When a blank page looks back: Six USEFUL tips for combatting writer’s block  

There are no other words for it. I was, quite simply, suffering from writer’s block.

I cannot pretend that there are not already a million and two blogs in existence on how to combat writer’s block. A quick Google search will generate thousands of (some really absurd) ideas, all of which are meant to help you break through that blank page.

Admittedly, I am no expert. I’ll never claim that title. But between writing novels, generating daily copy content for social media, drafting press releases, writing weekly feature stories and monthly blog posts… I can with certainty speak from experience and admit that writer’s block has impacted my productivity from time to time throughout my writing career.

Here’s an example. The other night, I was rounding the corner on completing the first draft of my latest novel, Trusting Love—due for a release date of January 2024. I knew exactly what I needed to write to wrap up the story. Quite literally, my outline stared back at me as the curser blinked in ready anticipation. But the words would not come—and my fingers stalled on the keyboard—unable to conclude the story.

There are no other words for it. I was, quite simply, suffering from writer’s block.

While writer’s block is typically thought of in a negative way, I’m here to tell you that there is inherent value in giving yourself permission to step away from your work in progress. Giving into the block does not have to be deemed “bad”. In fact, it oftentimes leads to a better result (and that’s a blog post for a future rainy day!)  

Nonetheless, writer’s block is a frustrating experience whenever it strikes—oftentimes, unexpectedly. Read on to learn about my six USEFUL tips for combatting writer’s block.

Use a new writing tool: if you’re like me, your primary method for drafting content comes by typing on a laptop. Human brains are fascinating, aren’t they? Utilizing the same tools everyday will trigger the same parts of our brain to activate. But what if I told you that picking up a new writing tool could stimulate a piece of your mind you have not tapped into yet? When I need creative and emotional language, I ditch my laptop and pick up a pen and a notebook. For me, I print on paper slower than I type on a keyboard. This shift in process forces me to slow down and dig deeper—because the words mean more. I can’t endlessly press the backspace key. Tap into the creativity and switch up your tools. Your brain will thank you for change.  

Swap your seat: a desk is a stagnant place and personally, I find it limiting. When seated in front of my large monitors, all I can see is a glaring white Google doc and the knickknacks that adorn my desk. It lacks inspiration. So, when I need a nudge of motivation, the next place I move is to the floor. That’s right. Criss-cross applesauce style. I’m unsure of the science behind it, but the lower-level perspective tends to fuel my brain with new ideas. Not to mention the endless places you can seat yourself—I’ve done some of my best work in the closet!

Erase your last paragraph: you got trapped there for a reason, didn’t you? I fall back on this tactic more than anything. Oftentimes, when I find I’m stuck moving forward in a story, it’s simply because I didn’t do my due diligence and set myself up for success. From a storytelling perspective, each sentence must not only deliver new information, but also set-up the next line with ease.

Free yourself: if an idea is just not coming and a change in seating hasn’t worked, I’ve learned over time not to force it. Rather than giving into the block completely by slamming my laptop closed, I simply choose to refocus and free myself from the problematic piece. Because I write in versatile spaces, it’s second nature for me to switch into another project. My time (like everyone’s!) is valuable, so if the words are not flowing in my novel, I simply stop and free myself from the obligation. Instead, I work on my newsletter, draft content for social media, or work on a blog post. Your time can still be well used until the words are ready to flow.

Use time-blocking: another strategy I employ is to reserve the time on my calendar to write. I work a fulltime job in addition to my career as a novelist. There are only so many hours in the day that can be used to further a story. So, it’s extra frustrating when writer’s block consumes my tiny space. When this this occurs, I simply tell myself, “Okay, but by tomorrow at 8PM, I’ll have a solution to this.” Say it out loud, commit to the goal, and allow your subconscious to do the heavy lifting. 9 times out of ten, I’ll have resolved my own block by the time I sit down the next day.

Learn to fail: and then there’s the failsafe. Simply write a bunch of crap until an idea sticks. For me, I always open a new file because I suffer from high-functioning anxiety. A new document allows my brain the freedom it needs to explore without the confines of my work in progress. This free write is just for me, so I know it’s okay if the words don’t make sense. But truly, it’s amazing what a ten-minute rubbish fest will offer your brain.

And there you have it. From one writer to another, these are my top six USEFUL ways to combat writer’s block. My list is not exhaustive; it’s just what works for me! Please feel free to drop your additions in the comments. After all, writing is a collaborative effort.

Published by julienavickas

Julie Navickas is a nationally recognized contemporary romance novelist with Inkspell Publishing, known for her keen ability to weave heart-wrenching, second-chance love stories through relatable characters with humility, humor, and heroism. She is also an award-winning instructor and academic advisor in the School of Communication at Illinois State University, the public relations manager for Burning Soul Press, the social media strategist for Labyrinth Made Goods, and is a continuing education instructor with Heartland Community College. Julie is a mom to three children: Lily (5); Colton (4); Brady (2), and has been married to her high school sweetheart, Thomas, for ten years.

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