How to Fight Writer’s Block: A 40-Step Guide

1. First, recognize that writer’s block is nothing but writing anxiety.

2. And in order to overcome writing anxiety, you have to wait for said anxiety to break.

3. So, train yourself to sit with that anxiety. Like, bathe in that anxiety. Wash your face and your armpits in that anxiety.

4. By this, I mean plant your butt in front of your laptop or desktop computer or notebook (poets) or typewriter (hipsters) and don’t fucking move.

5. Do not run away from it to go “wash the dishes” or “make more coffee” or “boil water for tea.”

6. Those quotation marks refer to the fact that these activities are nothing more than distractions, a.k.a. fake activities to save you from drowning in your own anxiety bath.

7. But do you really think that I’d let you drown? Writing anxiety is like having a panic attack. As in, even though it feels like you’re dying, it won’t kill you.

8. Unless you have a heart attack.

9. Also, you don’t need to “make cookie dough” right now.

10. Recognize that everyone experiences writer’s block a.k.a. writing anxiety sometimes.

11. For instance, I was supposed to be sitting here working on my book, but instead I’m writing lists of things I’m unqualified to write about.

12. Sometimes you might sit and ask yourself, “what the fuck?”

13. I mean, really. Why can’t I just work on this book that I told everyone that I’m writing? Do I think it’s just going to magically research, write and revise itself? The thought of even opening the document makes my crotch sweat. What if it’s all shit?

14. Is my life all shit?

15. (Breathe.)

16. Here’s a piece of advice: Speed up the time it takes to overcome your writing anxiety by partaking in a bit of alcohol.

17. If you’re writing nonfiction, drink beer. If you’re writing fiction, drink wine. If you’re writing poetry, drink both. If you’re not sure what you’re writing, drink whiskey.

18. Forget that. Whiskey for everyone. But only one swig.

19. You’re feeling really loosened up now, right?

20. Yet it’s disorienting to be slightly tipsy and still unable to create — still unable to type anything that isn’t, “This is me writing. This is me writing. This is me writing.” After awhile, that is not you writing. You are just moving your fingers around all weird on some buttons.

21. Thus, infuse yourself with a little creativity. That’s right. One puff of green will release you from your anxiety and allow your mind to run free.

22. Just don’t over-puff.

23. You over-puffed.

24. Are those my hands?

25. You’re an idiot.

26. Take another swig of whiskey.

27. Wait what?

28. Now you’re drunk, and high, and need a nap.

29. But at least you escaped the hell that was sitting there in that bubble of potential failure.

30. (Smiley face.)

31. Wake up and watch something, preferably on a site that has no ads so you that don’t have to be taken out of your TV binge coma for even a moment.

32. You just watched a full season of The Great British Bake Off and you don’t even like cakes. Or British people.

33. Now it’s already 8:00 pm and you have to go back to work tomorrow and this was supposed to be your writing day.

34. Ask yourself: Is this what I will be remembered for?

35. In fact, get specific and cater this question to your own life. For example: I’m sorry, but is this why I moved to New York City and am paying $2200 to rent a crumbling closet-sized apartment with a pre-war kitchenette? This is what I hope to make my parents proud with? You started your book a year ago and still haven’t gotten past chapter five? And you just ate a cracker off the floor? Are you serious? This is what you’ll be remembered for?

36. Good job.

37. Now take some deep breaths.

38. Then order in some food and sit down in front of your laptop or computer or paper or typewriter.

39. (Hipster.)

40. And don’t fucking move.