Sunday, February 27, 2011

Writer’s Block Woes: How to Get Inspired Now (Guest Post!)

If courting the muse has left you disappointed and unproductive, it’s easy to start losing your confidence and motivation. It can be tough to force yourself to write because creativity requires inspiration, and that can be elusive. It’s also frustrating to write for the sake of writing, then have to go back and edit heavily or remove large portions of content. However, there are some strategies you can use to get your confidence back, find inspiration, and write something that’s worth publishing. No matter how uninspired you feel, you can choose one of the following options to get you back on track.

Location, Location, Location

While it’s comforting to write in your office, working in the same place consistently can hurt your chances of being spontaneously inspired by external factors. Having a large picture window can be effective, but it doesn’t always do the trick. Sometimes, the best thing you can do is to get into your car and start driving until you see a good place to stop and write. If you’re writing on a laptop and have a short lifespan on your battery, you’ll need to find a coffee shop, library, or other quiet place where you can find a free outlet. Otherwise, you can write outdoors, which can both inspire you and help you write more prolifically. I’ve found that the best cure for my writer’s block is to take a pen and notebook to a park, sit on a bench, and let nature keep me inspired.

Time Machine

Besides writing your novel or other pieces for publication, it’s helpful to keep a journal that you can look back on for inspiration when you’re suffering from writer’s block. I know of at least one talented and widely published poet, Claudia Emerson, who keeps a journal for the purpose of inspiration. She reads back through it for words, phrases, or ideas that catch her attention, and she uses those to spawn new poems. Not only is this effective for poets, but it’s also a helpful habit for novelists, authors of children’s books, and nonfiction writers. I wasn’t sure that it could work for me, but now I’ve started reading through my journal and I’ve found several phrases to use in my writing projects for publication. It’s not entire sentences that become useful, but two- or three-word phrases that have real substance and can engender larger ideas. Gleaning these from your own writing can boost your confidence and help you write more effectively, even when you think you’ve hit a wall.

Stop, Look, and Listen

When you start to feel that you’re unsuccessful in your writing endeavors, stress can start to creep in and rob you of any inspiration or productivity that might have been available to you. Sometimes, it’s helpful to stop what you’re doing, look at a peaceful image, and listen to calming music. Viewing a slideshow of favorite vacation photos can return your mind to a more peaceful and enjoyable time, enabling you to access productive thoughts and ideas. The same is true of listening to inspirational music. Stimulating your visual and aural senses in this way can distract you from the problem of writer’s block while providing a solution: calm nerves and fresh ideas.

For especially intransigent writer’s block, try combining two or more of these strategies. This will help you focus your energy, expand your options, and reduce any negative thoughts that might be associated with writer’s block. Stay creative and positive to get back to writing in no time.


Today's guest post was courtesy of Maria Rainier.
Thanks for the great advice, Maria!

What's your trick to combat writer's block? Leave it in the comments!

About Maria: Maria Rainier is a freelance writer and blog junkie. She is currently a resident blogger at First in Education where she writes about education, online universities, and what an online degree means in an increasingly technological world. In her spare time, she enjoys square-foot gardening, swimming, and avoiding her laptop.


  1. When you're trying to find writing time around a day job, it’s hard to just write when you feel inspired. I force myself to sit down and write. Most often, starting is painful. Reading the previous scene(s) help me with the ideas that will move the story forward, and a good playlist on the iPod helps to inspire.

  2. I would love to just drive off and work outside. With my new laptop I can write outside for hours, but, well, there the problem of winter right now.

    I summer I love going to my special creative space - the campground. Being at the lake, in the boat or in the tent when it's raining gives me the most power.
    Nahno ∗ McLein

  3. I just stumbled across your blog and I just wanted to say that I think its awesome. I've already learned a lot from it, and I appreciate the community and feeling of support. Thanks for all you do!

    Sarah Allen
    (my creative writing blog)

  4. Great post as I'm sort of in a writer's block right now for a scene. I have the beginning and I have the ending, just no middle! I'm going to try come of these suggestions. THanks!


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