Writer’s Block Tricks

Writer’s Block Tricks

Today’s blog is a guest post from Pamela Merritt, who offers advice on how to get around writer’s block. Visit Pamela at her popular blog and check out her book on Amazon. Take it away, Pamela!


Yes, we can break a Writer’s Block with tricks. We want to trick our minds into cooperating. Why aren’t our minds cooperating now? Don’t they want to be “on the same page”?

Sure, they do. We might be the one blocking them. Here’s some common things we do to ourselves.

Too much pressure

Sometimes, it’s our mindset. If we are struggling with anxiety or depression, this can preoccupy our thinking abilities.

Since this is an energy problem, we trick our minds. ONE paragraph, sentence, or word. That’s all we ask.

Because asking our brains for creative work often gets translated, via longing, as a completed piece, and brilliant, and as soon as possible.

Stop it. Instead, we’ll settle, for anything. Much less pressure. This is, even when conditions are bad, do-able.

Not laying the groundwork

Our imagination does not work on demand. We need to give it stuff to play with, too. If this is the angle which gets us blocked, we aren’t using our time away from writing in useful ways.

Even a busy professional day has its moments and breaks. From smart phone to notepad and pen, we have note-taking/brainstorming tools we can use in minutes. Opt for an app or hunt down a stunning journal with matching pen. Make it special, and only for creative work.

Even when we don’t have time to write, we always have time to think. Notes, anywhere, can happen with the smallest segment of time and the thinnest of motivations. Use fridge magnets for a stunning sentence. Let it sit there, marinating.

This helps us defeat the blank page by starting with notes. Type it in, or paste from our file. We’ve started already!

Stripping the gears

People who encounter writer’s block usually mean Drafter’s Block. We don’t complain of Editor’s Block, because that’s an activity we do with analysis, grammar checking, and looking up spelling. No one needs inspiration for that.

But our imagination is that small child who wants to play. If we are trying to edit while they are trying to play, it’s like taking a toddler to the grocery store. Where no one has a good time.

I think of my writing brain as I do a small child. I adore them when they are cooperative. Their chubby arms create a hug. My heart feels fuzzy and warm. But other times they throw a tantrum and scream. Then we want to run off and leave them there.

It’s all in how we handle them. We must coax, not compel. It must be presented as something fun, of the kind they are in the mood for.

Play is the opposite of pressure. That’s when the magic happens.

Getting in a rut

Another angle could be setting. Geographic cure explains the popularity of coffee shop, library table, or park bench writing. I’m a fan. We’re there, but we’re not. Because no one here has business with us, unless we initiate it.

When we feel blocked, those housekeeping tasks take on a golden glow. Because we know we can at least do something. But trying-to-write is also an important task.

It’s not as much fun as actually writing? There’s your problem.

Trying-to-write is when we do our thinking. Because if we knew what to write we’d write it. But figuring out what we want to write is also, even if it’s frustrating, writing.

Another angle to the geographic approach could be our writing medium. If the thought of another blank page in our word processing program makes us want to scream, try longhand on legal pads, or dictation, or one of the many online writing services. Many are free, or have a free option, and just looking at a different screen has done wonders for me.

Social Support

I write with cats around. Our pets can be an unsuspected resource. We know they are listening. We know they are not going to be scornful or critical. We know they care.

So use them as a sounding board. They will enjoy it. We will discover that speaking our thoughts helps us organize them.

Writing can be a lonely task, but things like music or a snoozing pet can help with that.

Delight of having-written

As annoying as the block is, it’s also trying to tell us something. If we listen, we might break it or get around it.

In any case, the message is always worth hearing. We might not yet be ready. This might be a time for multiple projects. Keeping something always in progress lets us choose from outlining, drafting, editing, or polishing modes.

These are all different, and distinct, states of creativity. Pick one to match our mood, and we might get more work done.

This helps us sit down with our creative impulses, and promise them a good time.


Pamela Merritt has a cat advice book out, The Way of Cats, and is editing a second one in the series. She’s drafting a cozy mystery and outlining one horror novel, while polishing another.

Favorite tools are Scrivener, MindMeister, and Writer, the internet typewriter. She’s been known to use speech to text for breaking a block. Now that’s a rough draft.

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