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How to Get Unstuck: Overcoming Writer’s Block


stuck in the mud

Break the Procrastination Habit Today

Does this ever happen to you? You sit down to write or create something and you end up doing everything but writing and creating. And then suddenly it’s the end of the day and you think “How did the day slip away from me? Arg!” It slips away because we find ways to procrastinate, often in the name of getting things done. The truth is we need to make our writing, art, and creation time a priority before we can overcome the procrastination habit.

Why Do We Procrastinate?

The reason people procrastinate is usually because of a few reasons:

  • Seeking Pleasure. You’re looking for a little serotonin fix a la checking email, blog stats, or some other compulsive pleasure producer.
  • Avoiding Pain. You’ve got your mind thinking only about the work and not the pleasure you’ll get from completing your creation.
  • Lack of Direction. You’re not sure what the next step is in your writing or what you are trying to create.
  • Faulty Prioritization. You have other things to do and you are inadvertently prioritizing them higher than your creation work. (a.k.a. procrastination by doing things)


How to Break the Procrastination Habit and Get Back to Creating

1. Make a Mental Commitment. Commit to doing your writing/creation work first before anything else. If you are reading this then it is probably important to you. Focus on how good it will feel when you complete solid progress on your creation work each day. The other things on your list can be done later.

2. Plan Your Day. Write out what you need to accomplish today including your creation work. Then prioritize each item with creation work being #1. Then schedule each item into a time slot for the day. Be realistic about your time frames and be sure to include transition and buffer time in between activities. Keep some time open for unplanned items. When your other tasks have been scheduled then your mind will be free to focus on writing and creating.

3. Clear Your Desk. Set a timer for 3-5 minutes and get everything piled up or put away somewhere else. Leave another 5-10 minutes at the end of your creation time to organize and put everything in it’s place. Don’t get sucked into organizing the items on your desk. Just move them out of sight so they won’t be grabbing your attention while you’re trying to create.

4. Clear Your Computer. Close all windows that don’t relate to what you’re creating. If there is anything you need to look at later, write it down in your capture notebook to review and prioritize later. You’ll be amazed how much unnecessary stuff will be eliminated from your life this way.

5. Start Writing or Creating. Just write/create. Don’t stop. Don’t censor or edit. Anytime you come to a sticking point, find a way to highlight it and come back to it later. Examples:

  • Title: Just fill in a crappy working title. Once the piece is written then it will be easy to bring the title into focus.
  • Items to research: Highlight and return to it after the piece is written.
  • Items to hyperlink: Highlight and create your links after the whole piece is written.

6. Writer’s Block. If you’ve been procrastinating because you can’t find the words, don’t know where to start or what comes next then it is time to get away from your computer. Transition to the simple tools of paper and pen. If you’re still blocked, get away from paper and pen and find a place to daydream. Try both lighted and dark rooms. Try closing your eyes and ask yourself:

  • What am I trying to accomplish?
  • What do I want to create?
  • What do I want to say?
  • Who is my audience?
  • What do I need to communicate?
  • What action (if any) do I want my readers to take?
  • How do I want them to feel?

Take as much time as you can. Really daydream. Don’t censor yourself. Be wild and free and loose with your ideas. There will be plenty of time later to hone your creation later. When you’re done, say after 20 minutes, then grab a piece of paper and quickly write down the main ideas you came up with.

7. If You’re Still Stuck in the Muck. You might be trying to hard or you may need a significant break. The cure is to get away from the task altogether to allow your conscious mind to unwind from the project. Don’t worry, your subconscious mind will continue to process and solve your next steps. Try doing something completely unrelated like going to the zoo, playing a sport, or going to see a movie. When you return you should have a better perspective and a renewal of energy. You may discover that you were going down the wrong path completely and you need to start anew. Even if you are contracted to create for someone else and you’re not into it, make it a goal to find a way to get excited about the project and have fun.

Please Share!

How do you get unstuck? All comments big and small are very welcomed!

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24 Responses to How to Get Unstuck: Overcoming Writer’s Block

  1. Franck Silvestre June 13, 2009 at 3:59 am #

    Whenever I have a writer’s blog I just read the comments on my blog. I can easily pick up a few good ones to write a topic or simply respond to the commenter in more detail.

    • agentsully July 8, 2009 at 3:41 pm #

      @Franck – that’s such a good idea! Thanks for sharing!

  2. Kate April 17, 2015 at 5:16 pm #

    Thank you for your post! As a matter of fact, having read your article, I got inspired to finish my assignment 🙂 I absolutely agree that what we should do to unlock inspiration is just to start writing. This works best for me.

    And I also have come up with observation 🙂
    …Actually this might be not common among male writers, but I literally can’t work in disorder. Sometimes I notice that I become more absent-minded when things around me are messed up. Do you think there is a direct link between conditions and our peace of mind?

    • AgentSully May 25, 2015 at 8:44 am #

      Yes I do ! I can’t work in disorder either!

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