Writer's Block? Tips to Get Those Words Out

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What do you do when the words you want to write simply don’t come? You have your ideas (somewhat), your tools (pens, paper, laptop ect.), and the time, but the words remain lost in the space between brilliant creativity and what to eat for dinner. 

This is known as writer’s block, and is agonizing for both hobbyists and professionals. A writer with no words can feel as if their life no longer has purpose. A depressing outcome awaits them if too much time passes without change. Time can especially be of the essence if a deadline looms or an anxious fan base is clamoring for another release. Spending hours staring at a blank screen just won’t cut it.

So what should you do when you just can’t seem to get your words out? My answer aligns with the popular advice of simply walking away—but with a twist. Walk away with intentional purpose. 

Taking a break doesn’t do anything if you return with the same approach and mindset. You must do something different if you want things to change. Use your time away to find the real productivity issue.

Are you stressed?

It’s possible that you can’t get your words out because your mind is on with something else. Maybe your writing is on your mind, but also a million other things. That will definitely slow down your flow. Try a few distressing exercises, even if you don’t actually feel stress. Going for a walk may you do some good, or maybe scheduling a few workout classes will get you going. You can further decompress by journaling, hanging out with friends, or sharing your thoughts with a trusted love one.   

Has your process become mundane?

Some people thrive with routine. It’s the only way they can stay on track and meet their word count goals. Others, however, need spontaneity. It may help to switch up your routine. If you normally write in your home office, try a café or the library. If that doesn’t sound appeasing, give writing outside a try, or even check into a hotel for the weekend just to change the scenery. You can even try writing at a different time of day. Are you an early writer? Try writing after lunch. Are you a night owl? Pick things up first thing in the morning. One small change can get you writing again. 

Are You Afraid?  

Writing can be scary for a number of reasons. It can remind you of painful parts of your past that you are not emotionally ready to deal with yet. Writing also leaves you vulnerable to judgment. Maybe your book isn’t as good as you initially thought it was, and now you’re realizing that if you finish it others will know it isn’t good either. Maybe the harsh Amazon review you left on someone else’s book a few months back will be repaid tenfold. Maybe you’re not as smart as you’ve pretended you were all this time, and now everyone is going to know. Deep down, you do not want to face criticism. 

If this is the case, you have a few options. One is that you can express your thoughts to a trusted love one. Having someone is your corner who you can confide in is essential to success in every area of your life, including your writing. Therapy is another avenue. Some issues are deep-rooted, and once healing takes place you’ll likely see improvements in other areas of your life as well. (This approach requires a lot of time away from writing, so be upfront with those who are waiting for your work.) 

Another option you can take is to build your confidence by building your writing skills. You can take a class, study the genre you’re writing, work with a writing coach, or get advice from other authors.  

In order to win you have to make writing a priority. That means doing whatever you need to get your work done. You can even take the James Elroy approach and look at your bills. As he famously shared, “My cure for writer’s block? The necessity of earning a living.”