Wednesday, July 5, 2017

How to Break Through Writers' Block

Heather Augustyn

We’ve all been there. Fingers are poised over the keyboard, coffee at hand, kids occupied and dog sound asleep and the muse just isn’t visiting. Writers’ block can be an evil foe and there really isn’t a surefire way to get the juices flowing, but here are a few ideas to help.

1.     Read
Pick up anything, anything at all—Harry Potter, a copy of The New Yorker, an old journal. You never know when inspiration will come and reading other people’s words seems to help get those synapses firing.

2.     Listen to an audio book or podcast
Again, this is activating the language sectors of the brain, and creativity can strike from anywhere!

3.     Take a walk or a leisurely drive in the country
Our brains are designed to work in the conscious and subconscious, so even when you’re not noodling an idea, you are still noodling an idea, and so a step away is a great way to keep the conscious occupied so the subconscious can strike!

4.     Bake a cake or work in the garden
The idea here is to do something totally different, something that is constructive, brings something to fruition, that doesn’t require the same kind of thinking as writing.

5.     Write about something unrelated to your project
Pick an object in your room—a vase, a television, a plant—and tell the fictional history of how that object came into existence. Any kind of similar prompt can help in a number of ways, either by creating something useful for a future project, creating a solution to the block on your current project, or just writing for the sake of writing.

6.     Phone a friend
If you talk through a story, the friend can offer you their ideas which can either be great, so steal it, can spark a thought that takes you closer to what you need, or can create the opposite of what you’re looking for so you have something to push against and form your own ideas even more strongly.

7.     Sketch
No, not a character sketch or a story sketch—a sketch sketch. A drawing. Draw the scene, draw the setting. Sometimes accessing the information in a different way can open the floodgates of creativity.

Heather Augustyn is an author, journalist, and writing instructor. You can connect with her at,, or @HeatherAugustyn.

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