to take it with them to work.
43. Set a writing goal
Repeat studies have shown the writing down what you want to achieve is likely to help you focus your mind and significantly help you to achieve your goal.
As you may know already, these goals have to be specific, with a time and location and what you want to achieve.
So start by writing down that you want to write for two hours (amend according to your own goals) every day between 7am and 9am in your kitchen without a single loss in concentration.
You could then write a mini-goal before each days writing, saying what you are going to write about and how many words.
44. Belief is half the answer
Repeat studies have shown that people who believe in themselves have more success overcoming procrastinating and entrenched bad habits than those who don’t believe they can change.
Negative thinking is a one-way route to failure.
Believing you can write successfully gives you the confidence to act.
You just have to look around you and see what belief has achieved. So now that you have the belief, what are you waiting for?
Make a writer’s block a little more painful and you might never stop writing again.
It works the other way too: Reward yourself for writing as well.
46. Eavesdrop a conversation
Problems with characterisation can caused writer’s block – how they talk or their voice can be overcome by becoming a better listener.
Don’t always spend your time reading on public transport or daydream, try to tune into other people’s conversations.
You can try this at a social event, out shopping, or even at one of your Meet Up social events.
47. Interview people
If you are writing a crime or mystery novel, see if you can spend time with a coroner or police department.
If you are setting it in a school, interview some teachers.
You can also try to get a commission with a writing journal about this very issue which might open some more doors for you.
48. Read interviews with writers
Writers who have made it will often give interviews saying how they did it.
JK Rowling famously wrote in cafes on benefits as she couldn’t afford to work any where else. Some like Beryl Bainbridge believes only in writing about your childhood.
The ideas and advice maybe be contradictory, maybe you don’t agree with them all, or maybe they’ll give you inspiration to start again. But, at the very least, they will get you thinking, even disagreeing is thinking critically, and thinking is only a short step away from writing.
49. Read the writing rules of the greats
Many successful writers have also been inspired to write down the rules of writing.
Annie Proulx advises to take your writing slowly and to take care and in order to do this she advises you to write by hand.
Other successful writer have written practical and actionable guides. One of these I have personally taken a lot from and refer to often is Brian Dean’s 16 copywriting tips. It actually helped me to write this guide to beating writer’s block! If I get stuck, this is where I go first.
Pearls of wisdom, no doubt, but also reading from the bibles of the successful has helped writers get back on track.
To find many of the great writers advice go out The Writer’s Toolbox.
Imagining that you are a really cool writer, someone successful and hip, could just be the ticket to get you writing again.
This will fill you with a sense of how great you are. Feeling utterly confident and thinking you are God’s gift to the written word might be all your ego needs to give it a kickstart.
51. Change location
Some writers find moving location help – from the office to the kitchen or library or café, or in warmer weather outside such as a park or the garden.
The move can help release the block that maybe associated with a specific location or the move itself can distract you from the problem and the intervening time can help find a solution.
And the new location itself, the change, can provide a change in your thinking, which can boost your creativity.
Rather than using just one writing tool, such as your laptop, change between them through the week. Print out your writing, and then type the rest, or write with a pen or fountain pen on high quality paper.
The difference in texture of the writing surface – the difference in sounds between that which a pen makes on paper to a typewriter and a keyboard on a computer can trigger new thoughts and associations.
The creative brain is a complex creative and it is feeds of novelty and difference.
53. Hire a cottage or cabin
You’ll be inspired by the change of scene, pretentions of a writing lifestyle, the rich and clean fresh air and the long periods of time to spend not just writing but dreaming, imagining and thinking about your writing.
Many famous writers have a writing cottage.
54. Create you own low-cost writing retreat
Of course, hiring a cottage or a cabin costs money. But there are plenty of ideas of creating your own low-cost personal writing retreat.
You could hold your writer’s retreat at a friend’s house, as writing coach, Lisa Tener suggests. Turn you home into a sanctuary by disconnecting from the Internet and cutting out all distractions, write in the park, or take a day off from work.
I’ve mentioned already the importance of disconnecting from the Internet to avoid distractions.
Some writers have found it useful to follow a digital detox plan to get the Internet, smartphones and social media completely out of their system before they can write with full concentration.
The Internet is pervasive and influences every aspect of our lives. Don’t under estimate its power to distract.
