Fighting Writer’s Block: the Endless Battle?

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I’ve heard writer’s block described or defined in a variety of ways, as well as methods of “getting over” it, so I doubt I’ll be adding much here that is new. But I’ve never been one to blindly follow advice,[1] sometimes (often) to my detriment. And the same practice applies to my writing processes.

I love to read advice, but I probably only follow it 25% of the time.[2] My preferred method is to flail blindly into the unknown, expecting to make a lot of mistakes through the learning process, but gaining an understanding of the process, and not just the result. All that to say… here are a few things I do when I’m struggling with writer’s block:

  1. Walk away. Sometimes all the detritus of daily life clogs my brain and I need go be an adult for a while before coming back to my desk to “reset” my creative processes.[3] Assuming
  2. Move to another part of the story. I am not a linear writer, despite attempts to be more “orderly,”[4] so picking up somewhere else can be helpful to recalibrate on the who and why of earlier (or later) scenes. You may even pick something up in writing another scene that helps an earlier transition, or even brings to light a detail you didn’t realize was significant in an earlier chapter.
  3. Peruse pictures. I generally look for several pictures of settings and characters online when I have a concrete idea of them, and dump them into my writing drafts folder, to have some references for the feel of the world and the people. Often a picture will spark a new thought or recall an old one that I’d forgotten that will get me enthusiastic again about why Hero A is heading to Country B under cover of night.
  4. Write a one-shot for fun,[5] either from a side character’s perspective, or even the villain’s.[6] This helps to broaden my own understanding of the world and to provide a fresh perspective on the events of the story. You could even write from an object’s point of view, like a locket that your Heroine never takes off, or a Hero’s beloved baseball hat that’s been along for every outdoor adventure.
  5. Brainstorm with an (interested) friend. This one’s a new one for me, as I didn’t have a writing community growing up, and no one was going to listen to my disjointed story ideas. However, there are tons of writers of every genre on-line today, and they are generally very kind and welcoming to new-comers, provided you are kind in turn. Find someone(s) to bounce ideas off of, and let them bounce theirs off you.

Obviously there are many, many more ways to combat writer’s block, but I hope some of these might help you when next you’re glaring at your computer or notebook. So tell me, what do you do when you’re stumped or stuck? Do you even suffer from the dreaded writer’s block? Do you think it’s all just an excuse for laziness? Or is it a genetic disorder? Let me know below!

Katie, signing off


[1] Even when it really would be best to listen to the experts, for example: baking.

[2] So you are by no means expected to follow my advice, either!

[3] I’m assuming here you also have adult responsibilities. 😉

[4] I hope this will encourage other writers who don’t start at Chapter 1; my best stories generally start somewhere in the middle, faff about at the end, and then finally get around to mentioning where they begin.

[5] And potential extras for when you’re a famous writer and your fans are clamoring for more.

[6] That’s pretty much what Marissa Meyer did, right?

Photo credit: Dan Kitwood and Mark Bridger.

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