Overcoming Writer’s Block

I’ve had a handful of folk ask me lately how I overcome writer’s block and to be honest there is no magic answer. What works for me won’t necessarily work for you. However I thought I’d put together some sort of post with some suggestions and tips, from my experience, that may help to inspire and motivate you. This post is more aimed at bloggers, creative writers, perhaps even journalists – but may come in handy if you’re stuck in a rut with an essay or something along those lines (pardon the pun). Oh I do love a good pun.

Grab the nearest book, magazine or newspaper (anything with words really) and I want you to close your peepers and place your finger on the page. Open your eyes. Whatever is under your finger is your starting point. Use this to start your story, or why not put it in the middle of the page and create a mind map – do a little brainstorming – see if this can help you to create a synopsis, a character, think outside the box a little. Use this word or sentence and make it magical. Remember, you are a writer, and even if you can’t put pen to paper you can still create in your mind. There are sources of inspiration all around you. Look around.

Likewise, use an image from a magazine, catalogue, a face from the T.V show you’re watching (even an audience member from Jeremy Kyle or an extra in Coronation Street) and use this to inspire. Again, if it’s a character you’re creating, boom. You’ve got one already. You’ve got a vague description, you can expand on that, and with a character comes a story. Let it come. Let it flow. If it’s a blog post you’re writing, hey, who says you can’t do the same? Let the image sink in to your mind. For example, you might hate whatever you’re watching and from this do an open letter to the writers, to the cast, to the character (it could be light-hearted or controversial, either way you’ve gained an audience reach already). Or why not really take in the image, maybe it reminds you of someone, maybe it’ll spark a little blast from the past and help you to come up with a personal/lifestyle(ish) post. Images are everywhere. If you’re in a waiting room, look at the posters around you, look at the faces – use these sources to inspire you. People watching is the perfect way to create inspiration for writing. No matter what piece of writing you’re working on.

Listen to what’s going on around you. Evesdropping is a goldmine for writers. Sit in a coffee shop for half an hour with a little notepad and a pen and I gurantee you will come up with something.

Ask someone for a little motivation; something I do that works pretty well if I’m stuck at traffic lights with my writing is I’ll say to someone ‘give me a word, any word in the world’ and then work with whatever they give you. Again, you can do a mindmap with this, start your story based on the word, use it as a theme or something underlying in your post, story etc.

Read. I know everyone always tells you to do this to inspire your writing but honestly, if you call yourself a writer, and you read a good book or story or blog post and don’t come away feeling inspired and ready to write then are you really a writer at heart? If you read you will be not only inspired but educated, enlightened and eager. I promise. 

Take time away. Honestly, if you sit and stare at a blank page or screen you’ll just put yourself completely off whatever you’re working on. Take time away, watch shit TV, phone a friend, meet a friend, hit the gym, go a walk, treat yourself, have a good ol’ time to yourself – whatever floats your boat. And then come back with a fresh pair of eyes. I promise it’ll do you the world of good. You might even pick up some fresh inspiration whilst you’re doing whatever you choose to do. 

Eat. Sometimes you just need a sweet treat, a mighty feast or a refreshment to refuel your mind. Go and get yourself some grub and then come back to it.

Reflect. You can easily overcome writer’s block by reflecting. Ask yourself, why have I hit a brick wall? What’s stopping me from writing? Am I distracted? What do I need to do here? What works for me? Ask yourself questions. Reflect. Reflect. Reflect. Maybe even read over some writing you’ve done before, see if it reveals a nugget of wisdom somewhere, a spark of encouragement or a new idea. Reflect on your feelings, your enviroment and just take a breather. If you’re in your bedroom and your little brother is belting his heart out in the shower next door to you then that’s probably what’s preventing you from writing – get yourself out of there. Hit the library, pop some headphones on and get some waves, birds and rain music on. Seriously. It’ll help. Some people work better with noise, if you’re isolated and nothing is coming, take yourself on a date to the coffee shop with your notepad. Get inspired. Take in the moment. Reflect.

You know, I’m getting right in to this post, as it’s something I’ve often struggled with. And still do. I beat myself up on a regular basis because I ain’t got a thing to say or don’t know where to start. It can be stressful. You’ve got to dig deep. Think quick. You’ve totally got this. And if you need one word to inspire you to write after reading this post, here’s mine: yearn.

Happy writing and I hope that this post was fruitful to some of you out there!

Charlene McElhinney

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10 Comments

  1. March 21, 2018 / 12:12 pm

    I’ve been stuck in a massive creativity/writing block recently. I need to go to a coffee shop and people watch (as it’s my favourite) and see what inspires me! Thanks for the tips lovely!

    Tarnya xx
    http://www.sweetallure.co.uk

  2. March 21, 2018 / 8:37 pm

    I hate getting writers block, that’s why I stopped blogging over xmas. I just didn’t feel it xx

  3. March 22, 2018 / 10:49 am

    I don’t think I’d add anything to this list, Charlene! Great tips. Whenever I’m thinking about bloggers block or being unmotivated with ideas, my first thing I say is step away from it. Sometimes we can certainly think about it TOO much which has the opposite effect on productivity! xxx

  4. fessjarmer
    March 22, 2018 / 10:54 pm

    Definitely great advice! I agree with all of these, especially reading and taking time away to do something else- they’re my go-tos when stuck for ideas! x

  5. March 23, 2018 / 8:39 am

    I loved all of these tips. I always try to read a book, watch some telly or go outside to help me gather inspiration. Writer’s block can be so difficult to deal with!

  6. _findingkate_
    March 24, 2018 / 8:41 am

    These are such good tips! I used to suffer with writer’s block when I had to write content as part of my day job but since that’s changed I’ve suffered a lot less! I definitely agree on the sweet treat front – there’s nothing like a lovely bar of chocolate and a nice cup of tea to get you reinvigorated! Such handy tips – definitely bookmarking for when I inevitably suffer the dreaded block again!
    Kate x
    http://www.findingkate.co

  7. alohalola
    March 25, 2018 / 9:42 am

    In my past profession as a Journalist suffering from writer’s block was a nightmare! Like you said I feel taking time away from the screen/page is so helpful. The words normally come to me half way through a walk or making a brew! x x x

  8. March 26, 2018 / 6:41 pm

    I love this post. One day I hope to write my own story, my own book and these tips will definitely help me when I hit that inevitable writers block wall! xx

    http://www.whattabithaloves.co.uk/

  9. April 2, 2018 / 7:15 pm

    Great tips!! I’ll have to try the magazine trick.

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