“Who is more to be pitied, a writer bound and gagged by policemen or one living in perfect freedom who has nothing more to say?”
― Kurt Vonnegut
You have writer’s block. You’ve been trying to write, you’ve been coming to the table, but it’s still not happening.
You resort reading dozens of stories per day with advice on how to get over writer’s block.
I’ve been stuck in an incredibly sticky bout of writer’s block for the past few weeks. I’ve tried all the tricks in the book, including many that didn’t work.
Amid thousands of listicles both you and I have read about how to break writer’s block, here’s a listicle with five things I tried that absolutely did not work.
1. Completely blow your food budget by going to different cafes buying fancy coffee and looking for inspiration.
Disclaimer: within reason, getting out in a new environment can be a great way to make yourself productive.
But if you’re so blocked up that you aren’t finding that inspiration and you got to four different coffee shops in a week and blow $5 on a cup of coffee each time, well, that’s just going to hurt your budget and it becomes illogical after a certain point.
“Insanity is doing the same thing, over and over again, but expecting different results.”
― Narcotics Anonymous
This quote is often overly-quoted and misquoted, but I think it’s relevant here. I’ve even heard it attributed to geniuses like Albert Einstein, but Goodreads attributes it to Narcotics Anonymous.
Where it came from doesn’t matter; it’s true. If you put yourself in a rut as you try to break your rut, you’re just in a new rut.
2. Spoil yourself too much in the name of feeling better and more motivated.
“I will totally feel better if I buy this cool new paper and this cool new pen and I will buy twenty books and go out to eat at this nice restaurant so I feel good and have the right mindset for writing, and, and, and…!”
This is a run-on sentence because when you start treating yourself too much, you’re going too far. After a while, it’s just pointless indulgence.
A little bit of indulgence might help, but going too far isn’t good. Plenty of writers will tell you to treat yourself to help get you going again.
“Nothing’s a better cure for writer’s block than to eat ice cream right out of the carton.”
― Don Roff
Just do yourself a favor—don’t finish the carton of ice cream.
In moderation, these things can help. But if you go too far with treating yourself, you’re just going to feel unfulfilled, still uninspired, and probably a bit ashamed at these different forms of retail therapy.
I’ve gone as far as to look into the science behind battling writer’s block. This knowledge is helpful and
3. Cling to your niche like a liferaft.
“You can live with me in this house I’ve built out of writers blocks.”
― Pete Wentz
I have some questions for Mr. Wentz about whether writers blocks has become a solitary noun or if he means writer’s blocks, but this quote is too hilarious not to address.
It’s funny, but it also reminds us that we all experience writer’s block. This is a battle we all fight.
And when you’re trying to develop yourself as a steady content creator with a niche that will help others, you’re going to find yourself blocked.
It’s important to have a niche, but you’re going to have times where you just can’t muster another word about your favorite topics. Luckily, it’s okay to break your niche as long as you’re strategic about how you do it.
When you’re in the throes of writer’s block, if you keep slamming yourself against the same works in progress and writing a few sentences in an hour, you aren’t going to break your block.
You need to write through the block. You absolutely do. Sitting still won’t get rid of it.
Do yourself the favor of writing something new. Write something new, different, and exciting that will let you bring your love of writing back a little bit. If that means breaking your niche, do it.
4. Procrastinate until hell freezes over.
“Hey, it’s so nice to get on the phone and chat! It’s been ages!
But oh, hey, Lucifer? Is it snowing down there yet?”
In one of my worst spats with writer’s block, I literally wrote a piece of justifications for baking cookies when I should have been writing. It’s very silly, but I was deep in the block and I just wanted to write something fun.
You don’t want to procrastinate. You don’t want to sit around and wait for inspiration to strike. Unfortunately, if you wait around for motivation, it probably won’t come. If you’re trying to strike up a daily writing habit and be very serious about your writing, you can’t sit around and wait for writer’s block to benignly fade away.
5. Make yourself so busy looking for inspiration that you never actually find time to write.
Writing is like knitting. Stitch after stitch, word by word, and before you know it you have a book … or a jumper!”
― Fusty Luggs
Here’s the flipside. If you’re more of a procrastinator, then the previous scenario might sound more like you.
But if you’re a determined go-getter, you might take the opposite approach. In light of being unable to write, you might decide to pack your schedule with travels, social gatherings, and doing just about anything to break the norm.
It’s good to do these things, after all, we all want to try and have some work-life balance as writers. Yet again, the key is to do them in moderation. If you pack your schedule to the point that you have no time left to actually sit down and write, you’re not going to break your writer’s block.
If you don’t still build out a little time to write every day and make sure you’ll have the energy to make that time productive, you’re going to stay blocked up.
Sitting still doesn’t work, but neither does sprinting at a breakneck pace.