Writer’s block can be a tricky thing to overcome. No matter what causes writer’s block, the good news is that it doesn’t have to last forever. While everyone experiences writer’s block occasionally, there are also some great strategies and tactics you can use to get your creative juices flowing again.
Everyone experiences it differently, so there are too many stories to name! For some, it might be the feeling of another looming deadline and racing thoughts that feel impossible to pin down into words. For others, it might be an internalized fear of taking risks or not being heard or understood.
Here are some tips and stories about how other writers have overcome creative blocks:
Chunking your writing project into smaller pieces
This can make goals feel more achievable. Break down larger projects into manageable tasks like research paper outlines or character sketches and use those milestones as checkpoints rather than focusing on the whole at once.
Take novelist Haruki Murakami, for example. Murakami started writing his highly acclaimed novel A Wild Sheep Chase in 1979 after experiencing a three-month writing drought due to feeling overwhelmed by pressure and expectations. He worked through it by breaking down the process into manageable chunks—he focused on one chapter at a time—which helped him regain momentum and eventually complete the book.
Write something completely different
If you’re feeling stuck in one genre of writing, try writing something completely different! Switch things up with a fun assignment like a poem or article about something new—unrelated to your main project. Doing this gives you space from overthinking without undoing your work while allowing creativity (and motivation) to flow again when you return to the original task.
Here is what some successful writers did to overcome creative blocks
In his book On Writing, Stephen King recounts how he was stuck in an endless writing slump; no matter how hard he tried, nothing seemed to come to him, and any words that did come felt wrong. He finally decided to take some time off woodshedding—working on something entirely different—to give himself a mental break and make space for new ideas.
After months away from the page, King returned to writing with newfound inspiration and a determination to challenge himself creatively. His practical approach resulted in several successful books that went on to become bestsellers all over the world!
On Writing has since become an essential guide for aspiring writers seeking real-world advice on overcoming periods of being blocked creatively. With candid anecdotes about struggling with self-doubt and tips for staying focused, it’s an invaluable resource demonstrating why Stephen King remains one of the greatest contemporary authors today!
– Anne Lamott’s account in her book Bird by Bird about beating her bad case of writer’s block while trying to write her novel, Rosie. To get unstuck, she used unorthodox methods like taking random notes on anything she happened to observe around her during walks or trips—scribbling comments even about mundane details like somebody sipping coffee or setting out groceries at a store—then combining them later into more structured pieces that ultimately comprised the narrative arc she needed for Rosie. Her experiment proved successful and led directly toward completing what would become one of Lamott’s most famous works!
Emily Dickinson suffered through bouts of writer’s block throughout her life. However, she focused more on private creative endeavors than public success until later in life when her family posthumously published some of her poems after she died at age 55. Her dedication is inspiring as, despite feeling blocked off by society due to gender norms and lack of widespread appreciation for female authors, Dickinson continued producing hundreds upon hundreds of brilliant compositions, bravely defying these obstacles entirely outside traditional publishing channels.
A nonfiction author became blocked during research and tried something outside the box. She wrote short stories based on the material she’d been reading while researching for longer articles which allowed her creative freedom without getting bogged down by facts or details; these stories provided narrative arcs, reenergizing her work on nonfiction pieces too!
Change up where you write
If you’re used to working in an office chair indoors, take your laptop outside for a change of scenery; go somewhere inspiring like a cafe terrace—anything that helps mix things up and break away from regular routines could help kickstart creative focus again!
Here are some unique stories about overcoming writer’s block
– Award-winning screenwriter William Goldman struggled with his fourth feature screenplay when he suffered “the most serious attack of writer’s block I had ever experienced.” Desperate, he locked himself away for five days in an isolated cabin in Aspen. While there, he wrote something new every morning until finally breaking through his creative barrier. What emerged was the screenplay for Butch Cassidy And The Sundance Kid. It won him two Oscars and became one of the best-loved films ever!
– Canadian novelist Margaret Atwood shared that after finishing her first draft of The Handmaid’s Tale, she was utterly stuck for three years when attempting to start her subsequent work, Oryx & Crake. She realized she had written herself into a corner, so she took some time out for traveling, which enabled her to free up her imagination enough to finish the story in 2003.
– A famous romance author said she got stuck in the writing process after writing three books in her series. She began going on long walks around her neighborhood and visiting local coffee shops with her laptop. This helped jumpstart new ideas as she would observe people interacting or other exciting things happening around her that could lead to storylines or conflicts for her characters.
