How to Take on Writer’s Block like a Pro

Posted by: Emily Wenstrom  :  Category: Writer's Block

I don’t believe in writer’s block. I’ve worked in marketing for five years, and one thing you learn very quickly is that business doesn’t stop just because your muse doesn’t show up.

When an idea is required, one way or another, you create one. It’s got nothing to do with innate talent. Marketing professionals are no more creative than anyone else, they’ve just learned tricks of the trade to help them work through creative blocks.

How do creative professionals keep their creativity flowing in the face of tight deadlines, burnout and Monday mornings? Here are five tactics I’ve adopted from my marketing experience to keep my WIP moving forward even when I feel drained:

Write anything.
Anything at all. Sometimes I go so far as to re-type my existing notes or write out the complaints running through my head: “I hate my desk. It’s so sunny out, how can I be stuck in here?” Just get those fingers moving. By making your body go through the motions, you can get your brain back on track. I rarely get through more than five minutes of this before it turns into real, constructive, creative writing.

Change your medium.
Most of the time I do my writing on the computer screen. But if the words stop flowing, I pick up a pencil. I’m often surprised at the ideas that come to me when I do this. Other variations of this tactic include switching to a typewriter, writing with your non-dominant hand, or even drawing.

Put some music on.
Listening to music stimulates the right hemisphere of your brain. Once I learned this, I started putting my headphones on when I felt a creative rut creeping up on me. After turning up the tunes, I quickly got caught in the flow of my work, sometimes for a few hours at a time. For a gal with ADD who is constantly craving stimulation, that’s pretty darn good. I recommend classical or jazz for this—no music with words. The only words you want bouncing around between your ears are the ones you’re putting on the page.

On a fresh, blank page, write out the problem that has you blocked in the form of an open-ended question: “How do I introduce my side character?” or, “What clue does my hero need to propel her into the next scene?” Then for at least five minutes, write out every idea that comes to you, from the brilliant to the disastrously awful. When you’re done, you’ll have a myriad of options to choose from, and you’re bound to feel charged up and ready to write.

Time it.
Another great way to coax the words out from hiding is to make it a small commitment. Tell yourself you only have to try for 20, 10 or even just five minutes. Set a timer. Sometimes when you feel blocked the promise that you can stop soon is all you need to relieve the pressure. Your brain relaxes and starts opening up. When using this method, I’ve never actually been ready to stop when the timer dings.

Whatever you do, don’t give up. Whether you’re feeling it or not, the creativity is always in you. Sometimes it just takes more effort—or, really, just a different kind of effort—to lure it out.

But it’s always there, waiting to be put to use.

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29 Responses to “How to Take on Writer’s Block like a Pro”

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    […] by Necessary Writers and check out my guest post about how to take on writer’s block like a pro. And then check out the rest of the site—Birgitte and the Necessary Writers crew post great […]

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    Excellent blog post. I certainly love this site. Keep writing!

  3. Laura Marcella Says:

    These are powerful block busters! I don’t believe in writer’s block, either. It’s often an excuse for some other lingering issue the writer doesn’t want to deal with, like fear or a plot hole or boredom with the story. The best way to push through all that is to sit down and write!

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