Writer’s Block: 9 Things You Can Try To Cure Writer’s Block When the Words Won’t Come

This is a guest post by Anne Peterson. She is a poet, speaker, and published author, and a regular top contributor on Medium. In this post-Anne shares 9 helpful tips to help you cure writer’s block.

The screen stares blankly at me. My fingers cease to type waiting for the words to come rushing out of my mind and fingertips. But they won’t, I have Writer’s Block. What can a writer do, when this happens? Is there a way to free up those words inside us? In other words, can we cure writer’s block for once and for all?

Let’s look at 9 things to try when you have Writer’s Block;

1) Change your scenery.

Get up and go for a walk. Go for a drive. Just stop looking at the screen for a while.

Albert Einstein is credited with saying;
“Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results”
 You don’t want to be called crazy, do you?

Words cannot be willed onto the screen. I know I’ve tried.Changing your scenery makes your brain wonder what you’re up to. Some writers even try to change where they do their writing. Are you an office person? Then try a coffee shop. Do you usually write at your desk, try writing outside for a change?

2) Exercise

Perhaps your brain needs fresh oxygen. Why not do something to exert energy. Run in place, grab a jump rope. Whatever will get your heart pumping? Maybe you’ll loosen ideas that are stuck in your mind and they can jog onto your paper. Besides, exercise is good for you.

3) Read to fix writer’s block

Sometimes we need to stimulate our minds. Pick up a book from your favorite author. Inspiration will often get our brains going and before we know it, we will have many thoughts we can hardly wait to translate into captivating sentences that will grab onto our readers and not let go.

4) Listen to music

Our brains are complex organs. Listening to music can be transported us to another time, another place. Waking up those memories may be enough to get those creative juices flowing again.

Have you ever heard a song from your past and the next thing you know you are picturing where you were when you first heard it? Music is a wonderful mode of transportation.

5) Talk to someone

I have a friend I call from time to time and often after we talk, I feel like writing. She stimulates my thinking with her keen insight and her razor-sharp questions and sometimes that’s all we need, to move us out of a place of complacency. Note: this does not work with texting.

6) Take a nap to cure writer’s block

Sometimes our inability to write is just an indication that we are tired. A tired mind does not think as fast as a rested one. So lie down, or put your feet up and just take a little break. And it doesn’t have to be a long break either. Just rest your mind and you may be amazed what comes out of it.

And if you fall into a deep sleep, don’t worry. It probably means you’ll be up later and unable to sleep. Then you can do your writing.

7) Write about something different

Sometimes we shut down because we’re not excited about what we’re writing about. So give yourself permission to lay aside what you are working on and write something completely different for a while. Do you regularly write non-fiction? Try your hand at poetry. Are you a poet? Then try writing a listicle article. Just change things up a bit and you may soon start getting fresh ideas again.

8) Set a timer

Some people work better with pressure. Others lock up. You will know which kind of writer you are. If you like a little self-imposed pressure, set a timer for about ten minutes. Sit there and move your fingers. Just write. And don’t stop till the timer goes off. What many discover is that once you start going, you keep going. The confident writing flows. I do this when I’m resistant to exercise. I just tell myself I’ll do 10 minutes. By the time 10 minutes are up,
I feel like doing more.

9) Free write to fix writer’s block

This is the one that works best for me. I find if I just start typing, eventually I will get the stubborn, bully words blocking the doorway to move out of the way. Then the other words can charge out.

What do I write? That’s the funny part. It really doesn’t matter. I have many pages that have started with the words, “I don’t know what to write…I don’t know what to write.”

Some of my best poetry is written on pages with those words at the top.

We are human, after all! The big thing to remember is that it’s okay if the words don’t always flow out of you. Even a sentence that moves slowly can make an impact.I know what it’s like to sit and stare at an empty screen. Perhaps one of these suggestions will work for you to cure writer’s block. And before you know it, the words will be fighting over each other to wow your audience.

I love words. They’re the only thing I can manipulate without protest.
Stay with it and don’t give up. In the meantime, breathe.
It helps to breathe, whether you’re writing or not.