56. Treat yourself
Once you have finished writing for the day make sure you have something to look forward to doing – if that is what helps you to achieve your goals. We are all different.
For some it will be the reward itself of having done another days writing, for others it will be a treat whether that’s a chocolate bar, 30 minutes to read a book before you do more work, an episode of a box set, or just to have a coffee and stair out of the window doing nothing.
57. Don’t wash until you’ve written
But for some getting up and getting straight down to work, tapping into the earning morning creative muse is essential for success, but also the thought that you have to stay dirty until you have done your day’s writing is enough for many people to just get it done.
The thought of having a refreshing shower and being clean is a huge motivating thought.
58. Take a long shower
So I’ve mentioned that cold showers can kick start your neuro-circuits, but what about something more pleasurable:
A long warm, luxurious shower.
When you have your shower you are likely to have creative ideas for the next day’s writing, so remember to keep a notepad in the bathroom, which you can use once you’re dry!
Alice Flaherty, one of the most renowned neuroscientists researching creativity, explains that the release of dopamine improves creativity.
Typical triggers for events that make us feel great and relaxed and therefore give us an increased dopamine flow are taking a warm shower, exercising, and driving home. The chances of having great ideas after a warm shower then are high.
59. Have a bath
Purely out of fairness to all bath lovers around the world, taking a bath is just as effective as taking a shower.
Arguable a bath might be better!
In fact, if you prefer baths or think of them as relaxing luxuries in your life then taking one when you are stuck in a rut with your writing should release plenty of dopamine to get your out of your fix.
When I’ve been stressed with work taking a bath on a cold night dose the trick.
60. Use stimulants
Legal stimulants, that is.
If you are feeling tired, grab a coffee or tea.
Treat yourself to some expensive coffee you keep just for these occasions.
The joy of supping a tasty beverage while you’re working can help release the creative juices.
If doesn’t have to be caffeine. Try herbal drinks, freshly squeezed orange juice, or a smoothie. An energy bar can do the trick too.
61. Take regular breaks
You may have heard this one when revising for exams – if you can remember that far back.
But the theory is relevant to writing. Try not to break mid-sentence or when you are in full flow, but your mind will naturally need a little break after about 40 minutes to an hour.
The rule is don’t start reading something, check emails or social media updates because your 5 minute break will quickly turn into 30 minutes.
Believe me, I’ve timed it. Time goes very quickly when you are distracted.
Use the break to grab some fresh air or one of those stimulating drinks.
62. Drink water
There is overwhelming evidence that drinking water and thus being hydrated improves concentration, brain function and creativity.
Some research suggests it makes your brain work 15% more quickly.
If you’re dehydrated, your brain will be working on how to get water and not on how to be a brilliant writer.
Sip it slowly throughout the day rather than taking your water down all in one go.
Eating a nutritionally balanced diet improves your concentration and creativity.
Eating vegetables, fruit and whole grains keeps your brain in tip top conditions. But consume sugary foods and snacks and you’ll have high and lows and poor concentrations which could lead to writer’s block.
If you are serious about writing then at least eat healthily in the four hours before you sit down to write.
Some of the best brain foods include:
- Oily fish.
- Cruciferous vegetables.
- Snack on nuts and seeds.
64. Overwhelm your brain
Another very well researched technique is to overwhelm your brain. Have you ever started to work on a task, which you quickly realised was insanely hard and you will most likely fail solving it? Keep working on it says psychologist Robert Epstein.
So write a piece longer then you think you can write.
Your brain will be put in a shock situation and naturally engage more of your creative area then it normally would. And although you might not succeed at the task at first, you will find that other tasks will come a lot easier through your increased brain activity.
65. Re-read your past work
Go back to sections of your novel or blogs or articles that have worked very well and that you were happy with. Re-read these – this will remind you what a great writer you are.
It will also act as a stimulus for other ideas. It will not only put you in the same mood as when you achieved this creative brilliance but it will spark other similarly creative ideas.
66. Edit, don’t write
Sitting in front of a blank sheet of paper can be daunting, but a little technique that som writers use is to older sections using a pen or pencil, jotting down ideas and re-writes in the margins or on a new piece of paper.
What are you doing here? You’re writing – editing is a form of writing, but you are removing the pressure of creating something new. The thing is, you are creating and at a very high level.
