12 Ways to Eliminate Writer’s Block When Nothing Else Works

Sandy Beach - Writers BlockHave you tried all of the tricks on getting inspired and generating ideas, but nothing seems to work?

The last few weeks have been nothing but grueling hard work for me.

I never thought I’d have this much trouble writing articles, but alas, writer’s block hits everybody sooner or later it seems.

It has gotten so bad that I’ve considered reducing the amount of posts I write each week.

I know many are more comfortable writing only when they get truly inspired, but at the moment, that’s not what works for me.

This period of writer’s hell hasn’t been in vain, because I can now share with you how I am able to write in spite of all this.

Believe it or not, I have had moments of clarity, and I’ve made sure to take maximum advantage of them to get stuff done. This article is one of those moments, so enjoy!

[Update: Today, in 2013, I pretty much never have trouble with writer's block. Just thought I'd pop this update in here to let you know that there are ways of almost always being in the flow.]

1. Copy Others. A great source of “inspiration” for me is to simply look at what others have done. For example, I might check out the Zen Habits archives for post ideas. Anything that will get my mind rolling is okay with me.

2. Write Your Worst. I want everything to be perfect, which is why allowing myself to write an absolutely horrendous article often releases my inner genius. That feeling inside my heart of utter wordlessness is horrible and just writing something down is an accomplishment.

3. It’s Just … I’m all for tricking my mind, and one of the ways I do just that is to tell myself that I’m writing just another blog post. I’m not going for the Pulitzer price. I am just trying to get my thoughts out there and help others improve their lives. It’s not about writing perfect prose, it’s about getting your message out and doing your best. Sometimes we have to remind ourselves of that.

4. Brainstorm. When I’m brainstorming I put up a rough title of the topic I want to write about and write down everything and anything that comes to mind. If you do this, make sure you keep going until you believe you’re empty, then keep going, because that’s when the magic happens.

5. Article Marketing. Article marketing always helps me loosen up, because when I’m writing articles and submitting them to article directories, there’s no pressure. It’s like going on a vacation. Instead of writing on my own blog, I can crank out a handful of articles that bring me traffic for life. Mmm, I might just write a few right now.

6. Focus on Value. When you suffer from writer’s block, what’s on your mind? Are you focused on you? What if you turned it around and focused on the value you can provide? Everyone is afraid, even the successful people you look up to, and besides, insecurity doesn’t pay the bills.

7. Don’t Write. The absolute best way to get over writer’s block is to stop. I tend to overwork myself, so allowing myself to take a break often works brilliantly. This can be dangerous though, because you can’t keep doing it forever if you want to get stuff done.

8. Leverage Deadlines. Currently I have a posting schedule on this blog, which is what keeps me afloat. If you’re anything like me, you tend to get everything done at the last minute. Leveraging my own deadlines hasn’t failed on me yet. Put pressure on yourself and produce.

9. Don’t Try. Do or do not, there is no try. Wise words from Master Yoda. I’ve noticed that when I try too hard, I can’t get anything done. Sometimes I have to remind myself to relax and have fun. There’s no competition. There is no one I have to please but myself. Let go, breathe and write.

10. Have a Purpose. What are you really trying to accomplish with your writing? Do you have a purpose? Having a goal or purpose you can focus on brings momentum. If you’re writing without a goal or purpose, you will be running in circles. Write down what you’re trying to accomplish and remind yourself of it when necessary.

11. Go Crazy. If nothing else works, it’s time to pull out all of the plugs and do something crazy. When we get stuck in our daily routines, our life becomes boring and so do our minds. Go ride a bull, do something you’ve never done before, or travel in an unconventional way. It’s up to you, but make it awesome and mind-blowing, otherwise it won’t work!

12. Ideal Reader. Who are you writing for? A common way to get stuck is to write for a crowd of people. Then you end up wondering if you’re good enough, or if your writing will be liked. Just pick one person to write to. Let your mind go crazy with all the doubts and fears, but you focus on one person. Imagine sitting down with them for a cup of tea, and have a conversation.

In the end, you will have to find your own way. These twelve ways are just some that have helped me get through some seriously frightening writer’s block.

You can get through this.

I have.

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Comments

  1. Hey Henri,

    Taking a break and *not* writing is one of the most effective ways for me to break writers block too. I like to spend that time outside – hiking, walking, running, something where I don’t have to concentrate too much and can just let my mind decompress a bit.

    =)

    • Getting out and hanging out with nature is definitely a peaceful and effective way to get thoughts flowing. Cheers, Sid!

  2. I usually just think of what things I like and what new ways I could find things to write about and take notes. All that in itself sometimes inspires a crazy great blog post.

    I kind of follow this concept as well: If you want something you’ve never had you’ve got to do something you’ve never done.

    • I like that saying a lot. I’ve heard it, but don’t know who said it. Excellent points though. Thanks, Eric!

