by Jonathan Hedrick


Imagine that perfect afternoon when your schedule is somehow free from the chaos and anarchy of life. You’re finally able to carve out some time to do a little bit of writing (but hopefully a lot). The laptop is booting up, and your favorite mug has fresh coffee poured inside. You interlace your fingers to give them a good stretch and prepare for all the typing you’re about to get done. The keys rest gently under your fingertips awaiting a flood of words to pour out and then… nothing happens. This is what we call writer’s block, and it’s a common occurrence that even the most experienced scribes are plagued with from time to time.


Suffering from Writer's Block


What do you do about it? For starters, don’t ask yourself how to avoid writer’s block. Instead, prepare for this phenomenon with a variety of tools that I will discuss here. Keep in mind, one method may work for one writer but not the next. There’s no definitive solution because it varies on a case-by-case scenario. Also, what worked for you last time might not work the next. However, it’s extremely important to remember that you’re not alone in this. It’s possible to combat writer’s block on your own, but never hesitate to ask for help!


...it’s a common occurrence that even the most experienced scribes are plagued with from time to time.


My first tip to treating this vexing experience is to do something else. Yes, anything else other than writing. The worst thing you can do is force your craft. Believe me, it will show in the finished product. Sometimes, walking away is the best solution. For example, have you ever struggled with a crossword puzzle clue so much that you put it aside just for it to immediately click once you picked it back up again? Perhaps a more modern example, at the risk of dating myself further, is thinking of that difficult boss at the end of the level of your favorite video game you just can’t pass. You throw the controller down in defeat but eventually return to it and save the princess from the evil beast. You didn’t quit or give up. You only took a break, and that’s what you needed. The same can work for writer’s block. Step away from the computer and come back later.

The second piece of advice for alleviating this ailment is to get inspired to write. Avoid going to the keyboard cold. This could mean you need to explore another medium of entertainment beyond the one you’re used to. For example, if you’re a comic book writer, chances are you have a stack of comics you haven’t read yet at your disposal. We’re all guilty of this! If chipping away at your to-read pile isn’t working, then try a novel, movie, music, etc. As a comic book writer, most of my inspiration comes organically from other sources besides comics. Keep searching for that inspiration. Then, when you feel that creative energy coming back to you, put your ideas down as soon as possible. Take advantage of that motivating force while you can.




Next, it’s time to recommend something that actually involves writing to free yourself of this block. I’ve already suggested doing something else and trying a different forum other than your comfortable wheelhouse. Now, we’re going to combine these tips by writing in another channel outside your norm. For instance, instead of staring at a blank screen while trying to type your new legendary comic book, write a review of someone else’s latest issue. You might find this exercise a little challenging and gain more respect for those who review comics on a regular basis. Two birds, one stone! 


You didn’t quit or give up. You only took a break, and that’s what you needed.


Another approach to remedy writer’s block is to give yourself deadlines. Chances are you might already have a delivery date from your publisher, editor, instructor, etc. Regardless, set one ahead for yourself as a private goal. I say this not to be an overachiever but to keep yourself on track! After all, it might not be creativity or inspiration that you’re lacking. You could just need more discipline. It hurts to hear that sometimes. You could take your chances by cramming at the final hour or, instead, keep a schedule with small obtainable tasks along the way. Hold yourself accountable and set goals, even if it’s just one page a day. Also, don’t forget to reward yourself regularly. Take breaks and refill that coffee mug. You’ve earned it!

My final piece of advice is to not stress out over writer’s block. That internal critic sometimes gets the best of us. We fear that we’re not good enough or compare ourselves to others. Remember that your first draft is exactly that, step one of many steps ahead of you. Get it out of the way. Write freely without worrying about if it’s good or not. You can always change it later. Not sure what should happen next? Skip that chapter and go to the next one. If you don’t know how to finish a confrontation between two characters, maybe it wasn’t necessary to begin with. The best material usually comes when you’ve pushed yourself through a challenging section, and if it’s not challenging, you could be repeating something you’ve already used. Plus, you can always edit something later.


"Write down everything that happens in the story, and then in your second draft make it look like you knew what you were doing all along." - Neil Gaiman



There’s an infinite number of causes for writer’s block just as there is an equal number of remedies. Not being able to write can be an emotional time for a writer. Don’t beat yourself up. Some of the most seasoned writers are impacted by this wall. I hope the ideas I’ve discussed might serve as a beginning to tearing down your own creative blockage. As I mentioned before, you’re not alone in this. Don’t be too proud to put a call out for some assistance. One of your peers could be going through it as well, but you could tear down the walls of writer’s block together!

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