Ask a question

How do I get rid of Writer's Block?

I am a poet and a story writer, but sometimes I just get stuck. What's the best way to get around that? Thanks!


It's ok to get "stuck" ... it's not really "stuck" at all ... it's just time for pause. You don't need to write a million words all the time. When you actually "pause" it means you are coming up with le mot juste (just the right word) and then just roll with it. It's like sailing a ship in a tough sea moment and then calmer seas will come when the words will pour out.

9 Answers by Expert Tutors

Tutors, sign in to answer this question.
Chris C. | All About English, Computers, and the ArtsAll About English, Computers, and the Ar...
5.0 5.0 (3 lesson ratings) (3)
Sometimes, if you've been concentrating intently on something for a long time, you just need a break.  I would go to a local park that has a swing set, clear your mind, and just swing on it for awhile (preferably not during peak "kid" time -- they might resent sharing with an adult).  :)  Or just walk around the park and experience the experience:  what does the sky look like? Is there a breeze? What memories come to your mind?  When you're ready, head on back to your project.  Even if this doesn't help you get back on track with that particular project, it may give you some ideas for another, and you'll feel more relaxed.
Shenikah G. | Patient and Encouraging Tutor Grad For ESL/TOEFL/Literature/ReadingPatient and Encouraging Tutor Grad For E...
I love poetry and short story writing so here is my advice. I would usually go out and do something out of the ordinary and analyze how I felt about it. Next I would write in detail my experience and describe everything. Do something out of your usual routine, go for it and, see what happens. I hope this helps. 
Marie V. | Microsoft PowerPoint, Microsoft Word, Writing Assistance, and HistoryMicrosoft PowerPoint, Microsoft Word, Wr...
5.0 5.0 (26 lesson ratings) (26)
You've already gotten some great responses here, but I'll add a few of my own.
1.)  Think it's important to change your perspective, figuratively and literally.  Sometimes moving to a different part of the room, sitting on the floor instead of at the desk, or standing (safely!) on a stepladder or chair for a bit can refresh your perspective enough to get you writing again.  You can also try changing your perspective within your writing.  If you are writing a poem about walking down the street and observing the things around you, try writing a companion piece about the exact same walk, but from a bystander in the original's point of view.  Maybe the there is a little boy who watches the narrator of the poem pass.  Or try writing from the sidewalk's perspective.  Even if that writing never goes into the finished piece, it will help you understand your piece a little bit more and give it some extra depth.
2.)  Write a character sheet.  This website has two great questionnaires for you to fill out.  Imagine you are interviewing your character.  It will help give you ideas about what your character would do in any situation.
3.)  Go for a walk outside.  I like to walk in a park with lots of trees.  Sometimes, I do my best thinking while walking.  Take a small pen and pad of paper to jot down ideas as they come to you.  Your characters are moving, so should you!
Tara C. | Writing/Arts/Adobe/Photography/Web/Print/ - Let me be the best help!Writing/Arts/Adobe/Photography/Web/Print...
5.0 5.0 (1 lesson ratings) (1)
I wholeheartedly agree that we need a break - and regularly; when focusing so hard on one thing, other perspectives and just our energy can go 'out of balance' or 'out of whack' and leave you feeling like you are working so hard yet getting nothing done!  
Have you heard of the 'Pomodoro Technique?' It's basically a time-management technique that also helps to keep your focus fresh and alert. You time yourself for small to medium amounts of time and also time breaks within your timeline; it places importance, as it should! on the value of taking a short and regular break:
I like to think about the power of this simple technique and combine its concepts with some writing prompts when I have trouble getting something written.  
For example, themed lists make a wonderful prompt to get your mind flowing And the words to come forward easier. Using a starter phrase to keep the list focused, such as 'I never..' 'S/he would always..' Or like Joe Brainard's book, 'I remember..'   These are phrases you can use to just get writing.  You begin to make a list and each sentence or line begins with this same phrase. Your job is to finish it with a new idea each time.  You can write this list in timed segments; 3min, 10min, 25min etc. To have some more stimulus you can even grab a few snapshots or photos of any kind, you can even get them from online, and write the timed lists in response to the pictures. 
They don't necessarily have to have anything to do with what you are ultimately trying to write about.  It's just to get your mind going, into 'writing mode.'  It's like any other voice.  You have to sometimes warm-up before doing the real thing :]   This and other prompts I have on hand help me all the time.
Hope this is helpful!
Katrina B. | Writer, Proofreader, Editor (M.A. English/B.A. English and French)Writer, Proofreader, Editor (M.A. Englis...
I believe that the most effective way to overcome writer's block is to set aside 15 minutes per day for free writing, just allowing your ideas to flow freely onto the page (digital or paper). Also, keep a writing journal in your car or bag so that when your ideas are cropping up, you can catch them. These notes can later inspire you to write more.
Maria D. | Award-Winning Writer For Composition, Essay Prep, ProposalsAward-Winning Writer For Composition, Es...
Steven Pressfield's book, The War of Art, is an easy read about self-help in creativity. I find that writer's block is just about fear of the unknown.  The muse only comes to you when you show her that you are truly devoted to your craft. Even if it's just one line per day, even if it's not the "best" line in the world. The best way to get out of writer's block is to just write. Write about the fact that you can't write. Stream of consciousness. Whatever comes out. The block is something inside of you telling you that you can't do it. That you have no voice.