– A fantasy writer who initially started writing his novel struggled against writer’s block halfway through the second chapter. He decided he needed a different tactic than traditional outlining or plotting techniques by playing music while typing away at his keyboard—he found that sounds from nature, such as birds singing and waves crashing, had the power to break him free from his mental chains and imagine epic worlds full of magic and adventure!
Talk it out
Don’t forget to find inspiration from people who understand your struggles—talking things out with other writers facing similar barriers can often provide helpful insight and advice on how they’ve pushed through their blocks before—which could do the trick for you too! Plus, it can give you an outside point of view to help refine and improve your work.
Different approaches to cure writer’s block
Raymond Chandler suffered from persistent bouts of writer’s block, leading him across continents searching for inspiration. Yet, he felt relieved when faced with intense pressure due to tight deadlines imposed by publishers during his career as a screenwriter and novelist, as this forced him back into productivity mode.
Jhumpa Lahiri was so blocked with her work in progress that she couldn’t write a single sentence for years. She eventually decided to start over and wrote The Lowland, a bestseller novel, in just nine months!
Ernest Hemingway famously said, “Write drunk; edit sober.” While this quote may not suit everyone, there’s evidence that drinking alcohol can reduce anxiety while writing and help avoid mental roadblocks when writing creatively.
Read other authors’ works
If you feel your mind is blank, read other authors whose work inspired you. This can help give you the motivation and inspiration to get your own creative juices flowing once again. Sometimes building off existing projects or following prompts found online helps spark new ideas for jumpstarting stalled storylines or plot points without wasting too much time reinventing the wheel.
JK Rowling once shared that while writing Harry Potter, she was under severe pressure as potential financial security rested heavily upon its success or failure, so unfortunately suffered writer’s block along with depression throughout much of 1997 until finally finding relief within herself through rediscovering the joy of reading again—and thankfully salvaging one of our generation’s most excellent series ever written!
If all else fails
If all else fails, picking a different writing tool, taking pen and paper, then going outdoors and engaging in activities such as exploring nature, journaling, or even going for walks often helps clear stagnant ideas so you feel energized and motivated upon returning home, ready to start writing.
Here are a few inspiring stories about writer’s block
Ray Bradbury, who wrote the classic novel Fahrenheit 451, used to have a terrible condition called “temporary creative paralysis,” which would often prevent him from writing altogether. One day, he came up with a solution to overcome his writer’s block—he created a “magic finger.” He decided that each morning he was going to write one page for an hour before doing anything else. This finger became his muse, and it helped him focus on the task of handwriting! His habit lasted nearly 70 years and produced countless beloved works of literature.
JK Rowling famously suffered writer’s block while writing Harry Potter and The Goblet of Fire—the fourth installment in her beloved fantasy series. She borrowed an idea from author Robert Galbraith (another pen name) to get back on track, giving her character Hagrid a reason to visit Hogwarts during one scene. This idea turned out so well that Rowling included him as a recurring character in all subsequent books!
After theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking was diagnosed with motor neuron disease at the age of 21, he found himself unable to continue working on his Ph.D. thesis for Cambridge University due to a lack of concentration, disorganized thought processes, and difficulty forming sentences—familiar symptoms for anyone who has experienced writer’s block. His experience is proof that even achieving the highest levels in reading, thinking, and writing doesn’t guarantee immunity against writer’s block.
Overall, countless more stories from other successful authors demonstrate how they thoughtfully confronted their writer’s blocks head-on, allowing them to progress further into productive careers outside of previously imagined possibilities. Suppose anyone has ever felt stuck because they lack motivation or creative spark. In that case, hopefully, these wonderful examples will give someone hope that getting unstuck is achievable no matter how debilitating your current experience might seem at first!
If you’re struggling with writer’s block, don’t despair—there is hope! Draw inspiration from others’ success stories and try different strategies until you find something that works for you; then, keep going until you reach your goal.
When conquering any writing project, the key is to break it into smaller, manageable pieces. Writing something completely different, changing your environment, and discussing your ideas can often help overcome writer’s block. If you need more inspiration after trying all of that, read over some of your favorite authors’ work to get the creative juices flowing again.
And if all else fails, don’t be afraid to introduce a villain character—they might be the creative push you need! So whatever you do, please don’t give up on writing, and always remember that it’s possible to beat writer’s block with hard work and dedication.
Thank you for taking the time to read. May you find success and joy in all that you create.
If you’re working on your first novel and are looking for more help with your writing, please check out my other articles at https://ullahakanson.com/blog/
Best of luck with your writing!