CloseupWriter’s block happens to all of us, but it especially happens to writers who don’t have strict deadlines to get their work done; after all, if that article, essay or novel isn’t finished by March 1st like you wanted it to be, who’s holding you accountable? The threat and fear of a deadline puts most writers’ feet under the fire (it does mine) and the writer’s block usually melts away due to necessity. I’ve seen so many writers who don’t have accountability partners or who aren’t working towards an artificial deadline (like a contest) never complete their writing goals. So in honor of those of you who are blocked, here are a few of my tried and true tips for getting out of it.

  • You’re probably blocked because you’re avoided something painful or hard. Start a ritual like lighting a candle, grab a timer and make yourself sit down and write, ANYTHING, for 10-15 minutes. As soon as you start writing, you’ll see that you can extend that time.
  • You’re a perfectionist and feel that you’re wasting your time by writing something you know won’t be that good. Stop that! All first drafts aren’t good and you know it. Go ahead and write the word “DRAFT” at the top of your legal pad or at the top of your Word document.
  • Observe another art form such as music, visual art or visit a museum. You’ll take some of your own pressure and receive new and fresh ideas.
  • Write a letter to a friend explaining to her/him what you’re trying to write

And I got some of these fantastic tips from Arthur Plotnik in the Feb 2010 issue of The Writer

  • write an email using a new word
  • take a trip inside your own neighborhood and really observe the people around you. Write about them. Use all of your senses (taste, touch, smell, sound and sight).
  • take a break to look at scrapbooks, letters and photo albums, but set a timer so you don’t go down too far along memory lane!
  • conjure up some metaphors and obsure colors by visiting a museum, zoo, fancy food store, or in the paint aisle of your local Hope Depot.
  • check out your library or bookstore and let your mind go. Where do you see your future book? What’s hot on the shelves right now?
  • Read a few chapters of The Bible or some old-fashioned poetry like Wordsworth or Barrett Browning.
  • Hang out with someone in an interesting occupation — rug cleaner, your exterminator — you get the idea.

And if these ideas aren’t helpful, readers, please submit your own ideas for breaking writer’s block!