How do writers deal with writer’s block?

Hemmingway quote on how he deals wih writer's block

I learned never to empty the well of my writing, but always to stop when there was still something there in the deep part of the well, and let it refill at night from the springs that fed it.” Ernest Hemmingway

I’ve found myself in a place new to me recently. Of course, that’s on many fronts, which is the root of the problem, but what I’m referring to here is writer’s block. It’s not that I don’t want to write nor is it about a dearth of topic ideas. The issue is, sharing what I’m really thinking isn’t smart.

Don’t misunderstand. I’m not suggesting your writing should be inauthentic or contrived. Neither should your marketing message. Some people are very comfortable letting it all hang out there for the internet to archive long after they’re dead. That’s not me. I recognize life brings moments some prefer not to share – particularly during challenging times.

Hemmingway quote on how he deals wih writer's blockThat said, I believe a lot of people struggle to put pen to paper not because they don’t have ideas (even though they may think this is the issue), can’t write (the internet mix proves that’s not a stopper for most), don’t have time (it’s a choice) or are afraid. Instead, I’ve concluded barriers usually aren’t about the exercise of writing. Maybe it’s stress, perhaps sadness or possibly situational where confidentiality, repercussions or work personalities preclude you from discussing life as it is at the moment. Having to sensor so much can lead to silence.

So, how do you break that writer’s block barrier?

Write about something you love. Whether that’s a family member, a friend, a pet, a hobby or a dream, you can easily connect that thing that brings a smile to your face to a relevant topic that ties back to your expertise.

  • Dogs can be funny reflections of how people might express themselves more fully.
  • Gardens are great metaphors for growth.
  • Family and friends offer lessons all can learn from – plus can provide humor and a lot of laughs, done right.
  • Dreams and hobbies can connect to things much deeper than the job.

People retain more when stories are involved. Start writing from your heart with something you’re passionate about. Once you begin, a natural path back to a business point will reveal.

Quick tips to save writing time and struggle

Collect short quotes. There are tons of free resources that provide inspiring or relevant quotes for any topic. Daily dribbles are my preference, but a Google search will give you tons of archives to choose from. My favorite daily feeds include A Word a Day (AWAD – not only do I enrich my vocabulary with this brief, daily message, but each one includes a brief quote at the end), Success newsletters (there are many – all offer a number of quotes related to the core topic of the e-mailing) and Brian Tracy’s quote of the day (few are from him). A good short quote can be the starting point for powerful blog post you may have never considered.

Get exercise. This may seem a silly idea when it comes to writing, it seems, but it’s amazing how quickly you can change your mindset and release creative brilliance when you encourage adrenalin flow.

Set tiny goals. Often people get paralyzed with overwhelm. If you’re finding yourself stuck staring at a computer screen or even a pen and paper with nothing flowing, stop expecting so much of yourself. If all you can do is 250 words, consider offering shorter blog posts or publication submissions while you work to get back into your groove.

Clean the clutter. While this seems unrelated, the space you work in or live in tells tons about where your mind is at. Simply accomplishing a goal that includes reducing the piles can be huge in summoning productivity and confidence for your writing goals.

Forget about key words, SEO and search juice for a while. Working off a list of terms someone else deemed important can get stale pretty quickly if you’re trying to access creative juice. Writing from your heart and producing something is better than getting stymied with rules so you do nothing.

What’s stopping you?

Have you considered what’s really causing your writer’s block? It’s probably not what you claim. If you spend  some time exploring the stressors, you’ll likely discover a way around them to effectively muse a new approach not only helps your writing flow again, but also enriches your mindset as you discover uplifting and cathartic expression. Think you can’t master this challenge? Share in the comments to get ideas for breakthrough.  Have you found a solution that works well for you? Please add your wisdom below to help others.

 

 

 

 

18 Responses to How do writers deal with writer’s block?
  1. Tat
    November 12, 2014 | 11:22 am

    Usually I find that the more I write, the more I have to say. When I take a break from writing, it’s hard to get back into it. It seems that if it’s taken me this long to write something, it needs to be truly epic and obviously, it can’t always be epic. So the solution for me is just to ignore the epic part and start writing.

    • Nanette Levin
      November 15, 2014 | 5:48 pm

      Tat – you make a wonderful point. Like, you, I don’t find myself challenged if I’m busy writing ;-). I don’t know if I go for epic, just seem to flounder with dozens of starts on topics don’t grab me when I revisit to finish. I’ll take your head and get going.