Your editing of one section will lead to thoughts of other sections of what you are writing where you can jot down ideas and edit (or write) more about these section too.
Author Hari Kunzru swears by stationery to get his creative muse working. Sure, it’s a distraction technique, but distraction allows your unconscious mind to work beautifully.
Also buying stationery is the sort of passive activity that is both undemanding enough but also linked to your ultimate aim of writing that will signal to the brain to create, and give it space enough to do so.
And the stationery itself is useful. Kunzru buys post-it notes, notice boards and pens and paper and maps out his novel, sticking ideas over the wall like Carrie from Homeland.
It works, clearly. They’re both highly motivated and successful at what they do.
68. Stop thinking you’re a genius
Elizabeth Gilbert, the author of Love, Eat, Pray, delivered a powerful and insightful talk about our elusive genius. We are all geniuses but we need to combine hard work as well as a sense of creativity.
Worrying that you’re an undiscovered genius may mean that you’re block is caused by not being prepared to work hard enough to unlock your genius. Feel the pain. Being a genius takes a lot of hard work and discipline.
69. Go genre hopping
If you are writing fiction, try to write in a different voice or in a different genre or marry two genres together or even three. A sci-fi romantic comedy, a sci-fi whodunit, a chic-lit Western.
Breaking rules and being creative with fictional boundaries can offer you solutions to some of the most intractable of creative writing problems.
Get inspiration from real life events for your fictional and non-fictional prose. You could get inspiration for a new character, a plot twist, an idea for a piece of journalism or a blog post.
If you’re writing fiction, imagine what a character from the news would add to your story. How their decisions would influence the story and develop the plot.
71. Burn a block of wood
Writer Ted Scheinman said that best present he got from another writing friend was a block of balsa wood imprinted with the woods: Writers’ Use Only.
It was to be burnt in the event of Ted getting writers block.
The idea of physically burning the block might work on the unconscious mind to unlock it.
Alternatively the thought of burning a present was such a terrible idea that he felt completed never to give in to writer’s block ever again.
72. Write out another writer’s words
A technique used by many writers is to transcribe the words of an author they admire. Hunter S Thompson wrote out Fitzgerald. Other writers transcribe poetry.
It allows you to concentrate on the actual words, the construction of sentences and the rhythm of successful writing.
73. Why are you writing
Is it because you what to become rich? Is it because you have something to say? Is it because you just read a novel you liked and you’ve thrown yourself straight into it without thinking?
From writing a blog post to a 500 page novel requires that you think at least about your motivations.
74. Start in the middle
Many writer’s don’t start at the beginning, they start where they are inspired to start writing. In the middle, at the end, or mid-sentence.
Don’t get wrapped up in writing the perfect opening sentence or paragraph.
Remember that by page five most readers will have forgotten what it is anyway and will be more interested in the rest of the book so why not start there and come back to the beginning.
Writing is about your senses.
You need all of your senses working to be a great writer. So why not unlock one of your senses that you might not be using.
Smell some flowers, some roasted coffee or a blue cheese or off milk. Then write about the sensation.
One of the reasons you may be blocked is that all you are doing is thinking about your writing and not meeting people. But writing is essentially about other people, even if it is about things that people interact with.
Take up Lindy Hop or join a book club – meet other people for an activity. Take your mind off your writing, but unconsciously you’ll be noting conversations, different characters, and maybe a location or event that you can write about.
77. Look up something you don’t know
How did televisions work before flat screens?
How does electricity work?
Who first made a pencil?
Was Shakespeare really a wool trader?
Inspire your mind to take a journey into an area of knowledge of which you know little.
The new connections and stimulation has worked wonders for writer’s looking for new ideas.
78. Imagine your character in another novel
Imagine one of your characters turned up in the middle of one of your favourite books. What would happen?
How would the story develop?
Write it down.
Or what if a famous character turned up in your book?
Imagine a compelling character, such as Heathcliff or Inspector Clouseau, interacting with your characters.
79. Think about the mundane
Our lives are mundane but the mundane – how we need to eat, earn a living, travel to work, wait at traffic lights, are the stuff of legend.
Make the mundane magical.
80. What’s going on elsewhere
Think about what else is happening in your story when the central action is taking place.
