Seven Ways You Can Beat Writer’s Block
Writer’s block hits the active, experienced writer, attacking their momentum and drive. When it does, the blow can cause discouragement and frustration, and in my case, a bit of soul searching. So, in this blog, I’ve detailed seven ways that you can beat writer’s block.
Plateau. As defined by Oxford Languages, the verb form means to reach a state of little or no change after a period of activity or progress. In the writer’s world, this is often called writer’s block. Creativity dries up. Characters go silent. Plots may stall. Dialogue may bore the writer. Research resembles a burden.
Six years into my indie writing career, I experienced a plateau. I felt it coming on as I struggled through my manuscript at the time. I thought I was tired from juggling full-time ministry, family, and writing. I expected the imminent release of that manuscript to energize me. That expectation turned inside out. I never anticipated the unproductive slump I fell into and the time of pondering if my writing days were done, even as I held my latest novel in my hand.
The experience altered my perspective on writer’s block and led me to conclusions: Writer’s block is not the same as the slowness of starting a book or article. Slowness is usually momentum getting underway or the fear of simply starting. Writer’s block is not being stuck on plot direction or character trait or that fourth paragraph—those scenarios are part of the writing process. Writer’s block is simply a static period which you are fully capable of escaping.
Should you experience a debilitating plateau, the following may help you through writer’s block.
1. Keep Writing
Like any unused muscle, a writer who is not writing can atrophy. Consider the following ideas for writing despite your mental block:
- Create your own blog or sign-up to write for other organizations or bloggers.
- Write out of your genre. If you are a fiction writer, try your hand at a topical article and vice versa.
- Here are some good tips for journaling: How Journaling Can Boost Writer Focus and Clarity | CIPA (christianpublishers.net)
- Free write. Pound the keys and type whatever comes to mind.
- Try your hand at writing in a different POV than your go-to.
- Use a story starter and write with no pressure.
- Create a short story as a prelude to your published work or as a seasonal piece.
- If you cannot peel your eyes from your current work in progress, then write, but be courageous enough to toss poor quality results.
Writing and reading are habits which fuels you. When words are not flowing, continue to read—but with a twist.
- Read outside of your genre for pleasure or to get out of your reading rut.
- Volunteer through your networks to beta read for other writers.
- Attempt to schedule a reading at the local library or Assisted Living Home.
- Read and study a book, topic, or word in the Bible.
3. Study the Craft
Use this time of low productivity to learn. Writing demands output which can drain the emotions or thought processes of a tired writer. Studying the craft can hydrate the dried-out places created by the busyness of writing. Varieties of options exist to learn the craft, many of which are offered through CIPA.
- Listen to podcasts for writers.
- Subscribe to a writer magazine or new blog.
- Read a book in an area you want to improve your writer skills.
- Take an online or in-person course on writing skills, marketing, or other tools of the trade.
- Learn a writing or formatting program. Jason Sisam offers advice on learning Scrivener: A Guide to Using Scrivener: A Writing Software for Authors (christianpublishers.net).
- Attend a writer’s conference.
4. Stay Connected
A writer who is blocked may feel embarrassment over low productivity. Often writers can fall into the comparison trap. Both scenarios can cause you to alienate from other writers or from our readers who are eagerly awaiting the next book or article. Isolation for reflection can be beneficial, but isolation due to negative emotions will become unhealthy. While plateaued, stay in touch with others.
- Join a local or on-line writer or critique group if you have not.
- Keep busy on your social media, intentionally making posts that encourage interaction.
- Collaborate with other authors for a book signing or written piece.
- Enter qualifying work into a contest. Putting your work in front of others keeps a writer networked and often offers good advice. Eva Marie Everson gives good advice on this topic: Why You Should Consider Entering a Book Award Contest | CIPA (christianpublishers.net)
5. Tackle Tasks
Writers know that reaching a word count is barely half of the job. Marketing and business tactics come at the writer from many directions, and in the heat of creativity, some of these tasks are often pushed to the side. Make your plateau productive with other tasks.
- Create or update your website
- Write or fine tune elevator pitches, press kits, query letters, etc.
- Create an imprint or LLC.
- Evaluate your novel detail-tracking or research system.
- Create a trailer.
- Hone your social media skills and plan posts.
- Create a chart or map to track successes.
- Update or reorganize your writing space.
There are times when I stare down the blinking line on my screen, and I feel exhausted. I don’t want to type another word. And that’s okay. Instead, here are ways that I’ve learned to relax:
- Find a change of scenery.
- Watch inspiring movies or documentaries about writers.
- Try another creative outlet to keep your juices flowing.
- Be still. Allow your mind to free itself from the demands of writing and reflect on the joys of creating. Often, ideas come during stillness.
- Contrary to all the above ideas, do something totally unrelated to writing or creating.
The call to write comes from our Creative. Proverbs 16:9 reminds believers that we make plans, but God directs our steps. Ask God to show you His plans and timing for your writing. Betty A. Rodgers-Kulich addresses God’s timing in this blog: Learn to Wait on God’s Timing | Christian Indie Publishing Association (christianpublishers.net)
Acknowledge the frailty of the human mind and body and pause to write in His strength. As stated in Psalm 103:14, God knows our frame, yet He chooses to work and create through us. Pray that your writing is always for His glory.
The key to a writer’s block is to acknowledge it and work in it while you get through it. Any of the suggestions above could be misused to neglect the task at hand. Consider them temporary tools while waiting for the writer’s block to crumble. A Christian writer may plateau, but until God’s Spirit whispers, “Done,” there are words meant to come from that individual and no one else.
I Thessalonians 5:24 (NASB) says, “Faithful is He who calls you, and He also will bring it to pass.”
About the Author
Kim Williams writes Christian Romance. For many years, she had a desire to write. One day, she met her story head on, and she started making words into sentences, sentences into paragraphs, and paragraphs into chapters. She testifies to the fact it is never too late in life to start writing.
Kim resides in the North Metro Atlanta area with her husband near their two children and their families. She has led Ministry to Children for thirty-plus years. Learn more about her books on her website.