As a way of reminder, here they are again: 9 Suggestions to help with Writer’s Block;

  1. Change your scenery
  2. Exercise
  3. Read
  4. Listen to music
  5. Talk to someone
  6. Take a nap
  7. Write about something different
  8. Set a timer
  9. Free write

Call to Action:

What way do you think you’ll try next time the words won’t come?

What has definitely not worked to cure writer’s block, and what has?

Is there a certain way you have found helpful that’s not listed?

Post your thoughts below and let’s discuss!

cure writer's block


Anne Peterson

Anne Peterson is a poet, speaker, and published author of 14 books, including a memoir, Broken. She has also written children’s books and poetry books. Of all her titles, she prefers “Grandma.”Download a free copy of her book Real Love by joining her email list. Website: www.annepeterson.com 

You can also find Anne on;  Facebook  Twitter  Google Plus  Pinterest  Medium

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13 Responses to "Writer’s Block: 9 Things You Can Try To Cure Writer’s Block When the Words Won’t Come"

    1. Chris,
      I think you’ll find other writers very understanding when it comes to this topic. Some may even have other suggestions as far as what will work. Sorry to hear you have been plagued by this, but it only means you’re normal as far as a writer. Thanks for taking the time to not only read my article, but for your time to comment as well.

  1. Anne, I enjoyed reading this post filled with many helpful tips for overcoming bouts of writer’s block. Something I think we all go through from time to time. I’ve recently experienced a bit of this myself. These 9 suggestions you’ve listed all work for me. Sometimes the challenge can be pinpointing what works best for those times when I feel blocked. I often have to try a few things. 😀

    Free writing works for me and remains one of my personal favorites as well! I like your suggestion about using a timer. I’ll definitely try that next time the words just won’t flow out easily. I see writer’s block now as a fun challenge. One I remind myself to lean into rather than resist it and fall into the mindsets that only keep me stuck. Doing that first always helps.

    1. Cori,
      I like your decision to think of writer’s block as a challenge. I like thinking of some words just standing by the door of my mind, not letting the other softer words. Until someone finally bursts through and says “You’re not the boss of me!”

      Free writing seems to work when nothing else will, but I think it is fun to try different things too. Thanks for the comments. I appreciate it.

    1. Kris,
      Exercise is a big one for me too. But honestly, I need to do it in addition to when I start my day with it. I sit for long periods of time and I know I would have more thought flowing if I get my blood flowing. Thanks for taking the time to comment, Kris.

  2. Nice article Anne, I do many of the same. I like that you included talking with someone and reading a book, because although it can be seen as a monologue…I really think writing is best done when seen as a discussion. The writer listening to others, speaking to others, responding. It brings an aliveness to the writing.

    1. Raynna,
      Thanks for your comments. I love the idea of bringing an aliveness, a life to our words. And what could be more lively than a good conversation? I recently posted a question on my Facebook pages and took the answers and wove them into an article. I have not published it yet, but it will be published soon. I was so thrilled with how it turned out.

  3. Some very good suggestions here, Anne.

    I have one to add, with the caveat that it won’t be viable for writers working on a deadline. I sometimes just have to walk away from thinking about writing for a day or two (perhaps, even a week), giving my creative juices a chance to flow again. This might be a bit like changing scenery, but I’d describe it more as changing gears. Almost like getting out of the mud and mire, and back onto the highway again.

    Regardless, you bring some very good ideas to mind for me—right in the middle of a mini-season of writer’s block, as it happens—to begin to apply.


    1. Paul,
      I loved your suggestion. I think it’s important to shift gears when we are stuck. And I’ve also recently heard it even helps when we go to bed with unfinished work. That our subconscious takes over and thinks about it, even while we’re sleeping. I’ll be interested in hearing which ones you try and how they work for you. Thank you for your encouragement.

  4. I love this post Anne! We haven’t see 9 tips to cure writers block or any concrete list like this aside from little pieces of advice. So I think it will be a great post to reference in the future!

    Exercise is huge for me, whenever I’m stuck with a wp error or can’t remember the right solution or process for plugins or emails or something, exercise reveals it! 🙂



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