Last Updated on March 20, 2021 by Kelly Thoreson
Not so long ago, I had writer’s block.
Creative blue balls.
Whatever you wanna call it, I had it … bad.
Not to be dramatic but … every day was torture! I felt like the artist inside me was writhing in pain! I was dying!
My empty MS Word document taunted me, its cursor mocking me with every blink. Ha … ha … ha …
*throws monitor across the room*
If you’ve been there or are there now, you know how frustrating and defeating writer’s block can be.
Well, friend, I’m here to tell you that there is a way out. In fact … there are 5 ways out!
Take my hand, I’m going to help you gently pry open your creative treasure chest using the 5 cures for writer’s block below.
My Writer’s Block Story
When the writer’s block hit, I was coming off of a creative tear wherein an avalanche of words had effortlessly poured out of me every day, resulting in six, 2000+ word, blog posts in one week.
Not too shabby for a busy mom who also holds down a 30 hour a week day job!
Normally I journal in the AM, then follow it up with solid 2-4 hours of blog post writing like a freaking badass.
Alas, one drippy morning here in Portland, I sat down at my desk and nothing came out … nothing!
A badass, I was no longer.
A decrepit hand reached into my psyche and turned off my creative spigot. Not even a drop came out. It was maddening.
Samuel Taylor Coleridge described writer’s block as, “indefinite indescribable terror” and let me tell you, he wasn’t wrong.
I was truly worried that my creative well had tried up forever.
Meanwhile, my poor blog was wasting away, all its carefully crafted framework atrophying while I stared at a blank page. Or at least that’s how it felt.
The pressure to write was mounting and the more pressure I put on myself, the less creative I felt. The less creative I felt the more I panicked, which led to … you guessed it: even less creativity.
That is the vicious cycle of writer’s block.
My over-reactionary inner voice was telling me that this was it, this is where my blog dies, here in this arid wasteland of nothingness!
Bye-bye hopes and dreams! Hello, misery.
Yes … I am prone to being dramatic.
Knowing my tendency to exaggerate situations in my mind, I took a deep breath and I gave myself two options: either give up (not an option) or figure it the F out.
I chose the latter.
My process was less than scientific, I simply (and semi-frantically) started trying anything I could think of to remove the creative blockage. Then I ran with what worked.
I was throwing spaghetti at the creative wall, if you will, and below are the 5 noodles that stuck.
These are the tactics I used to pull myself out of my abysmal hole of writer’s rut and get back to publishing blog posts. Let’s take a gander!
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Writer’s Block Cure #1: Refill Your Well
The creative well that our writer’s spigot pulls from is not bottomless. It needs to be tended to, nurtured, and restored.
This is likely why I experienced writer’s block directly after an almost manic creative tear – I had used up all my writing juice.
I pulled from the well with such ferocity without refilling it that it had run dry.
Let’s look at how to refill your well:
Take a Break!
This one seems obvious, but as bloggers, we know it’s not.
You’ll hear me say that blogging is tough.
It’s tough because we have to play to an empty room for what feels like zero return for an undetermined amount of time before our reasons for starting the blog in the first place can begin to be justified.
I don’t know about you, but this makes me chase my goals even harder! The thought that if I just put up one more blog post, one more Pin, tweak my homepage just one more time before I go to bed I’ll be that much closer to achieving my blogging dreams – makes it so I never really get out of my office chair.
One more paragraph turns into 12 and before I know it I’ve missed dinner and have made myself sick of the post’s topic in the process.
Like a dog with a bone.
Breaks are important, people.
Affirm to yourself that taking a break is moving forward with your blog.
It is progress in that the break will allow you to keep producing, publishing, and working toward your goals.
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I tell this to my daughter all the time: it is good for your brain to be bored sometimes.
We are constantly bombarding our minds with, “entertainment”. Any morsel of free time is now fed to a screen.
Think about it … what do you do when you’re waiting in line at the grocery store? At the bus stop? In a coffee shop?
Don’t be embarrassed, we’re all checking our phones for a new text, social media-ing, or in my case squeezing in one more quick read about blogging strategy.
The trouble is that we are not allowing our minds any time to process the information we’re force feeding it every waking hour.
I want you to recall the last time a truly fantastic new idea popped into your head.
What were you doing? I’m willing to bet, it was when you weren’t doing anything at all.
My best ideas always come to me when I am on a walk or in the shower.