The stories on the sidelines, a woman who passed by the central character, the bus driver, the man in the sweet shop closing up for the night, the customer service representative on the end of the line.
Who are these people and how can they get involved in the story.
It maybe the people on the periphery are shouting for a starring role.
81. Don’t obsess about perfect grammar
Do we always speak with perfect grammar?
Some writer’s get stressed that they aren’t writing well enough and sometimes obsess about grammatical rules.
If every book was written with standard grammar the world of writing would be a boring and full place.
82. Do your characters always mean what they say
If you’re writing fiction, imagine a character not being truthful and possibly always lying. Imagine the Talented Mr Ripley and how he held his web of lies together. He makes one of literatures most compelling murderers.
Are your characters too one dimensional? Give them issues, demons, an internal problem that will undermine them or drive their motivations.
Another perspective on your characters may be all you need to start writing again.
83. Add a real historical background to your story
While some of the most compelling stories are those about ordinary people, those that reach a higher level are those about ordinary people in the middle of historical events.
Imagine your characters or your story set in a time of great historical upheaval. Or research a moment in history that hasn’t been written about that much.
84. Get some tools
Neil Patel, the king of online marketing and content writing, suggest ten tools to crush writer’s block.
He revealed the secrets of how pro-writers and bloggers come up with interesting ideas and high-quality content consistently.
He suggests using a combination of techniques and some online tools, which you can discover here.
85. Don’t fear rejection
Is the fear of rejection paralysing your writing?
If every writer stopped writing because of fear then we’d have no books. Rejection comes in a letter.
It’s a piece of paper and will only dent your pride.
But remember. A rejection is only a subjective view of your work.
Many writers have been rejected. JK Rowling was rejected by virtually everyone and many self-published writers go on to have a huge readership.
Rejection will happen. It’s how you deal with it that matters. Giving something a try means you had the confidence do something when many others didn’t. That’s something to be proud of.
86. Failure is strength
Success always starts with failure, says Tim Hartford, the FT columnist and author of Adapt: Why success always starts with failure.
“Success comes through rapidly fixing our mistakes rather than getting things right first time.”
In a complex world, we must use an adaptive, experimental approach to succeed. Harford argues, “the more complex and elusive our problems are, the more effective trial and error becomes.”
For the writer this means you have to preserver and never give up. If you make a mistake, need to rewrite, then do so, and don’t dwell on the fact you made a mistake, but on the solution.
Allow yourself to daydream. Giving yourself permission and the time and space to allow your thoughts to wander aimlessly has been proven to help block fixed thinking in psycho-analysis.
The free association and dream-like quality of our thoughts turn daydreams into narrative treasure-chests. Dreams are gripping, absurd, highly original and creative.
Your unconscious mind is a gold mine of imaginative ideas and stories. Unlock it today.
Find a window and a comfy chair. Sit down, look out of the window and let your mind drift.
The prolific murder mystery writer Agatha Christie said the best time for planning her writing was while she was doing the dishes.
Repetitive but relaxing activities can help you access deeper states of consciousness, similar to daydreaming and some forms of hypnotherapy.
So empty the dishwasher of dirty plates and starts washing them by hand.
89. Get into the zone
Many sports men and women say their best performances come when they are in the zone. It means that they are concentrating fully and on nothing else other than what they are doing. Thinking and their actions are effortless – it’s like they aren’t even there.
It’s a similar state of mind to play. When you’re having fun as a child and playing you don’t notice the time go by.
Getting into the zone for writing is putting yourself in a place where nothing else matters. Your concentration is total and you feel good about what you are doing.
Focus and concentration come from limited distractions distractions, a good environment right and a plan of action and deadline.
Meditate before hand to clear your mind and focus on what you want to achieve.
It may take time to be able to get into the zone, but don’t give up. Eventually it will become habitual.
The power of habits is well known. We concentrate most of our time in trying to give up bad habits. What we should be doing is focusing our energy and attention on creating positive and beneficial habits.
If you have ever tried giving up a bad habit you know how hard they are to break. What if you created a habit for writing?
You would wave goodbye to writer’s block and hello to incredible productive writing habits.
There are 3 parts to every habit, according to Neil Patel:
- The cue – What triggers you to do the routine.
- The routine – What action(s) you perform.
- The reward – What the immediate benefit of the routine that makes you feel good is.
