17 Ways to Prevent Writer’s Block

This entry is part 2 of the series Writer's Block
Prevent writers block

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We’ve looked at what writer’s block is, and some of the ways to deal with it. Then we looked at what 12 best-selling authors had to say about writer’s block and how they dealt with it. But surely the old maxim is true:

'Prevention is better than cure' applies to writer’s block. Click To Tweet

PREVENTION:

So how can we prevent writer’s block from developing in the first place? Don’t wait for it to happen. Here are some suggestions to weave into your way of life that may prevent writer’s block.

Take care of your body 

  1. Sleep: We are always urged to get eight hours of sleep each night. That’s easier said than done. But an ongoing lack of sleep dulls the mind and makes it difficult to think creatively. If you have a sleeping problem and can’t cure it yourself, take yourself off to the doctor for advice. I am a confirmed insomniac—have been for many years and often have to pay my doctor a visit. This is the #1 issue I have to take care of to prevent writer’s block.
  2. Exercise: I’m not advocating you hang upside down in a doorway to do this, but keep yourself moving. Get your heart pumping so you can feel it a couple of times each day. Take a walk, and at some point speed it up until you are out of breath or your heart is thudding in your chest. Have a game of tennis, or even table-tennis, or play ball with the dog.
  3. Eat well: Eat a variety of foods, especially partaking of brightly colored fruits and vegetables. Don’t eat too much red meat, and avoid eating late at night.
  4. Watch your alcohol and caffeine intake: Don’t turn to wine or strong drink to boost your creativity. It will work the other way round. Same applies to coffee, sodas and other caffeine-enriched drinks. They may give you an initial boost, but an hour or two later, you’ll crash and need more.

Take care of your mind

  1. Read: Make sure you read a variety of books. When you read a book you really enjoy, go back over it and figure our what you liked the most—and then put the ideas to work in your own writing.
  2. Keep Learning: Take online classes. There are many available for free. If , like me, you live across the globe from most of the live classes, they usually offer free recordings of the webinar which you can listen to. Sometimes you can download them and list to them on your mp3 while out walking or doing housework. If there isn’t an official download button, try recording them through your computer using audacity.
  3. Make writing a habit. Write every day, even if for a short time. I make it a point to write website material at weekends. That varies my topics but keeps me writing.
  4. Deal with Stress: This is often easier said than done, but stress kills creativity. If you can’t get rid of it, try to put it to work. Sit down and free-write about what is causing your stressing. Let it all out. No one else will read it. In the process, you’re writing! And probably writing passionately at that.

Take care of your attitude to writing

Avoid social media, checking emails, or “doing research” until you’ve written a chosen number of words. Click To Tweet
  1. Switch off your WiFi: Don’t allow yourself to go onto any social media, check emails, or “do research” until you’ve written a chosen number of words. Leave your phone in another room, or ask your partner to keep it from you until you have written your quota. If you find it difficult to stay off the Web, use an app such as Freedom (Freedom – Block Distracting Websites). Personally these drive me crazy but I know a number of writers who like to be blocked from the Internet while they are writing.
  2. Forget perfectionism: Perfectionism is probably one of the biggest causes of writer’s block. You will never turn out perfect prose so don’t even try! Write from your heart, then edit with your mind. But don’t expect it to be perfect. This is probably the #1 area most writers need to tackle in their bid to prevent writer’s block.
  3. Stay positive. Jot down any thoughts you have that fit your Work in Progress (WIP), and keep track of other material that would make a good article. This is especially true of night time. Which of us have not woken in the middle of night with a breathtaking idea. It is so clear, we know we won’t forget it, and we go back to sleep. What happens? Come morning the darkness flees and so do your ideas.
  4. Change your working venue: Occasionally, take your laptop to a coffee shop that doesn’t have WiFi, and write for a few hours. Write in a different room of the house. I often write better sitting on our veranda, despite traffic speeding down the road and the occasional person walking past and greeting me.
  5. Get off your computer: If all else fails, try writing longhand for half an hour. Often that will spark your creativity.

Take care of your relationships

  1. Avoid critics: You need critique (when your work or chapter is finished). You do not need criticism from people who don’t like your writing. If you can’t avoid them, learn to ignore them.
  2. Collaborate with fellow writers or creative thinkers: Even chatting together and sharing ideas can be a positive way to overcome problems in your WIP. They may come up with suggestions you would never have thought of.
  3. Eavesdrop: Listen to what people have to say. Treasure and take note of unusual expressions or responses. As soon as you can, make a note of them and loo for an opportunity to use them in your writing.
    Base your characters on colorful people. Click To Tweet
  4. Base your characters on colorful people: You’ll be surprised how your characters will come to life as you see their models talking and reacting to situations. You can even ask them a question to see how they respond. Obviously, you won’t give your made-up characters telling details that others will recognize the real-life character.

Next post on the topic of Writer’s Block: 26 Quotes from best-selling authors

16 comments on “17 Ways to Prevent Writer’s Block

  1. I think “writer’s block” is just an excuse for laziness, or for simply not wanting to work. It’s no different than an CPA saying he/she is suffering from “accountant’s block.” You are either a working writer, or you are not. It’s that simple.

    • Thanks for your opinion, David. That is exactly how I thought until I faced two major surgeries within two weeks. The double anaesthetics shattered me. I am normally a prolific writer, but I found myself unable to think of one logical sentence to write. My WIP seemed rubbish, and I couldn’t figure out how to continue with it. I really thought I was going to have to give up writing, it was that bad. In desperation, I started to read up on writer’s block, and I soon realised this was my problem. I decided to share what I was learning on my blog, and sure enough, that removed the cork and I was able to write again. (And my WIP suddenly looked good again!)

      So I hear you, but I know it can happen for whatever reason. All the best for your writing.

  2. Yes, I’ve checked off everything on this list, and they ALL help, for sure. I also teach these points to my creative writing students. I particularly love #10, 14 and 15! 🙂

    • Thank you for the visit Pamela. #10 is definitely highest on my life. I’m forever telling people to “Just get it down. You can edit it later.” But I find it very hard to apply!

  3. What a great list, Shirley… All sensible ideas.

    In my case. Sleep (or lack of it) has a mind of it’s own these days, and exercise is difficult (though I do try).

    I’m kinda hearing no-caffeine… but it’s muffled. Perhaps it would help if I took my fingers out of my ears 😉 … NO CAFFEINE..Oh my! lol

    Writing everyday…even just a little REALLY helps! I’m working on that one. Even on the sleepiest of days I try to jot a few lines; a quote, an idea, a random thought.

    I had more to say on this, but Hubs is calling me to go and get my Littlie dressed for school, so I’ll have to run (crawl would be more accurate).

    Take care. Kimmie x

    • Thanks so much for your visit, Kimmie. I hear you on the topic of sleep. I’m not a good sleeper either! LOL to the comment about caffeine. I’m with you there too!

  4. Well….I should be writing NOW, but instead I am reading your wonderful post (from Blog share Learn!) I don’t have blockage yet, but I should be “blocked” from using the computer’s wi-fi 🙂

  5. You must be inside my head because I’ve been working on two posts on this very same subject. The more serious one I will be posting tomorrow, and then the following week, a humorous spin on Writers Block. This is a great post though—very informative. I seriously need to take your advice!

    • Thank you Marcia. I am busy on the next one on the same topic! Please make sure you put your links on Blog, Share, Learn! We can learn from one another.

  6. Totally agree with everything here.
    The ability to write is a work of art. Patience and persistence is the name of the game.

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