  2. Michele Bergh
    November 12, 2014 | 5:44 pm

    While I’m not currently experiencing writers block, I know how crippling it can be. Most of the time, when it happens, nothing feels right to share and yet I have this urge to do that very thing. I love your suggestions here and the awareness you bring to the topic. Thank you.

    • Nanette Levin
      November 15, 2014 | 5:50 pm

      Thanks for taking the time to stop in read and comment, Michele. I hear you on the share not feeling right. That’s, I suppose, more of the issue than the actual writing. I have dozens of issues I’m writing about – just know it’s probably best I keep that to myself :-).

  3. Elda
    November 13, 2014 | 4:51 am

    Some very interesting and unique tips here. Much appreciated. Gave me some things to think about.

    • Nanette Levin
      November 15, 2014 | 5:51 pm

      Thanks for popping over and commenting, Elda. I look forward to seeing what you have to say about gratitude.

  4. Kama
    November 14, 2014 | 3:03 pm

    Sometimes it can help to write, just for ourselves, about our stress or emotions in order to work through them. Often writing about something difficult can release the hold it has on us and free us from the blocks that stop us from writing what we really want to write. Sometimes as your chosen quote says, we just need a break … PS. I love the quick tips, very helpful.

    • Nanette Levin
      November 15, 2014 | 5:54 pm

      That’s a great point, Kama. You’re right of course – working through stuff by writing it down can certainly prove helpful – but those generally aren’t pieces I’d want to share (often, with anyone) ;-).

  5. Kelly L McKenzie
    November 14, 2014 | 9:38 pm

    Oh I am loving the tips here Nanette. I’m particularily fond of the get exercise one myself. That really helps me. I have to just get up and go out. Go for a dog walk. Often the thoughts and words come to me then. That and a cup of hot water and ginger. Latter settles me and somehow lets me focus.
    I also think Kama’s note in the comments is a good tip – to just write for yourself about the stress and emotions that could be holding you back.

    • Nanette Levin
      November 15, 2014 | 5:55 pm

      Now that hot water and ginger, Kelly – you’ve inspired me. It’s something I used to do in the winter (mmmm – warm fresh ginger) but got away from. Looks like we’ll be in the teens tonight so it might be a good time to get back into . . . onto my shopping list.

  6. Deborah Weber
    November 14, 2014 | 10:20 pm

    What excellent suggestions! Feeling blocked can be such an uncomfortable place to be in, but it’s nice to have some strategies on the ready. Personally I find cleaning clutter is very helpful. It’s a big stress reliever for me, and so helps alleviate the stress of feeling blocked; but it also helps move energy. And moving energy can allow for that breath of inspiration to come in.

    • Nanette Levin
      November 15, 2014 | 5:59 pm

      You’re so right Deborah. I’ve been working on organizing – and have reestablished my commitment to learn more about feng shui. where you plant yourself (and what surrounds you) can make such a huge difference on your inspiration (and attitude). Thanks for taking the time.

  7. Debbie Goode
    November 16, 2014 | 10:19 pm

    Great insights here on writer’s block. Clutter is something that can really shut me down. I do like a clean space…not to say that everything has to be in its place all the time. But when things start ‘piling up’ I just don’t seem to function as well!

    • Nanette Levin
      November 17, 2014 | 2:29 am

      Clutter can be an issue for me too, Debbie – seems it comes when my mind is not in the right place (not sure if this might be a chicken or egg question). Thanks for stopping in and adding your experience.

  8. Arwen
    November 16, 2014 | 11:47 pm

    I call mine the inFernal editor. I have learned to just write forward and sometimes to write backwards. By that I mean that I write what I know the end should be then start piecing my way back to the start. I don’t limit myself to linear writing. I do this for fiction and non-fiction as well.

    • Nanette Levin
      November 17, 2014 | 2:34 am

      That’s a curious and insightful comment to consider, Arwen. Funny, in business, I always see the end-game first then need to work to fill in the peaces to get there for others. I haven’t thought about writing that way – instead, when I’m on-target, I see it all before I start (mostly). Perhaps working backwards (something that suits my mind is a good approach. Thanks the tip – and also the spelling error catch. Will put the fix on my to do list :-).

  9. Amy Putkonen
    November 17, 2014 | 1:43 am

    Hi Nanette,

    When I am stuck, I find the best thing to do is to just write – anything! 🙂 Love the ginger tea idea, Kelly! Sounds awesome!

  10. Nanette Levin
    November 17, 2014 | 2:36 am

    Thanks, Amy. I bought ginger root this weekend, by the way. Looking forward to going back to enjoying that tea treat.

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