How to Tackle Writer's Block

In the introduction to his book, Pure Drivel, Steve Martin says that he decided to give himself a few years off from working, and in that time, ended up writing several plays, a series of sketches, and two screenplays. The point is, he let himself do exactly what he wanted, and it ended up being one of the most productive times in his career.

In the writer, Clark Knowles' article "How I Quit Writing to Save My Life," he talks about implementing a similar tactic.

Once Knowles decided to "quit writing" he actually became inspired again.

For many writers, internal and external expectations can inhibit our ability to produce good work. Either we put the pressure on ourselves (i.e.: we are determined to write a novel, we know we have it in us, etc) or the pressure it put upon us (i.e.: we have a book contract that must be fulfilled in three months and we are behind, behind, behind!).

If you're suffering from writer's block, consider taking a similar time out. Try to get back to what you love to write, or even just back to that basic love of writing. It's often when writing becomes too much of a job that we start to have problems writing. What you write for fun might actually end up being your best work.

Because many writers began their writing journey by "escaping" through words, another way to bring oneself back to that initial wonder and fascination of the art is to journal or start a diary.

By taking away the audience, and simply writing - one again - for ourselves, we can often regain that early inspiration, and (hopefully) incorporate it into our other work.

Another way to tackle writer's block is to switch projects. Never be afraid to put your work in a drawer (or a desktop folder).

Just because you aren't working on it at the moment, doesn't mean it has disappeared; just because you aren't inspired by it now, doesn't mean it has left you forever. Sometimes perspective comes from simply getting away from the project and taking on something with less weight, like a short story or piece of flash fiction you've been meaning to write. Completing something new will give you confidence and time, and in turn give you the distance you need to be able to return to your project with fresh eyes.

Many writers are creative in more than one way, but often we put a lot of pressure on ourselves to work hardest within our primary creative outlet. This is especially true if this outlet is the way that we make a living. However, taking a break to paint, film, sing, dance, act, or create in any other way, will only help. 

For more ideas on how to approach your writing differently in order to beat writer's block, there are additional resources.

Find Your Next Job

Job Search by