Always write after the same cue. It could be your alarm going off in the morning, after you’ve had a shower, or a cup of coffee, but always associate that cue with starting to write.
According to James Clear, the motivational expert, it can take a month to create a habit, so keep writing even if just for ten minutes every day.
And after you’ve done the writing, reward yourself. It could be the feeling that you get from writing, or you could treat yourself to say a flat white if you only allow yourself to have one a day (don’t have it if you don’t write).
91. Listen to a hypnotherapy audio
Sometimes it’s hard to break the negative cycle of feeling demotivated and enervated. But allowing a hypnotherapy expert to boost your confidence and motivation can help create long-term positive mind sets.
Research suggests that hypnotherapy can help with creativity:
One man who has provided support to many around the world is Glenn Harrold. Try his Energy and motivation hypnotherapy.
92. Rules of genre
It can help to write according to rules. It gives your creative focus and boundaries.
Going back and reading about the genres in which you want to write can offer ideas for how your characters should function and how your story should develop.
The historical novel society provides this useful take on the genre rules for writing historical fiction:
And the Writer’s Digest provides this useful guide on avoid cliché in horror writing.
93. Five minute exercise
Another exercise that can get your brain moving again is a written version of verbal vomit.
Simply write down every single thing that comes to mind for five minutes straight.
One idea doesn’t have to relate to the next, nor does what you write have to make any kind of sense to anyone.
This exercise is simply aimed at getting your brain moving again, energizing it, and putting it back in the swing of idea generation.
95. Join Wattpad
Join Wattpad the world’s largest online writing community with more 40 million users.
You’ll have a captive audience for your work. And you’ll be encouraged to write in order to post chapters of your novel at least one a week. You’ll have readers of your work immediately.
If having an audience is a key to your block, then joining Wattpad may just help break it.
Check out this insightful infographic on how to be successful on Wattpad as a writer.
96. What I really mean is…
If you’re unsure what you are writing about or where you are going, there is a straight forward and simple technique that can get you back on track.
It’s called the What I really mean is – or WIRMI technique for short.
So write ‘What I really mean is’… then finish the sentence.
This should get you to the heart of what you are trying to say.
Become so bored that your only solution to ward of imminent insanity is to write.
Kevin Duncan at BeABetterBlogger.com relates a story about the motivating force of boredom he himself heard from copy blogger Robert Bruce. It’s so interesting I’m going to relate it in full.
Kevin’s says that writer Eugene Schwartz had a fascinating way of beating writer’s block.
He’d set a timer to 33 minutes and 33 seconds. During this time, he could drink his morning coffee, stare out to space and do absolutely nothing or he could write.
He had some strict rules. He couldn’t get out of his office chair or do anything else. It was drink coffee, do nothing, or write.
Once the time was up, he could do whatever he wanted for about 10 minutes, and then he’d start all over again.
The waiting around doing nothing was clearly so painful that writing became a much sough-after reprieve from the boredom.
Writing became the only way to block the boredom.
98. Ask questions
Try the ‘5 W’ – Who, What, Why, When, Where.
Writers have found asking Why and What If especially helpful.
Why is your character doing this, and What would happen if they did this.
It gets you thinking about life choices they’d make if they were real people.
99. Set yourself a time limit
100. Free writing
Don’t let the block take control and own your time.
You’re are big enough to beat it, right?
And one way of doing this is just to write about anything that comes to mind. It doesn’t have to be about your blog or your novel or play.
Write about going to the shops, or what you had for dinner last night.
The process of writing word after word will begin to unlock your creativity again.
I tried this. I started writing a dairy. Then it turned into funny story about someone I’d met, then I turned that person into a character and away I went.
This technique can throw up new ideas in a similar way to word association.
Remember that the privilege of being able to sit down and write is a magical experience.
No one is standing over you telling you that you aren’t allowed to write. You have the freedom of expression that not every one has.
Don’t regret the time you have.
As Stephen King said:
Writing isn’t about making money, getting famous, getting dates, getting laid or making friends. Writing is magic, as much as the water of life as any other creative art. The water is free. So drink.
I’ve also put the top 25 strategies below in an infographic (I tried to pull all 101 in the infographic, but they just wouldn’t fit!):
Click on the image below to see a larger view:
Stephen Bennett is a researcher and writer at Stop Procrastinating.
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