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Overcoming Writers Block – How to Start Writing, Keep Writing

Lack of inspiration? No motivation to write? These six tips for overcoming writers block will help you find what works for you.  These writing tips are from experienced freelance writers, successful novelists, and writing coaches.

Overcoming Writers Block How to Start Writing, Keep WritingIf you need writing prompts, read The Writer’s Block: 786 Ideas to Jump-Start Your Imagination. The book is a treasure chest of writing prompts to help writers overcome writer’s block.

Before the tips, a quip: “I’m writing a book. I’ve got the page numbers done.” ~ Steven Wright.

That’s a fine example of writer’s block — when the only thing more blank than the screen in front of you is your mind (as quipped by editor Stephen Blake Mettee).

By the way, I heard bestselling author Bob Mayer speak at the Surrey International Writers’ Conference last year. When asked if he struggles with writer’s block, he said he can’t afford to. He has bills to pay, mouths to feed, mortgages to keep up on, etc….writer’s block isn’t part of his career.

And, see if there’s something in these tips that may help you overcome writers block.

6 Tips for Overcoming Writers Block

“Turn off the television, turn off your Blackberry, stop paging through all those news aggregate sites, and Just Write!” – Jen Miner, writer and blogger.

Does this seems easier said than done? Then check these tips out…

Forget the writer’s muse

“Most successful writers sit down at their computers every day and get to work, whether they’re feeling particularly ‘inspired’ at that moment or not.  Sometimes the inspiration doesn’t come until you’ve slogged through some hard work and drudgery first.” – Barbara Kerley, award-winning children’s book author, with 8 books published and 2 on the way.

Chew off one bite at a time

“The idea of writing a book is, for most of us, an enormous undertaking. To think we can do it in a big chunk is self-sabotage. It’s like the old story of how you eat an elephant- one bite at a time. By chopping the book process down to a page a day, you’ll be more inclined to begin. Once you do that, your already moving toward writing your book.” – Jim Donovan, author, speaker, business coach

Write even when you feel blocked or uninspired

“We writers tend to indulge ourselves; we’re quick to acknowledge each distraction or tiny pain or lowered feeling.  Much as we are driven to write, we feel that we must be in the mood to write — as if the clouds will part, the sun will shine and every possible interruption will be silenced, and then it will be time to write. A professor in my freshman year at the University at Buffalo said to me, “None of that matters.  Write anyway.  Don’t think about how you feel or if it’s a perfect time to write or that you have a thousand other things to do. Write anyway. You have nothing to share and nothing to sell if there are no words on the page.” So “write anyway” became my mantra, and I write a thousand words a day, every day.” – Randi Minetor, author and freelance writer.

Keep writing despite writers block
How to Overcome Writers Block

Set specific writing goals

“Give yourself a short increment of time (15 minutes) and force yourself to write non-stop for that length of time. Treat yourself to a bathroom break, YouTube video or piece of chocolate when you finish your time.” – Nicole Amsler, freelance copywriter

Create a “to do” list for your book that doesn’t involve writing

“I don’t believe in writer’s block (I’m not the most popular person at a writer’s conference, as you can imagine). Here’s the deal: when I work with folks I tell them to outline the book from start to finish. Chapter by chapter and then create a “to do” list from each chapter: research, permissions, character development, whatever. This gives them a running list of things to do, so if they don’t feel like writing, they can still move the book forward. This works for fiction and non-fiction.” – Penny C. Sansevieri, writers’ coach

Learn how to overcome perfectionism

“Many an article was never written because of the writer’s fear of not being good enough! It probably won’t be the last time you’ll ever get a chance to write on this very topic, so do the best you can and leave it at that. You can always tackle the subject from another angle or include different quotes for another publication in the future.” – Peggy Hall, veteran freelance writer

If you can’t find ideas that spark your writing, read How to Know What to Write About.

Have you wrestled with your writing — how do you overcome writer’s block? Comments welcome below…

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8 thoughts on “Overcoming Writers Block – How to Start Writing, Keep Writing”

  1. “I’ve never been big on the agony of writing,” said James Michener. “I see no evidence that Tolstoy suffered from writer’s block.”

  2. Two points that are most appealing are: Chew off one bite at a time & making a to-do list whice doesn’t include writing – though they are quite hard to undertake 🙂

  3. Thanks for your tips for overcoming writer’s block…sometimes the comments left by other writers contain better information than the original blog post! I really appreciate your thoughts.

    .-= Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen´s last blog post ..5 Ideas for Earning Money Writing – Tips From Experienced Writers =-.

  4. These are excellent tips. I find that freewriting always works for me. I also try and figure out a headline and an opening paragraph, and then the words flow much more easily.

    Usha Krishnan Sliva

  5. This is a list I have in my office when I need to overcome writer’s block:

    Experiment — Try to write in different places, at different times, and with different writing instruments.

    Freewrite – Choose one sentence in a paragraph and write a paragraph about it. Then choose one sentence from that paragraph and do it again.

    Cluster – Choose key words and ideas; then write associated ideas and words in clusters around them. This process often forms new ideas.

    Be flexible — Be willing to throw out sections of text that are causing problems or just don’t work.

    Follow a routine — Follow a routine to get into the writing mood. Try activities like wearing comfortable clothing, using a certain pen, or listening to a particular CD or type of music.

    Move — Physically move around, stretch, or walk.

    Take a break — Get a snack or drink, talk to someone, or just relax for five minutes before starting to write again.

    Concentrate — Focus on a different section or aspect of your paper. This sometimes leads to new insights in problem areas, while allowing you to get work done on another section.

    Re-read — Read a print draft of the paper and jot down ideas while reading.

    Relax! — The more you worry, the harder it gets to think clearly.

    This is from LEO (Literary Education Online).

  6. Don’t forget that you don’t need a computer in order to write. Dickens, the Brontes and Shakespeare all managed without. If you’re a compulsive emailer or youtube checker, save yourself the distraction and don’t switch the computer on.

    Plus, writing can include thinking time. On the commute to work, hanging on the phone or doing mundane jobs around the house, set your imagination to work on the next scene or plot. By the time you reach your computer, you’re then ready to “type” because you’ve already figured out what there is to say.

    Elaine Saunders
    Author – Fiction Writing Exercises