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As a lover of words and a person who communicates best in writing, not being able to write is terrifying. While writer’s block does not trouble me often, when it descends, it is a harsh experience I mostly loathe. I have fought against it and despaired with it to no avail.

Each bout of writer’s block handles differently; I never find that I am blocked for the same reason every time the thought of writing leaves a bad taste in my mouth. If I can, I try to take a moment or a few days to figure out why I am blocked. Underneath the prevalent disgust/feeling of failure/frustration, there is always a reason for those feelings. Perhaps someone said something discouraging or criticism nettled me, or perhaps someone else’s rousing success made me wonder what I am doing wrong, why am I even trying? Jealousy is a natural part of the journey; I feel it, but I do not let it consume me.

I do not like words like ‘avoid’. Yes, some things can be avoided but most things I would rather meet head on and resolve my dislike or fear of a thing then and there as opposed to holding on. Writer’s block cannot be avoided but it can be dealt with by a variety of creative or traditional means.

When writer’s block strikes, I am usually fed up with writing and do not want anything to do with it. However, it is a useful steppingstone up to come across creative and innovative ways other writers have overcome their block.

I have been feeling a bit blocked up lately in terms of inspiration and focus, so today I thought I would find one more reason to write by sharing how I handle writer’s block with a mix of traditional but mostly strange and creative techniques.  

  • Write about writer’s block. Nothing is more helpful than writing about something you hate or want to be rid of. Most people do this in a personal journal or diary for their innermost feelings, but you could express yourself in a short story or a poem as well. Write about how being blocked up makes you feel. You may not be writing what you want to write, but you will be powering up by writing.

Related: 4 Tips to Help You Write Better Poetry + resources

  • Try a different pen. If you are like me and you write by hand, try writing with a ballpoint pen as opposed to a rollerball pen or vice versa. If you have a quill or ink-dip pen, you might even try that.
  • Read a bad or controversial book. There is always a book circulating where common opinion is that it is bad. Controversially, there are also books that spark massive discussion and beating of the dead horse over tender points within the writing. I find reading a book against something I believe in is a great way to get my argumentative thoughts flowing in ink. Reading a bad book also sparks my confidence and tells me I can write well. This kind of inspiration is the inspiration that drives writer’s block out!
  • Watch a bad or controversial film or show. If you are more of a movie person, watch a poorly made love it/hate it film or show!
  • Try something new. There is nothing like writing a mystery story if you normally write fantasy to get the words flowing, or delving into prose if you normally go in for poetry. Experiment in words and see if anything clicks. You will not be worse off than where you started out.
  • Read gossip magazines shamelessly. I do not think much of the gossip magazines that tantalize you at the grocery store checkouts; the English rightfully call them ‘rags’ but reading something as poorly written and ridiculous as the stories in the magazines is a great way to get your writing juices flowing again, if only in outrage.
  • Shamelessly plagiarize. Take a great story premise by another author that fails in its delivery and write it your way. Make it as you wanted to read it. Obviously, this writing should be for your eyes alone unless you share it appropriately labeled as fan fiction.
  • Doodle endlessly. Pass time by doodling! I doddle in the margins of my notebooks and scan headlines and book titles for passing inspiration.
  • Get creative. Forget about your writer’s block by moving away from writing altogether! In the absence of words, I sing, dance, and cook. I do not seek distraction, just something to pass the time. Music and board games, films, and books are also good creative fillers.
  • Wallow in self-pity. If all else fails, there is nothing like a good moan. If you have someone so supportive as to listen to you wail and possibly gripe, do it. You will feel better. If the conversation does go in a more wholesome direction, do not be afraid to follow it. There is a healthy amount of self-pity and then there is an unhealthy amount of self-pity. Know the difference.

Eventually a little something will pique your interest and the words will begin to flow again. Writer’s block is not the drying of a well; it is merely a lull that soon begins to swell again.

How do you deal with writer’s block? Share your favorite technique to overcome it below!

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