Guest blogs and bloggers / writers tips / writing

Why I don’t get writer’s block

An efriend writer originally published this as a guest post on their blog to help me launch Against All Odds August 2020. In case you missed it there, here are my anecdotal thoughts on how to add drama to your story:

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I should get writer’s block. I write twelve hours a day, pretty much every day. Where it used to be a hobby, it’s now What I Do. Well, I teach also but that requires a lot of writing (because I teach online).

Before I explain why I escape that horrendous malady that over half of writer’s anecdotally report they suffer, let’s talk a little bit about writer’s block.

What is Writer’s Block?

Writer’s block is where you stare at a blank page for long periods of time, trying to write but are unable to find the right words. To put that academically:

“Writer’s block is a condition, primarily associated with writing, in which an author loses the ability to produce new work or experiences a creative slowdown. This loss of ability to write and produce new work is not a result of commitment problems or the lack of writing skills.” —Wikipedia

According to Terry Pratchett:

“There’s no such thing as writer’s block. That was invented by people in California who couldn’t write.”

Why (I think) I Don’t Suffer From it

I write a lot of different stuff, fiction and nonfiction, for myself and others, blog hops and my own articles. Each seems like a break from the other. I divide my day into thirds, each devoted to a different writing event. That way, if I get stale on one task, I move to a different one.

“The wonderful thing about writing is that there is always a blank page waiting. The terrifying thing about writing is that there is always a blank page waiting.” ― J.K. Rowling

Here’s how to get rid of it

Jack London has this to say about curing writer’s block:

“You can’t wait for inspiration. You have to go after it with a club.” 

The folks at Master Class offer eight EASY ways to overcome Writer’s Block. I’m always suspicious that something labeled ‘easy’ isn’t but they had some good ideas including take a break, jump ahead in your novel, and freewrite. Still, I wondered if they would work so kept searching…

Darren over at ProBlogger suggests you make a habit of finishing any writing that you start.

Here’s an idea from Gabriel Garcia Marquez, the winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature:

“One of the most difficult things is the first paragraph. I have spent many months on a first paragraph, and once I get it, the rest just comes out very easily.”

Mark Twain suggested:

“The secret of getting ahead is getting started. The secret of getting started is breaking your complex overwhelming tasks into small manageable tasks, and then starting on the first one.”

Here’s what I’d try if I got Writer’s Block

  • Pet my dog more often. It’s centering.
  • Read the entire Twitter feed from Thoughts About Dog. Here’s a favorite: “gooooob morning. if you think i won’t lie down. where the sun shines through the window. with these paws crossed. all day long. you are out of your mind”
  • Figure out what the heck “a bridge too far” means. I have no idea. Or find a way to defeat a Mobius Strip.
  • Create a false post hoc–like the fallacy that a rooster crowing causes the sun to rise. In my case, it would be that writer’s block means you can’t write.

#amwriting #IndieAuthor

More on writer’s block

University of Illinois’ Center for Writing Studies

10 Ways to Beat Writer’s Block from Penguin Random House

7 Ways to Overcome Writer’s Block from Writer’s Digest


Jacqui Murray is the author of the popular prehistoric fiction saga, Man vs. Nature which explores seminal events in man’s evolution one trilogy at a time. She is also the author of the Rowe-Delamagente thrillers and Building a Midshipman, the story of her daughter’s journey from high school to United States Naval Academy. Her non-fiction includes over a hundred books on integrating tech into education, reviews as an Amazon Vine Voice,  a columnist for NEA Today, and a freelance journalist on tech ed topics. Look for her next prehistoric fiction, Laws of Nature Summer 2021.

104 thoughts on “Why I don’t get writer’s block

  1. Love the Jack London quote – Go after it with a club ? Five months ago, I knew I had to rip a book apart and rebuild, tell the story that was there all the time. Painful – but
    a great experience.
    12 hours – Enviable, . One day, maybe….

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I read somewhere there is no such thing as writer’s block, one can still write, it may be just rubbish, and isn’t that what drafts are about? I tend to research if the writing isn’t forthcoming, and that triggers the creative juices.
    Great article, Jacqui 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Love the quotes. I’m with you – I don’t believe I’ve ever had “writer’s block.” I don’t have time for it. But I don’t believe in sitting in front of a blank page, either. I start with two words “She said,” or “I remember,” or “After that…” and starting writing. No thinking. Just let it out. No block occurs!! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  4. If only I had 12 hours a day to write… My headblock comes because I have such little time to squeeze in my writing I feel the pressure to make it count and the stress can freeze me. Working on it 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Hi Jacqui – so many sensible ideas in your post and from commenters … I’m a butterfly brain – I could easily be a mind map of ideas – and extracting that subject to write about can be a challenge – but I’m only really writing my posts, commenting on blogs … but I need to settle and get on with putting fingers to keys! Take care with some great thoughts – cheers Hilary

