Overcoming Writer’s Block: 7 Great Tips for Getting Over the Hill

01 Apr 2022


“It’s not the fear of writing that blocks people. It’s fear of not writing well; something quite different.” — Scott Berkun

All writers inevitably face the dreaded writer’s block phenomenon. Whether they like it or not, writers must deal with tough periods in which nothing seems to flow.

There are times when staring at a computer screen or a blank sheet of paper seems to last an eternity. However, writer’s block is not always about lacking something to say. It’s about fear. The fear of not properly articulating things.

To overcome writer’s block, it is crucial to focus on your message. Having a clear message will help make the language come out. Of course, there are times when rewrites are necessary. But that is merely a part of the process. The main point is to keep going despite the fear of “not writing well.”

Here are seven tried and true tips to overcome writer’s block. These tips will ensure readers get the message loud and clear.

7 Great Tips for Overcoming Writer’s Block

1. Create a comfortable workspace.

A comfortable workspace can mean the difference between writer’s block and turbocharged productivity.

Various factors go into creating a comfortable workspace. For instance, a cluttered, messy desk can become a distraction.

In contrast, a clear desk can boost productivity by creating a distraction-free zone.

Other key factors include room temperature, background noise, and lighting. Furnishings such as desks, chairs, and keyboards also greatly impact writer’s block.

In short, the more comfortable the workplace, the easier writing becomes.

The time of day can also become a significant factor in writer’s block.

Morning people may struggle writing at night. In contrast, a night owl may find it virtually impossible to get anything done in the morning. Therefore, finding the most comfortable time to write is pivotal in overcoming writer’s block.

2. Block distractions.

Nowadays, distractions abound.

Anything from a cluttered desk and poor room lighting, to constant incoming calls or the incessant chirping of notifications can foster writer’s block.

Highly productive writers find that getting rid of distractions enables them to focus better and get more done.

After all, getting into the so-called 'zone' requires unfettered focus.— Focus that can't be achieved with constant distractions making it hard to concentrate.

And when the mind cannot concentrate, writer’s block can easily creep in.

A 2012 article in the Harvard Business Review highlights this assertion. In essence, individuals cannot expect to be truly successful without finding their “flow.” However, achieving that state of heightened focus requires the removal of distractions. Getting into that mental state requires time to calm the mind and focus.

A great way to keep distractions at bay is the use of distraction-blocking apps. These apps temporarily mute notifications, restrict access to social media sites, or filter content (emails, calls, or messages). Removing distractions can be the single most powerful tool in fighting writer’s block.

3. Become a creature of habit.

Some of the best writers believe in the power of habit. Building consistent routines help keep the mind sharp and focused. This approach helps writers feel comfortable, thereby boosting their time in “the zone.”

Nobel Laureate John Steinbeck once noted, “In writing, habit seems to be a much stronger force than either willpower or inspiration.”

Indeed, inspiration is a key factor in effective writing. Likewise, writing requires willpower to get things done.

These two factors, however, pale in comparison to habit. Inspiration and willpower can only go so far. Consistency and routine help build great literary works one word at a time.

Great writing habits include working simultaneously, devoting a specific period, sitting at the same place, and taking scheduled breaks. While it is not necessary to work for hours on end every day, it is paramount to maximize output during productive periods, whenever they happen to be.

4. Use writing prompts.

Often, the hardest part of writing is the first word. Jotting down that first word can open the floodgates. The challenge, however, is unlocking that literary deluge. Writing prompts can serve as catalysts to unleash creativity.

Writing prompts are a common device in school. Teachers typically use a few words to introduce the topic for students to write.

For instance, prompts like 'write about the best day of your life in 300 words or less' serve to delineate what students must produce.

Similarly, professional writers can use prompts to help them guide efforts.

Legendary writer Ernest Hemingway used prompts consistently. He would narrow his focus down to a specific topic and begin writing.

Moreover, Hemingway would usually stop writing mid-sentence. This practice enabled him to pick up from where he left off.

According to personal accounts, Hemingway felt it was harder to start fresh than to complete an ongoing idea or discussion.

Indeed, writing prompts can help writers overcome writer’s block. This strategy helps reduce distraction while enabling writers to get past the roadblocks keeping them from penning their ideas.

5. Accept flaws.

The fear of writing often stems from the fear of making mistakes. In other words, writers often seek to be “perfect.” Thus, a common attitude is to produce flawless language and narrative from the start. The reality, though, is much different.

To begin with, there is no such thing as perfect writing. All writing work is subject to improvement.

Professional writers understand that editors can help them boost their use of language, find factual inaccuracies, and assist in crafting the right approach for the intended target audience.

Writers ought to accept that their work is always prone to improvement. The challenge then becomes not to take things personally.

Instead, one must keep an open mind and accept suggestions and helpful criticism.

If constructive observations mean rewriting parts of the text or furthering research, then so be it.

Ultimately, letting go of the need to be perfect can significantly boost overcoming writer’s block.

6. Read as much as possible.

Common wisdom suggests that great writers are avid readers.

This logic assumes that good writers can use others’ work to draw inspiration.

Indeed, reading can help burst through writer’s block.

Reading consistently helps writers find new ways to articulate their ideas. The aim, of course, is not to piggyback on others’ work.

Quite the contrary.

Being an avid reader aims to help writers become more attuned to how other writers approach their craft.

This practice is akin to what professional athletes do when observing other top athletes.

There is always an opportunity to learn something that can help them improve their game.

7. Avoid acknowledging it.

Acknowledging writer’s block creates an unfavorable predisposition. It signals to the writer that there’s something “wrong.”

After all, writer’s block is not a good thing.

While it may be impossible to ignore it completely, focusing on it can fix one’s mind on the block. This fixation only enhances the block itself.

There are times when the best thing a writer can do is get up and do something else.

Common practices include exercise, meditation, or merely switching to another activity.

When the mind obsesses with getting things done, the attention placed on writer’s block only increases. Therefore, a great remedy to overcome writer’s block is to forget about it. Letting go helps liberate the mind. Eventually, ideas will begin flowing again.

How can a ghostwriter help overcome writer’s block?

Unfortunately, writer’s block can delay or even derail writing projects. There are instances in which writers cannot seem to get over the hill. This seeming inability to move a project forward may cause significant frustration and disappointment.

Here is where a professional ghostwriter can make a huge impact.

A professional ghostwriter can support writers struggling with writer’s block in several ways.

First, a professional ghostwriter can assist a writer by acting as a coach.

Professional ghostwriters can share their tips and strategies for overcoming writer’s block.

The benefit of their experience can help struggling writers develop their coping strategies.

Second, professional ghostwriters can produce parts or text. For instance, a writer stuck on a particular topic can seek help producing that content. The writer can then resume working on the remainder of the project.

Third, a ghostwriter can tackle an entire project. In this approach, a writer can take a step back to catch their breath and collect their thoughts. Meanwhile, the ghostwriter can set about producing the remaining content.

In the end, enlisting the help of a professional ghostwriter can mean the difference between a project stuck in neutral and getting it off the ground once and for all.

One Final Thought…

Writers should not fear writer’s block. It is an unfortunate part of being a writer. Thus, overcoming writer’s block is about developing the right set of strategies that can facilitate dealing with writer’s block when it occurs. By having adequate strategies, writers can reduce their anxiety, and most importantly, focus on doing what they do best.

Zach Richter 

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