How to Get Over Writer’s Block
Whether you are a new or seasoned writer, odds are you have come to a point in your writing journey where the magic seems to just run out.
For example, have you ever faced a creative block, preventing you from seeing the development of a story, or even being able to start it? Or did your ideas seem to have disappeared or any new ones rendered creatively useless?
This type of frustration and lack of creative ability isn’t uncommon.
This is called writer’s block, and almost every writer — even the great ones — experiences it at one point or another.
What is Writer’s Block?
Writer’s block is the condition of being unable to think of what to write or how to proceed with writing.
The condition feels like a wall has been erected between the author and their ideas. This does not deem the writer incapable of writing; it just forces him to take a step back from his work to reevaluate.
Writer’s block does not mean that the author isn’t motivated to start/complete their work, but its power can get in the way of the author’s goals if not addressed.
Say you have always dreamed of writing a book and becoming a published author. However, you keep pushing it back and using excuses to justify why you have not started yet. This inability to act is a physical manifestation of writer’s block.
Writer’s block can strike at any time. It can prevent you from starting your book, or even block you while you are almost finished writing it.
To help you defeat writer’s block and start or finish your work, here are a few ways on how to get over writer’s block wherever you run into it in your writing journey.
How to Get Over Writer’s Block in 8 Steps
If you are currently experiencing writer’s block or looking for preventative writer’s block help, follow these steps to boost your motivation and get your creative juices flowing again.
Step #1: Create or Re-Work an Outline and Use a Plan
Whether you are looking for a quick writer’s block cure or how to get over writer’s block that’s been lingering for a while, the best thing you can do is start with a plan.
When writing a book, this plan usually starts with an outline. This outline will help provide structure and make the task of writing seem much less grueling. When most of your thoughts are already on paper, you can focus on developing the content around them.
If you’ve already created your outline, consider rereading it and reworking it.
You may have written your outline a while back and have a different perspective now.
Taking off the blinders and taking a few steps back from your project allows you to broaden your focus and take a better look at the big picture. This can help you develop new ideas for your work.
Step #2: Read Similar Works to What You’re Writing
If you are experiencing a loss for words, a fantastic place to look for inspiration is by reading someone else’s (even if you know it was written by a ghostwriter for books).
Pick your favorite author, or find one that is writing about the topic you’re writing about and read their work. This will give you a way out of the tunnel vision you have been experiencing and help you get past your writer’s block.
Reading similar works allows you to brainstorm ideas on how to start, where you can take your piece, or even what word you want to use for a particular sentence.
Think of it as a loose roadmap to help you structure your work and see where it can go. Even if the writing is not the best, you can use it as a tool to make yours better.
Step #3: Exercise
Writer’s block may make you feel uninspired and underwhelmed.
While you are probably sitting by your computer waiting for a spark of creative genius, it’s important to take a step away from the screen and move your body.
Yes, actually move your whole body…not just your fingertips!
Research shows that exercise can actually improve your creativity and mood.
In fact, regular exercise seems to be associated with improved divergent and convergent thinking, which are considered the two components of creative thinking; the former involves thinking of multiple solutions for one problem, while the latter involves thinking of one solution for a problem.
If you’re looking for help to get over writer’s block, consider going on a walk or heading out to your favorite workout class. You will return to your work with more creative energy flowing.
Step #4: Change Your Environment
Take a good look around your writing space.
Is the area full of distractions? Or is it too bland? Does it feel like a space that’s conducive to producing good work?
If not, it may be time to change it up.
Try writing in a different space to allow your creative thoughts to flow. If you feel inspired in nature, set up a chair outside and let the breeze guide your ideas.
Step #5: Talk to a Loved One
Sometimes, we get really into our heads when we write. We start to overthink and overanalyze, which leads to being critical of ourselves and our work.
In those instances, it can be helpful to talk to someone that isn’t yourself.
Chat with a trusted friend about your ideas and create an open dialogue for honest feedback and opinions.
This will likely help you get out of your own head. It may even help you develop a great, new idea.
Step #6: Step Away for a Period of Time
When writing comes easy, it feels like you’re in the zone and nothing can break your focus. You attempt to get back into the zone if you’re feeling a block, but it’s almost impossible.
When this happens, it’s best to just take a step back and focus on something else for a while.
“If you get stuck, get away from your desk. Take a walk, take a bath, go to sleep, make a pie, draw, listen to music, meditate, exercise; whatever you do, don’t just stick there scowling at the problem.” -Hilary Mantel
Don’t be afraid to give yourself – and your brain – a break. Come back to your work once you feel refreshed and relaxed.
Step #7: Freewrite
As writers, there is a strong desire to produce quality work every time. It’s difficult to just let go of the need for perfection and just write. However, that may be just what you need to get rid of writer’s block.
Instead of focusing on output, just write whatever is on your mind. Whether it’s a random thought or testing new words in a sentence to try to improve and expand your vocabulary, jotting down anything can help you get past your writer’s block.
Your mind will start to get back into the groove and you’ll eventually get over the hump.
Step #8: Develop Goals and a Routine
Developing SMART goals can help you manage your expectations when it comes to your writing process, as they could ultimately help prevent burnout and writer’s block.
Here’s an example of developing a SMART goal to consider for writing your book:
Rather than creating a vague goal of just “writing a book,” your goal can start with, “I will finish writing the manuscript of my book by fall of next year by writing 5 pages a day starting today.”
Here’s how to determine a SMART Goal:
- S (Specific) = You have specified the deliverable (the manuscript).
- M (Measurable) = You have a set amount of pages that you have to write per day in order to finish by next fall.
- A (Achievable) = You enjoy writing and are very motivated to finish your book, so writing 5 pages a day is doable.
- R (Relevant) = Finishing the manuscript will get you much closer to eventually publishing the book to a bigger audience.
- T (Time-bound) = You are working towards the manuscript being completed by the fall of next year.
This SMART goal will keep you accountable and motivated, even if a writer’s block might threaten your path.
It’s also important to set goals that will help prevent writer’s blocks, like making sure to take a walk every day and promising to read a new book every month.
These goals will help you stay on track and prevent creative blocks.
Use the methods I discussed above to help you get past or even prevent writer’s block and achieve your writing goals! To learn even more about how to plan for and accomplish your writing goals, register for my free training “5 Steps to Planning & Publishing a Best-Selling Book.”
Having written over 80 books, I’ve experienced writer’s block before. My free training is a collection of knowledge I’ve accumulated in my career as a writer that helped me get to where I am today. This training will help you overcome your fears and focus your thoughts on finally writing the book you’ve always dreamed of!
About Brian Tracy — Brian is recognized as the top sales training and personal success authority in the world today. He has authored more than 60 books and has produced more than 500 audio and video learning programs on sales, management, business success and personal development, including worldwide bestseller The Psychology of Achievement. Brian's goal is to help you achieve your personal and business goals faster and easier than you ever imagined. You can follow him on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Linkedin and Youtube.