10 Ways to Beat the Dreaded Writer’s Block Like a Pro

Every great writer has at one point experienced a writer's block. It's disappointing, infuriating and frustrating. Having numerous great inspirations and working with it only to get stuck in the middle of it all can really hinder writing progress. It's real, it happens to every single writer but the good news is that as with all things, it's only temporary and is possible to overcome.

1. Do Freewriting
Freewriting is a technique writer use wherein a person writes whatever comes to their mind without regard to spelling, punctuation, grammar, and topic. It's the time to freely write anything. Spending 10 – 15 minutes a day freewriting can relax and free the mind from the norms and standards of writing. The person can even write on a certain preferred topic. Although some results of freewriting do not make sense, this technique allows the mind's wheels to run again and some writers were even able to find new material for their works.

2. Don't Strive for Perfection
Perfectionism can cause fear, fear that anything you write is never good enough. Revisions are made to each paragraph, each word until a masterpiece is achieved. Perfectionism can both be good and bad. It's good in a sense that a writer strives to achieve their best piece of work. It can be a terrible habit because it never gets the work done. In the end, the mind ends up being depleted of good ideas. Save revisions for later editing and just continue to write whatever is on your mind. As you go on, write whatever new idea comes to your mind separately and save that for the later draft. Not worrying whether the idea is cliché, old or new can help fill up a page. Perfectionism, on the other hand, will just create blank pages.

3. Use the Cube Method
Cubing, like freewriting, is another writing technique meant to get a writer through their writer's block. The method uses the six sides of a cube to write about one topic. 

Side 1: Describe the topic – What is it? How can you describe your topic, the ideas, and the issues that arise from it?

Side 2: Compare the topic – What does it have in common with other topics? Is it different from something you've written before?

Side 3: Associate it – What can be identified with the topic? How does it identify with other topics? Is it something you have worked on before

Side 4: Analyze it – Can the topic be broken into parts?

Side 5: Apply it – How is the topic used? Who are the users?

Side 6: Defend it – What do you like or not like about the topic? Why do you have to use it or why don't you use the idea?

The challenge is to spend only 3 – 5 minutes per side of the cube. Looking at the responses, it should give an idea of how to further expand a topic or create a completely new idea for writing.

4. Find Your Golden Hour
All great writers had their own routines. It's something unique to each individual and something that works for them. Ernest Hemingway loved writing in the mornings. He was quoted as saying that he worked as soon as the first light possible. Haruki Murakami gets up at 4:00 am and works for five to six hours. Find a time that works for you and create a routine that creates balance. There should be a time for play and a time for work to be able to clear and rest the mind for new ideas.

5. Read Up on Different Niches
While writing about a certain topic and getting inspired by reading books on the same niche makes sense, it doesn't hurt to dive into other genres and varying subjects as well. Reading fiction, history, cookbooks, health magazines, romance, and poems can truly inspire some ideas. The idea sounds far-fetched but it works for some writers. Furthermore, don't worry about rewriting some of the ideas gathered from other works. Plagiarizing is one thing, rewriting it and adding your own inputs, insights, arguments, and experiences is completely different.

6. Find Ideas from People Around You
There's bound to be interesting people around you every day who seem to do peculiar things or have a strange habit. Even the most boring person can turn into an interesting character for a story. Writing about friends and exaggerating some of their characteristics or making up a story for friends or acquaintances you haven't heard from a long time can become a thrilling mystery story.

Eavesdropping, which is a terrible habit, but will come in handy as a source of inspiration for ideas can help create different scenarios. People from the past like the scary and strict professor can become a villain in a story. Neighbors, people from work, people you meet every day, the friendly baker and so on can all be great sources of inspiration for your next work.

This also applies to everyday objects and even animals and plants. Charlotte's web was inspired by a spider and Winnie the Pooh was taken from A.A. Milne's son's stuffed bear. Even the most innocent object like a Q-tip can have so many possibilities with a whimsical mindset.

7. Find Ideas from Current Affairs
With so many happening all around the world each day, the news offers so many wonderful possibilities for interesting topics. Keeping up to date with the current news both local and international will not only make you aware of what's happening around you but also might be the source of your next story.

Take note of politicians who could become your next characters, alter some backgrounds of the news, create your own endings, twist and turn some elements or change some details and find out how that will make an impact on the story.

8. Mix Up Different Topics
Writing doesn't always have to be on a single topic. Mixing up different ideas can create variety and wild, interesting stories that can be an adventure, mystery, comedy, romance or a children's story. Suzan Collins inspiration for The Hunger Games was a combination of watching contestants on a show competing for a prize and a footage of the war in Iraq. How's that for an idea? Some ways to mix up topics are:

- Mixing different story elements – What if George Washington was a witch hunter?

- Changing the story's perspective - The story of Mona Lisa could be told in her own point of view or The Devil Wears Prada could be told from the antagonist's perspective.

- Change the settings or mix different time periods – What would happen if Alice in Wonderland was set in New York?

The ideas sound absurd but some movie producers and story writers have done this successfully. You can always twist some elements so that it still stays original without having to borrow other characters. Taking a topic you are passionate about and mashing it up with an idea that's completely new to you can make the story more personal and original.

9. What Ifs
This is the best question to ask when your mind just cannot produce ideas. What if questions can create several scenarios and characters that can be mixed together to create a story.

- What if one day someone comes to my house and tells me I'm secretly a spy in training?

- What if all the Fairytale princesses were princes instead?

- What if I could time travel and alter the events in history?

The possibilities are endless.

10. Reinvent a Scene
Take a seemingly ordinary scene from your favorite book, magazine or blog and twist it up. Change the characters, switch it up, add your own elements and modify the settings. Just make sure you're not just copying and plagiarizing it. Taking an idea and reinventing it may not sound original but it is something that has been done by several writers for years. While stories and novels are now cliché, authors add their own personal flavors to make it their own. There are many dystopian novels, many books about magic, stories about time traveling and so on but what can you do to make it more personal? What can you add to it to make it into a different story and not just another cliché story

While these strategies may not work for everyone, it's important to remember that a challenge such as a writer's block should not discourage you from creating a masterpiece. Taking a step back, allowing yourself to create mistakes and not fearing the opinions of readers can help overcome this obstacle. Great writers didn't create bestsellers in a day. They too, once experienced writer's block and their works were once criticized and rejected but they persevered and so they were able to become bestselling authors. Take some tips from them, push through all the challenges and keep moving forward.

- Clark, Roy Peter. Writing tools: 50 essential strategies for every writer. Hachette UK, 2008.

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Last review and update: August 30, 2021
About the Editor
Ben Benjabutr is the editor of BookWorm4Life. He holds a Master's Degree in business with 10+ years of work experience and 8+ years of experience in blogging and online content production. He enjoys reading books about business, lifestyle and literature and he loves to share what he learns from books. You can drop him a line via e-mail.