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How to Overcome Writer's Block

Updated: Aug 19



Writer’s Block

Recently a friend who is working on a novel said that his book had come to a standstill. I suggested that maybe he had writer’s block. I thought about all the times when I was in a similar situation. Through my research, I found that writer’s block is a very common issue with writers. Where does it come from and what can we do to get “unblocked?”
According to Merriam-Webster Dictionary, writer’s block is a “psychological inhibition preventing a writer from proceeding with a piece of writing.” (www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary).

These are some of the things I do to shake off writer's block. This technique works for fiction:
  • Create a plan or outline for a story. Every story has a beginning, a middle, and ending.


  • Create a character sketch that details every person in the story; what do they look like? What What is their occupation? Do they seem happy or sad? List any personality or physical quirks that make them unique. List any details that you can think of that might help your reader visualize what this person looks like.

  • Create a problem, A story needs to have a character with a problem to solve. A problem creates conflict, which makes for a suspenseful story.


  • Create a complication. The central character must have obstacles in the way of solving his or her problems. This creates intrigue and inspires your readers to care for the protagonist.



  • Write the solution. The central character is actively involved in trying to find a solution to a problem. Sometimes the solution comes from an epiphany or realization about a relationship or situation he or she is involved in. The solution should seem satisfying and realistic to the reader.


Outlines are helpful for non-fiction when I'm working on longer, more in-depth works. I like to make sure I have done my research and cite my sources either in the paragraphs or at the end.


I used to take construction classes at a local community college. We partnered with Habitat for Humanity to build new houses from the ground up for low income families. We always had plans for each house. First the excavator came and dug the trenches for the foundation, then the concrete was poured. After it hardened we framed the exterior walls and so on...everything according to the plan.

This process reminded me of going on a road trip. If I were driving from Chicago to Denver, I would start with a plan (before GPS, we used a map). I would have an idea when I wanted to leave, what cities I wanted to stop and spend the night, and approximately when I wanted to arrive.


Whenever I get writer’s block, I always go back to the plan/blueprint for the story, that usually helps to get me back on track.

So, what are your techniques for recovering from writer’s block? Leave a comment. Thanks.


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