Allow yourself to be bored. Try these boredom tactics on for size:
- Leave your phone in the car while you grocery shop
- Go on a walk without your cell phone
- Just sit while you wait for your kids to get out of soccer practice instead of reading a book, scrolling social media, or listening to a podcast
- Take a shower in silence (if you normally listen to something while you bathe)
- Bring no entertainment to bed with you (like books, journal, phone, etc)
It’s in those moments of non-doing that our minds are at play and can be creative again.
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Be honest, are you Jim Carrey from Yes Man?
Sidebar: does anyone else miss browsing the video rental store on Fridays and grabbing some over-priced cotton candy while waiting in the mile-long line? #90sKid
Saying yes to something you would normally say no to is one of the easiest ways to break out of your comfort zone and experience something new.
Unless you’re saying yes to accompanying a stranger to a dark alley (don’t do that), you’ll probably have a good time too.
Say your kiddo wants to make a face mask out of turmeric, coffee, and yogurt right before bedtime on a Sunday night. Challenge yourself, say yes. You don’t always have to be the practical mommy.
And yes, that example is from my life.
And ummm yes I know it looks like we have baby shit all over our faces:
Normally I would have said no to a time consuming/messy project at 8:30 on a school night, but as you recall, I was actively trying to say yes when I would normally say no.
And you know what? I had so much fun!
Also I gained like, +10 cool mom points – bonus!
What have you got to lose? Say yes, see what happens, and enjoy the kick start a new experience can give to your creative life.
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Writer’s Block Cure #2: Get Inspired
You never know where your next big idea’s inspiration will come from.
That is why it is important to expose yourself to a large swath of inspirational material from both in and outside of your niche.
I listen to blogging podcasts, read blogging books, and consume blog post about blogging like I’ve been stranded on an island for 20 days and they’re a cool glass of water.
Researching your niche is all well and good but I generally stumble upon my best ideas when I tune into something wholly unrelated to my niche.
Andre 3000 of OutKast has cited Rage Against the Machine as inspiration for their iconic song, Bombs Over Baghdad.
Take a listen for yourself, you tell me, do these two artists sound alike?
Other than both being mind-blowingly original and just awesome in general, no, they sound nothing alike.
According to Andre, he was inspired by Rage Against the Machine’s sense of urgency and he wanted to see what would happen if he embodied that same energy within his own genre.
These are some of my favorite non-niche-related go-to’s for inspiration:
- TED Talks (love me some TED Radio Hour)
- Fiction books (currently reading The German Girl and loooving it)
- A good documentary, favorites:
The Secret Life of Crows (you’ll look at them differently after this):
Dirty Money (con artists suck, yo):
Inspiration strikes in surprising spaces. If you have been flooding your brain with only one topic, it may be contributing to your writer’s block.
To find your Rage Against the Machine muse, you may need to reach outside of your niche.
Feed your mind some new material, you may find creativity in unexpected nooks and crannies!
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Writer’s Block Cure #3: Spruce up your Space
One sure-fire way to murder your creative spirit is having piles of laundry languishing in front of you while you’re trying to write.
My office is also my laundry room because, well … what can I say? I’m just that fancy.
This means that not only does my writing space pull triple duty as an office/communal space/cat lounge ….
I know, you’re jealous.
… but that it also can get extraordinarily cluttered shockingly fast.
When I took a good look around, I realized that my writing space looked like the dryer had projectile-vomited all over it.
As part of my noodle-throwing, I decided to clean out the office/laundry room/cat sanctuary, de-clutter and add some art. It immediately made me feel better! I actually wanted to be in there!
Also, it just feels good to throw shit away sometimes. Win-win.
Did you know that Stephen King wrote Carrie in the laundry room of his double-wide trailer in between his day job and raising a family?
Just like Mr. King, for most of us bloggers, we’re not starting out with a tranquil home office and ample time to write beautiful blog posts.
We’re getting up early to write before work. Squeezing in a couple thoughts on our laptop while waiting for our kid’s basketball practice to end. Typing away on the couch with chaos all around us.
As bloggers, we do what we have to do to make it happen, we are scrappy folk.
But that doesn’t mean that we have to just accept our spaces for what they are.
Clutter and mess will weigh you down. They nag at your brain, interrupting your flow state and halting your creativity.
What is your writing space looking like nowadays? Consider revamping your area with these tips:
- Clear out the clutter. Then resist the urge to pile your empty shelves back up with crap. Clutter can be the literal blockage that is keeping you from writing.
- Clean the surfaces. Now that you can actually see your surfaces, get out your favorite counter spray and go nuts. Like my boyfriend says, a clean room is a happy room. A happy room = a happy writer.
