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How I Deal With Writer’s Block

Writer's Block notebook

Writer's Block notebook

You’ll find lots of posts and stories about writer’s block out there, all of them containing vastly different causes and solutions.

Because there isn’t one reason why people suddenly have trouble writing and in the same way, there isn’t a fix that works for everyone.

That’s why this post is titled “How I deal with writer’s block.”

9 out of 10 times when I have trouble writing, it’s because my brain is an asshole. Having been diagnosed with both Asperger’s Syndrome and ADD that shouldn’t come as a surprise to me, but somehow it’s still a source of wonder to me exactly how much my brain will try to ruin my life if I don’t keep it busy and makes sure it doesn’t have time to think.

I get stuck in my writing every time I have taken a break for whatever reason. Might just have been because I have been busy with other things for a while, but during that time I’ll suddenly have started overthinking everything and convincing myself that my writing is horrible, that it can’t be saved, and that I will never be able to finish whatever project I’m working on.

Logically, I know that’s not true. But the thing about this kind of anxiety is that it can’t be beaten back by logic.

Because my brain is an asshole.

But luckily, knowing what causes my writer’s block gives me what I need to find a solution. What I have found works for me is simply:


Of course, seeing as my heart will start beating quickly and I will have a minor panic attack when I even think about writing, that’s not as easy as it sounds. So the trick is to make the act of writing seem less scary, so I can actually make myself sit down and get started. I do this by setting extremely low goals for myself. This one has proven a winner every time: Instead of setting a goal of a certain amount of words I need to write per day, I tell myself that I need to write ONE word on a draft every day. Just one single word.

Even my asshole brain can’t make writing a single word seem scary. And that’s where I trick myself into writing, because if I think of one word to write, I will already have thought of the entire sentence. Then I write that sentence down and I will probably already have thought of the next one while I type. Before I know it, I’m writing away and my brain will realize that it’s not actually that scary and maybe I don’t completely suck at it.

So if you tend to fret yourself into an anxious mess just like me, maybe give this a try. It works wonders at various daily tasks as well.


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5 Ways to Avoid Writer’s Block

So often you hear writers complaining about being struck down by ‘Writer’s Block’, a fearsome disease that will kill off every creative thought you ever had. However, I think 95% of the cases people call writer’s block is simply a lack of motivation.

I see it in myself all the time: It’s not that I CAN’T write, it’s that I don’t FEEL like writing. It took me a while to realize the difference.

Since I don’t know a single writer who doesn’t struggle with this, I thought I would share some of the things that work for me when dealing with this pseudo-disease:

#1 – Sit Your Ass Down and Write

And before you protest: Yes, it IS that simple(most of the time, anyway).

If you’re not motivated to write, you’re not going to write unless you force yourself. Just sitting around, waiting for that itch to return, rarely helps anything. Besides, I find that even when the thought of writing makes me want to curl up in my bed and hide, I almost always regain some amount of motivation as soon as I have typed out that first painful sentence. My brain quickly realizes ‘Hey, this isn’t that hard!’.

#2 – Write by Hand

This is my nr. 1 life saver when I feel like I spend more time staring at a blank screen than actually writing.

Pick up a pen and a notebook, and abandon your keyboard for a while. You will quickly discover that your mind suddenly works way faster than you can write and you won’t have to stop constantly to consider what to write next, as you already thought of it long before the words hit the page. Also, because it’s harder to rewrite without a delete button, you won’t be tempted to go back and change a sentence 50 times instead of moving on. That’s what rewriting and editing is for, anyway!

Downside: Cramps!

#3 – Switch Locations

I do my best writing on the train, in the park while my dogs play, in waiting rooms, at parties where I don’t know anyone… But never at home. Why?

Because there’s distractions everywhere.

If there’s a thousand other things I would rather do than writing, I have to make sure I don’t have access to those things. If I sit by my laptop, I have the biggest distration of all times looming over me: The Internet. Reading forums about writing is sure to kill off any writing I might have done. Oh, the irony…

Add to that all the other things I suddenly decide to do when I’m at home with time to write: Walk the dogs, watch programs about sloths on TV, clean the owl’s cage, rearrange my bookshelves, stare at the cat… The list goes on. Funnily enough, I don’t feel like doing any of those things unless I have better things to do. *Cough* write *cough*

That’s why it’s much better to take my tablet(which I HATE using for internet surfing) and an attachable keyboard to a park or a cafe. Puts the mind in a less distracted state, since there’s really nothing better to do.

#4 – Set a Goal

This relates back to #1. If you tell yourself you have to write # words a day, it’s easier to sit down and get it over with.

Last time I used this, I set a very modest goal of 200 words per day, because it wouldn’t seem so daunting. It turned out that many days I wrote close to 2000 words instead, because ‘Well, I might as well keep going’.

#5 – Talk About It

Yes, yes, I know most writers are very solidary creatures, but if you aren’t the type who hides in your dungeon with 6 deadbolts on the door, this might be helpful.

Sometimes it’s good to get out of your own head for a while and share your writing with an outsider. When I’m stuck I often ask a friend for some advice on what I’m writing(or supposed to write) and though they rarely come up with anything useful, just being able to talk about it tends to shock my mind back into action.

Once I asked a couple of friends to brainstorm a twist with me in a Facebook chat. I don’t think they actually came up with a single idea, but sharing my own thoughts got the juices running and it ended up with me spewing ideas and my poor friends trying to write ‘Sure’, ‘What could work’ or  ‘I like the other idea better’ fast enough to keep up.

Do you have any tips to add? What works best for you when the muses abandon you? Share it with us in the comments!