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10 Tips for Managing Writer's Block

Updated: Jan 25

Rolling ocean waves at sunset
@katstanophotography on iPhone

1. Instead of a "blank page," think of it as an "oasis of possibility."

Your brand new document or unfinished manuscript is no longer a stark, empty house with a few idea knickknacks here and there. It's a minimalist retreat with all the space in the world for amazing, new art to be displayed and to SHINE. Can you picture it? I'm also seeing an oceanfront view. Nice choice, you.

And that relentless cursor blinking, blinking, blinking?

That's your new friend, jumping up and down, so excited to see what you write next.

2. Close your laptop and take a break.

This post features Amazon Associates affiliate marketing links, which is a fancy way of saying as an Amazon affiliate I earn from qualifying purchases...which is another fancy way of saying I might get paid a small amount of money if you click on one of those links and make a purchase at no extra cost to you. Fun fact: These are all products I believe in.

10 tips for taking a writing break and managing all of your writer's block dilemmas:

  • Stretch.

  • Go for a walk.

  • Call someone you love.

  • Watch a funny clip or show.

  • Read.

  • Have a snack.

  • Take a trip to Amazon and treat yourself OR someone special. I literally would like to treat myself to this (the lift-top table of my dreams!) but I'm sure it'll be more like this (my favorite Bamboo toilet paper).*

  • Pet your sweet, sweet doggie or kitty cat.

  • Get out a coloring book and color your heart out! I personally recommend Color Me Swoon: The Beefcake Activity Book for Good Color-Inners as Well as Beginners by Mel Elliott. I'm not saying you NEED this, but I'm not saying you do not NOT NEED this. Warning: Subject matter may contain lots of hotness but just enough that it gets you out of your writing rut and puts you in a much lighter mood.

  • Pray. (Not a last resort, of course, but a good one.)

Just getting away from the desk (or couch!) can unlock parts of our creativity that seem to be stuck when we're just going in circles in front of our screens.

This post features affiliate marketing links, which is a fancy way of saying I might get paid a small amount of money if you click on one of those links and make a purchase at no extra cost to you. Fun fact: These are all products I believe in.

*Don't get me wrong, bamboo toilet paper is awesome and sustainable AND a privilege that not everyone is able to afford. Plus, I LOVE Betterway products. I just really want that glorious lift-top coffee table!

3. Remind yourself of how you overcame writer's block in the past.

What about the last time you didn't feel that writerly sparkle?* How did you overcome it to go on to write your genius editorial?

If the list above doesn't help, remember that YOU KNOW YOU best.

4. Ask your creative friends how they get through a writing lull.

Having other writers, artists, and musicians in our inner circles is good for the heart. Why? Because not everyone understands the sensitive, quirky, passion-filled creativity that pours from our souls. Not everyone gets the painstaking attention to detail we put into our work or the sudden awe we find ourselves in when we see the MOST AMAZING TREE. (For a lot of people, it's sunsets. And, yes, I adore me a good sunset. But I also happen to have a thing for trees.)

Not everyone sees the world like a poet or dreamer––and that's okay. BUT, we need those fellow romantics to keep us encouraged.

Find your creative counterparts. Support each other. Believe in each other.

You won't regret it.

5. Play music.

This is where it gets very customizable! Sometimes we need a gentle piano melody cascading over lazy ocean waves. Other times, it's Cyndi Lauper all the way. (Friends, one day, I'll tell you the story of my Cyndi Lauper birthday cake. It rocked my world. But not in the way you'd think.)

When no other tips seem to work, try managing your writer's block with playlists of 10-15 songs each you can dance to, chill to, or even nap to. Music can reenergize our brains, plus it's just fun. (I'm sure Cyndi would agree!)

6. Look up some writing prompts.

There are many resources online for finding thought-provoking prompts! Do a search on "writing prompts for writer's block" and all kinds of resources pop up. You might even find a favorite new blogger or writing coach! (But I know I'll always have a special place in your heart!)

One book I recommend is 5,000 WRITING PROMPTS: A Master List of Plot Ideas, Creative Exercises, and More by Bryn Donovan. One of my former writing colleagues, Bryn has a wonderful imagination and love for storytelling. Check it out!

7. Ugly-write and don't stop to self-edit.

This is also more commonly called freewriting, a stream-of-consciousness type of technique that keeps the words flowing, no matter how bad they are! If I ever show you my most undesirable drafts, I could prove this to you! I've written some good stuff. But also some BAD stuff. You've got to get the crappy writing out so that the great writing can shimmer and shine.

If you're too tired to even write sentences, try run-on phrases or lists.

If you think out loud, try voice recording what you want to say.

8. Sip some water.

Sometimes our bodies just need to be nourished. One of my friends uses a water bottle that helps her keep track of her daily intake. This is a smart idea for those of us who get busy and forget to hydrate.

I'm no doctor or scientist (and I know the universe thanks me frequently for this), but water helps our thinking processes and memory...or so I've heard! Do your own research as to how much you should imbibe each day!

9. Meet a friend for coffee or share a meal together.

A comforting friend session might be just what you need!

Introvert much? Do a FaceTime call in your pajamas with your bestie or family member who's the least likely to annoy you.

And, hey! Your bestie or family member could be your fur child, so get out their bowl and get out your bowl and eat together! I know most of my dinner dates are with my schnoodle. She's the best company, even when she's constantly whining for me to share. Who's the cutest whiner in your life? Ask them to lunch!

10.  Write a list of rough phrases and ideas that you can start fresh on tomorrow.

Early on in my career a writing colleague with whom I shared a birthday (funny, since our job was to write birthday cards!) gave me this advice.

She said to quickly write out some concepts, beginnings, endings, or loose ideas at the end of the day. This way, they could dance around in my subconscious overnight and be ready to explore in the morning.

It's been 20 years now and somehow her advice still pops up in my mind a lot. That right there is the power of words, people!

What we have to say matters.

Do you have any tips for managing writer's block? Please share in the comments!

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