- Rearrange the layout. You’re a smart person and your mind likes new things to look at. Give that big ole’ brain of yours a new view and see if it stirs up some creativity.
- Add a piece of art. Find something that speaks to you. This doesn’t have to cost you a whole bunch of money: upcycle something from another room, or hit up the thrift store! One of my favorite pieces of art-inspiration came from a free postcard that the artist was handing out at an event. It’s been in front of me at my desk ever since:
- Change the lighting. This can be as simple as swapping out a sterile-looking cool-white light bulb for a warm-white one and the effect on your mood is astonishing. Better mood, better writing.
- Make it comfortable. If you are physically uncomfortable while you’re writing, you’re going a fat lot of nowhere. Do you need a new chair? Desk footrest cause you’re 5’1″ like me? Space heater? A/C? They’re called creature comforts for a reason, we are creatures and they make us feel good.
- Make it a place you want to be. If there is any other reason you don’t like being in your writing space – fix it! It could be holding you back from creating your masterpiece.
If you’re experiencing writer’s block, spruce up your space and see for yourself how it unlocks your creativity!
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Writer’s Block Cure #4: Exercise
I know, I know. I don’t like it anymore than you do.
But the science (and the feeling afterward) is undeniable: exercise will make you more creative.
This study by Stanford University concluded that creativity can be enhanced by implementing a daily walking routine.
Walking! The easiest, most accessible and always free exercise out there!
Aside from the science, I have my own ancedotal support for the exercise/creativity link for two reasons.
Firstly, I just feel damn good after exercising. Sure, getting myself to do it can be like trying to train your cat to sit on command. But once I do – woooo child watch out cause I’m on cloud nine.
Being in a good mood means I have one less reason not to write!
Secondly, it turns my afternoon-totally-braindead-time into viable writing time.
My time of creative genius is first thing in the morning, from around 4am to 11 am. After that, it’s all down hill. I’m like a wind up toy slowly loosing its steam and when 2 pm rolls around I am done.
I have found that, by doing a quick 10-20 minute exercise, I am able to get a second wind and can write in the afternoon for another 1-2 hours.
To put it simply, if you need a writer’s block cure, exercise is a an extremely effective and free tool that will only take you about 10 minutes so why not?
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Writer’s Block Cure #5: Write (Anything) Every Day
I saved the best writer’s block cure for last.
The most effective cure I have found for writer’s block is to write about (no-joke) anything every day.
Do not wait for inspiration, just get that pen in your hand and put it to paper.
What really stops us from writing? Ourselves.
Our inner critic that won’t STF up.
In order to stifle our inner critic, we have to write in such mass quantities and with such conviction that its douche-bag self can’t keep up.
I am a ginormous fan of a practice called Morning Pages.
I didn’t create the concept of Morning Pages, it comes from an amaze-balls book called the Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron.
This book is a little woo-woo, which is right up my alley, but if woo-woo isn’t your jam you will still be able to benefit greatly from the Artist’s Way as a writer.
I believe every creative should read it at least once!
Click to get your copy:
Here’s Morning Pages in a nutshell: first thing after waking up (ok so maybe after going pee and grabbing a caffeinated beverage) sit down and freehand write a 3 page stream of consciousness.
If you don’t know what to write, literally write, “I don’t know what to write.” over and over until another thought pops into your head and then write that thought, and the next and so on for three pages.
Think of this process like a brain dump. You’re getting rid of all the crap clogging your pipes so the creative spigot can flow freely again.
Then – and this is the most important part – do not reread them. Burn them if that’s what will keep you from reviewing what you just wrote.
Why? By not reading your written stream of consciousness you are robbing your inner critic of the opportunity to tear your work apart.
Additionally, you are building a habit of writing without stopping, without tearing yourself down and without breaking your creative flow.
It doesn’t matter what you write, just sit down every day and do it.
Now that you know about Morning Pages, I want you to use them every day!
You will be shocked at how they not only open you up creatively but hone your focus by freeing your mind from nagging thoughts.
In order to be a successful blogger, you must create content on a regular basis, that is just part of the job.
The longer you wait to create, the more pressure you will feel to publish and the less inspired you will be to do so (the vicious cycle of writer’s block).
Don’t let your creativity die (and your blog along with it), try out these 5 writer’s block cures today so you can be on your way to a creatively fulfilled life!
What are your favorite writer’s block cures? Leave your answer in the comments below!
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