  3. Hi Henri. That was a good idea that you did here. You had writer’s block and didn’t know what to write about, so you wrote about ways to solve writer’s block. Like in some of your points, sometimes the best way to get ideas is to not write about anything and go outside. Ideas will start coming to you. I used to do this a lot. But since I started to write more about people, I can’t really do that anymore. It takes a little bit more research. Thanks for sharing these tips with us Henri.

    • It’s always much easier when you’re completely honest and transparent. Just write about what you’re going through in a way that’s valuable.

  4. Thanks as always for using your obstacles to create another great post with helpful tips for the rest of us Henri.

    Just a thought – your writers block seemed to coincide with the release of your ebook. I know you put a lot of time and effort into that. Maybe the block is a sign you need some time out after that?

    • I think you may be right. I’ve taken my work down a few notches since the release. But I can’t seem to take too much time off. I’m always drawn back!

  5. Henri,

    I go through phases with this. Every now and then I”ll hit writers block, but it seems a rare thing. So here’s my two cents on it

    1) Stop believing in Writer’s block: We create our own reality so, one place to start might be to convince yourself that you always have an endless stream of ideas for blog

    2) Keep a list of topics: This is one that I always do. Anytime I come up with an idea for something I just throw it down in my list. Even if I’m not writing about it that day. The great thing about doing this is that it keeps an idea in your mind and it’s like planting a seed. It comes to fruition over the course of a few days.

    3) Comments on Another Person’s Post: It’s quite often that I’ll find inspiration for my next article in the comments section of another blogger’s post. If you take time to read the comments of everybody else sometimes you’ll find the answer there. Sometimes just writing a comment yourself can end up being the thing that gets you over it

    4) Don’t Write: Love this one that you pointed out. I usually come up with about 80% of my blog post ideas when I’m surfing, not even thinking about blog post ideas. So, getting unplugged for a while can be really helpful.

    5) Trying implies that it’s possible to fail, and i’ve heard and read somewhere that you should just eliminate the word from your vocabulary. So definitely solid advice on that one.

    Great ideas overall :)

    • Great ideas, Srini! I’ve definitely noticed a few patterns in how I manifest writer’s block for myself.

  6. RIDE A BULL – I’ve always wanted to do this, I hear you can do this in Mexcio pretty easily. I’m in the process of planning a backpacking trip across Europe when I graduate in a few months. I have a feeling I will be completly rejuvenated after the trip.

    Thanks for great ideas Henri!

  7. Archan Mehta says:

    Henri,

    I am a professional writer: I have suffered from “Writer’s Block” my entire life.

    (What a coincidence, by the way, I just had my poem published titled “Writer’s Block” in Stefan Knapen’s March newsletter, that is, on his blog, “Study Successful.”
    I wrote this poem in a lighter vein. If you read it, it will make you laugh, I am sure!).

    Whenever I face this problem, I ignore it and go for a walk. If inspiration strikes, fine, otherwise I have other hobbies and interests besides writing. If you can’t write, don’t blow it out of proportions. Find something else to occupy your time.

    I’m lucky because I have so many hobbies and interests I have managed to cultivate over the years. If you get bored, there is never a dull moment: follow your muse and let it lead you astray. Don’t worry, be happy, just like the old song.

    Cheers! This is another useful post. Instead of overcoming your writer’s block, learn to transcend it. Surfing, riding a bull, going for a walk…all are great ideas, to be sure. Leave your comfort zone. Try an exotic cuisine. Travel. And thank you.

    • I didn’t know you were a professional writer. That’s cool!

      Funny you mentioned to not blow it out of proportion. The exact same philosophy applies to poker when you hit a bad streak of luck, which can happen in a game where chance is involved.

      The more variety you have in your life, the less likely you are to hit writer’s block. I couldn’t agree more with that!

  8. Hi Henri! I’m reading ‘Do Something Different – 100 Ways to Shake Up your Life’. When stuck (with writing, or indeed with anything), try cooking something new from scratch. Write in a different location. Wear something you’ve not worn in ages. Look at the usual things with new eyes. We get accustomed to seeing what we think is there. Creativity plummets.

    Check this out. What do you see when you read this?: Opportunitiesarenowhere

    Do you see ‘opportunities are no where’, or ‘opportunities are now here’?

    Cool, and a good eye opener about how doing something different, or looking at the same old things differently, can be creative and inspiring. Happy writing!

    • I saw opportunities are no where, unfortunately! Thanks for the tips, I’ll definitely try them out next time writer’s block has me cornered ;)

  9. Wow your just like me. Its hard to find inspiration. Great tips.

  10. Thanks for the blog. I loved #7 not to write. Some times I need to take a day or two and not write. For me this allows my mind to clear up and my thoughts to refocus. Thanks for the 11 points

  11. I dont have a problem of not knowing what to write. My problem is having enough time to write everything I want. Sometimes, I have an excellent idea, but the value of keywords for Adsense is too low, so it’s not worth the effort to write.

  12. Bud Hennekes says:

    hey man! Thanks for sharing your lessons. I really admire you for doing what you’ve done so quickly. Very impressive man, and I know it is just the beginning. :)

    • Thanks Bud! I really have no idea what I’m doing, but I follow my heart and do my best :D