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9 Ways to Beat Writer’s Block [Guest Post]

We have a special guest post today from one of our Indie Ninjas, Wren Deloro. She’s participating in NaNoWriMo this year (as is Shannon!). If you’re taking the 50,000 word, 30 day challenge let us know on Facebook!

Whether you are in the midst of a project or planning to take on NaNoWriMo, writer’s block is a dreaded possibility for any author.

Don’t let normal snags and stops hold back the completion of your project. 

Try a few of the following techniques, and get back on track.

1. Take a Break

photo by spring dewDo something completely unrelated.

This break could be a treat for all your hard work, or some good ol’ mundane activity. Think about it: how many ah ha moments have come to you while driving, washing the dishes, or in the shower?

Earn bonus points by completing household chores you have to do anyway. Make frozen food for your next intense write in.

Then, when you are done, sit your butt back in the chair!

2. Use other tools

Rather than a pen, use a paintbrush, crayon, finger paint, colored pencils, markers, highlighters, colored paper, or spray paint.

Create an artifact that relates to your current work. Whether you hang your artwork in your office, or throw it out, the process will produce new ideas.

As you create, ruminate on your stuck spot. Express those feelings in a different style.

What should your WIP look and feel like in the end?

photo by boudewijn berends3. Treat your inner child

Did you notice finger paints listed above? Yes, because your inner child aka your creative genius, likes to play. LET IT!

For example, remember those stickers in elementary school? You rock! 100% Awesome! I have always been nuts about stickers.

Every time I complete my daily writing or editing goal, I earn a sticker. I add the sticker to my goal accountability sheet. After I am rewarded, I often go on to double my daily goal.

Reflect on the things you loved as a child. The stars, Bambi, buttons, birds, butterflies, stamps, trucks? How can you encorporate these things into your work environment or creative process?

Consider an outing to the circus, video arcade or other places to amuse your inner kid.

4. Let yourself break the rules

If things are not working and you have been sticking to a rigid process, it is time to try other things.

Write in new locations, buy a special coffee, do it at different times of day, and just generally break the rules.

It may be time to bounce on the bed again.

5. Write around the topic

Try writing about your story in a letter, either addressed to yourself or to a friend.

You could even imagine you are writing from a post-publication date or many published books from now. Visualize what that future looks like–your book sure looks good on your shelf, doesn’t it?

Make lists, charts, diagrams and mind maps. 

Compile information for your characters and settings.

photo by joe schlabotnik6. Interview your character

Form a list of questions that stand unanswered.

Sit down and invite a character to join you in an imaginary interview. You can write it, or record yourself acting out the discussion.

Just don’t forget that untrustworthy characters may spin the truth in their favor…

7. Work with muses

If you had to give a face to the engine of your creative process, what would it be? Maybe an animal, a person, a robot. Use your imagination!

My definition of a muse is a character that represents a person’s creativity and essence. Once you have an idea for a muse collect related images from magazine or on Pinterest. My muses all give me a tingly feeling in my stomach.

Use some of the previous techniques such as creating visual art, calling an interview, or writing a letter to touch base with your muse for answers.

If anyone knows how to break your block, your muse does!

8. Put it on the fridge

Find a memento of praise, accomplishment, or inspiration and put it on your fridge. 

Maybe it’s one page from your WIP that you absolutely love or a good review.

Really, you could pepper your entire house with your great writing, goals, affirmations, or pictures. Each glance will inspire you further.

Don’t forget to stick something in your teeth brushing area!

9. Talk to someone inspirational

It’s time to pull out your phone.  Who is the wisest, most inspiring, supportive person you have contact with?

Start a real conversation about everything going on in your life—your goals, where you are at, whats troubling you. In the modern age, you may even be able to reach a favorite author. If you are really stuck, consider hiring a consultant. 

What’s your cure-all for writer’s block?

In a lot of ways, writer’s block is like the hiccups — we all get it from time to time and we all have our little home remedies for curing them. How do you break writer’s block? What have your experiences with writer’s block been?

Wren Doloro blogs from her edge on books, writing, and life. She hosts book reviews and guest posts. In addition to writing NaNoWriMo this November, Wren is also revising a manuscript entitled Line of Isis. ‘Line’ follows magical mermaids, determined scientists, and a man forced to choose a side. Follow her on Twitter, Pinterest or Facebook!

Wren is offering free Beta subscriptions to Muse Cauldron, her Creative Consultancy program. Readers can click here for more information.

  • Great post, Wren! Some wonderful pieces of advice here.

    Personally, I beat writer’s block by simply not allowing writer’s block to happen. I know it’s easier said than done, but I just basically write. It might be a comment, a piece of short prose, a blog post–whatever! I find writing through the boundary of the block is the best form of help, for sure.

    As for NaNoWriMo – I am making my debut this year! Although, I’m going about it slightly differently and writing a shorter piece of non-fiction. Exciting!


    • I think there’s a lot of be said about preventing writer’s block in the first place, too, Ryan. Having multiple writing avenues is a great idea — then, if you can get stuck on one thing, you can work on something else.
      On a side note, can’t wait to see what you come up with for NaNo! :-)

    • Ryan thank you for the compliment. You are a lucky guy, rock on with the passion and discipline. 😀

  • Here are a couple of techniques. Don’t ask me why they work though:

    Technique #1: Take a pad and pen and start writing about your life. Write about things that happened when you were a child—or something that happened recently. Just write. Things you know already. That might lead to a memory you can turn into something.

    Technique #2: Stay up really, really late. Get so exhausted you can’t think straight. Find a really hard problem to solve—algebra is always good. Or time travel. Sit in bed mentally focused on the problem—and make sure you have a pad and pen next to you. The harder you try to solve the problem, the more your mind will start to wander. You might be surprised where it leads you.

    • HA! Those are great tips, Steven. I think I’ll personally try #2…then, at least if I can’t get over my writer’s block, I can figure out time travel!

    • I especially like your staying up really late one :)

      Starting with a memory is a great technique whether you are writing a memoir or hoping to build off of your experiences.

  • B Y Rogers

    I like the interview your character idea. This could help in just developing, discovering the character. Thanks.

  • Liz Long

    I’m surprised by how often putting pen to paper will do the trick for me. Sometimes I need to step away from the screens (as I’m in front of one all day at work, too) and really focus, even if it’s in broad overviews – sometimes it’s with questions I have about the plot or maybe it’s just character development. I may try to write out their personalities and backgrounds and next thing you know, I’ve added more depth to them and the story. Something about my hand catching up with my brain, I suppose; once I get started, it’s hard to stop!