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Very useful comments. Someone said it is the first para that is the most difficult for them. I believe I get stuck because of the last para, or the ending. I find it challenging to determine how I am going to end it and what is really the key message.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I do think there’s a lot to be said for having different types of writing go on. I suspect that working on a novel for twelve hours a day would not work for most people, but we’re all wired differently. I haven’t written long enough to know if this is a thing with me or not. I have about three things that I’m writing besides the occasional blog post. Some days the words flow easier than others. If I’m just not feeling it, I often will go take a walk or some other form of exercise. It seems ideas come into my head better then.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I would suspect your memoir went pretty fast? It read like it was from the heart, as though it flowed. I bet writing 12 hours a day wasn’t difficult for that! I’ve had one book that went very quickly–shockingly. The rest are more measured.

      Liked by 2 people

      • Yes, only in the last year have I tried writing fiction which is far more challenging. I appreciate the challenge of building something from scratch. My first children’s novel is getting edited right now, and I’ve started another story as well. It’s not nearly as long as your books (only 60,000 words), but that’s understandable since I’m writing for middle grades. After that, I plan to query agents for a year. If I can’t find any takers, I’ll probably self-publish down the road. I’m learning a ton and having fun—two of my prerequisites. I wasn’t writing every day before, but now I try to write some each day. I’ll never be a 12 hour a day kind of writer, and I’m okay with that. We all have to find what works best for us.

        Liked by 2 people

  8. I think writers may get writer’s block if they only have one writing project going on. When they can’t squeeze another word out of their brain, they just stare at the screen agonizing without doing other creative things.

    Great article, Jacqui.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Having taught as a university lecturer and writing one book and still working on the other, I agree with your thoughts about different writing genres to keep the dreaded block from happening, Jacqui! For me I work better from an outline and a weekly schedule. It took me a while to realize that grading papers and leaving comments was “writing,” as well as creating powerpoint slides. I wondered why I felt tired, well, duh, now we know why! You are always an incredible inspiration to me, my friend! As for my writing projects, they’re in procrastination mode at the moment!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I understand why (the procrastination mode thing), what with your dramatic move. We’re going to move but probably not for a few years. We just bought a whole-house generator and want to get our money out of it!

      Liked by 1 person

  10. You had me laughing with the remedies for writer’s block. I find that if I get the first sentence written, I’m on my way. So sometimes my first sentences are kind of dumb and I know it, but I also know that I’ll delete it or fix it up it once I’ve gotten myself “jump-started.” I think the outline idea that Diana mentions is a good way to avoid a bad case of writer’s block. I know you are big on outlining too. Makes sense to me.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. “Writer’s block” sounds so ominous and immovable. I prefer to think of it as a time when I need to tweak the outline to make the story easier to finish.
    p.s. I am halfway through Survival of the Fittest. Fun story! Xhosa is an awesome character.

    Liked by 2 people

  12. So funny, Jacqui. I love the quotes, and the “dog” solution is a keeper. I don’t get block either. (I do get “procrastination” though). I think I avoid block by writing with an outline – I always know what’s coming next, I just have to knuckle under. I also accept that first drafts are ugly little beasts, so it’s okay if what I write is terrible. In other words, “finding the right words” doesn’t come into play. Happy Writing!

    Liked by 1 person

  13. I love Terry Pratchett and that quote. lol I think it’s great you don’t get writer’s block. The tips you gave to overcome it if you did are fantastic. I think they would definitely work.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. I loved the quotes, especially the one from Terry Pratchett.

    I rarely get writer’s block either. Many times the writing needs a lot of help to survive a re-read, but if I set aside the time to write, words always spill onto the page. Time, however, is an enemy, more so lately than before 😦

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Writer’s block is an empty cup of creativity. When I write…I go after it until my creative cup is empty. Then I go do other stuff and wait for it to fill up again. When I sit to write, I go with the flow until I am done.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. I agree that writing different kinds of things can help with writers block. I’ve had a job as a contract writer for six years now and have learned that there’s no time for writer’s block when you have weekly deadlines. That’s helped with my fiction writing too. I’ll have to try your pet the dog idea if I get stuck.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Hehee. I did that sort of writing for about a decade, mostly reviews and edtech articles. I really hate deadlines! I didn’t mind at all when it melted away. I’m glad it works well for you! What types of articles do you write?

      Like

  17. I don’t get writer’s block, either. I don’t know if it’s because I outline or if it’s because I’ve been writing professionally since before I graduated college, but I’m used to that looming deadline, and I always know what needs to be said, so I never have that blank-page plague many people complain about. If I ever have a day where writing doesn’t get done, it’s because I wasn’t performing, not because I had a block of some sort.

    I agree with the quotes you listed though (start at the beginning, tackle the project one small chunk at a time, and a blank page can be both a promise and a taunt). Loved the post, Jacqui.

    Liked by 2 people

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