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Overcoming Writer’s Block


By Trista Herring Baughman

Many writers experience writer’s block, a feeling of being stuck and unable to move forward in their story. While some writers don’t believe it exists, others dread it and find it frustrating.

The positive aspect is that regardless of whether it is real or perceived, it is possible to develop skills to overcome it.

If you’re struggling with a slow start, a soggy middle, or a lack of cohesion in your WIP that’s causing you to feel frozen like a block of ice, don’t worry – we’ve got you covered with some helpful “block-busters” to get you back on track.

  1. Start with your workspace. Its intent is to help you be productive and get your writing done. You won’t be as productive if your space is cluttered or distracting (easy access to social media, in a noisy, busy area, etc.). Don’t research, market your book, or post to social media during writing time. Just write! 
  2. Create a writing routine and ritual. You may be able to write at the same time every day or at least every time you write–and if you can that’s great. Do that.  But even if you can’t, you can have a writing ritual of sorts. Maybe you grab a drink (water, tea, coffee, wine, etc.) or turn on some music. Put on some noise-canceling headphones. Put on your writing hat. (That’s a thing, right?) Do something consistently that will help your brain swap to writing mode every time you do it. 
  3. Think about what is causing your block. Is your problem with your plot, setting, or characters? Do you need a research session to figure out some details? Is there something specific like a fighting technique or a job that you need to know more about? Do you need to know your characters or setting better? If so, see below for more help. 
  4. Mind map the chapter or scene you’re stuck on. Read more about mind mapping here. You can even use mind mapping for your character sketches. 
  5. Create a plot line for your story. A numbered plot line can help you see if your story is moving in the right direction and help you figure out where you need to go next. An outline could work as well. 
  6. Talk it out. You can talk to yourself or a friend. Sometimes hearing things makes a world of difference. 
  7. Take a break and go for a walk (or do chores or take a shower). Sometimes this is all you need. A change of scenery may spark your imagination. 
  8. Try pre-writing. This could be a character sketch or a short list of questions that you keep handy to answer before the real writing begins (What motivates my character? What’s different about my character? What things does my character love or hate? If my character could go back in time, where would they go and what would they do? etc.), or maybe a backstory that no one needs to know except for you. The point is to start writing. 
  9. Take an online class. MasterClass, Coursera, Udemy, Write Storybooks for Children, and BBC Maestro are a few places to explore. Apply the things covered in the class to your work. These may be things you already know, but sometimes hearing it over again makes you realize what your story is missing.  
  10. Read. Read a book written in the same genre you’re writing, a writing blog like our own Writing from the Peak, or a book about writing. 
  11. Keep a commonplace book for your writing. Flipping through old ideas might help you make connections in your current project. 
  12. Talk to your writer’s block. Ha. I made that one up.  You never know, it could work. Remember that line from Jim Henson’s Labyrinth: “You have no power over me!” 

I’m certain there are additional options to consider, but the ones I’ve listed typically suffice for my needs. I hope they prove useful to you too. Best of luck!

Trista Herring Baughman is a blogger, the Managing Editor of Writing from the Peak (PPW’s blog,)  and the Managing Editor of Mississippi Folklore, a collaborative collection of Mississippi folklore and legends in a weekly blog. Her books, The Magic TelescopeHalloween Night and Other Poemsand Zombiesaurs (which she co-illustrated with her sons), can be found at Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Visit Trista on her website for more info.

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