But as others have mentioned here, taking breaks is extremely important. Rest your eyes, too. Use one of those eye covers that you can chill slightly. Writer's block can also be brain and word drain after a long day. I'm not sure what you do for a day job, but it's challenging to write more if you're writing already during the day for someone else.

Do a little meditation to de-clutter your brain or drink a nice cup of tea to utilize your other senses instead of the analytical brain.

I hope this helps!
Thomas B. W. | Retired Teacher, Latin and EnglishRetired Teacher, Latin and English
4.0 4.0 (2 lesson ratings) (2)
Here is a tactic sometimes works for me when I know what I want to say, but can't get started. I start by writing "I don't know what to write. I'm having trouble because I can't..." And just keep writing. Most of what I write will be edited out, of course. But once my pencil, or my keyboard is in motion, it tends to stay in motion. (Apologies to Sir Isaac Newton)
Renee F. | Retired English Teacher teaching all levels and skills K-CollegeRetired English Teacher teaching all lev...
5.0 5.0 (243 lesson ratings) (243)
The other side to writer's block is getting an idea and not having a pen and paper on hand to write it down.  Let go of this current block and get back to just "living".  However, keep a notecard with you or small pad at all times so that when something does strike you in some way, just jot it down.  The advantage to this is 1) you do not lose an idea or image  2) you have a source to return to on those block days.  I also recommend the following book that helps jostle ideas:  Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg.  She teaches one how to find the story or poem or essay in the simplest of ideas.  She teachers you how to "Look". I hope this helps. 
Cassandra K. | Creative and Enthusiastic English Tutor!Creative and Enthusiastic English Tutor!
As a fellow poetry dabbler, sometimes writer, I know the pain that accompanies writer's block. 
  • Taking some time away from the paper and pencil or computer is a good first step.
  • On that note, try writing on the medium that you don't normally use (ie if you like to type try pencil/pen and paper or vice versa).
  • If you have a time crunch and need to get poems done by a certain time, go a draft a different poem. That way you still have your mind in the poetry writing game but not stressing over something that's not coming.
  • Read poetry. 
  • Writing prompts. I like Writer's Digest. If you Google writing prompts, there are pages upon pages of websites that feature writing prompts.
  • Go and experience life. Take a little notebook and small pen or golf pencil with you and write down anything and everything that comes into your mind to inspire you.
I hope that I helped. Good luck and may Shakespeare be with you!