Nine Ways to Slay the Dragon of Writer’s Block

Most writers experience a touch of writer’s block at one time or another. Staring at a blank screen or piece of paper can be intimidating and unnerving. You shift in your chair. You are not smiling. Both your fingers and your brain appear to be frozen in place.

So how do you slay this particular dragon?

Doses of Inspiration

A dose or two of inspiration can work wonders in getting those creative juices flowing.  Feeding your Muse with any of the following will get you unblocked in no time.


Bartlett’s quotations and the web will serve up any manner of inspirational quotes.  Indeed whole websites are now dedicated to inspiring people from all walks of life to succeed.  If you don’t yet have a few favorites, take some time to find some and keep them in a document, on your phone or posted in your office.  Strong positive messages have been the catalyst for everything from finishing a task to reforming societies.

Here are a few of my favorites:

  • “Let me tell you the secret that has led me to my goals: my strength lies solely in my tenacity.” — Louis Pasteur
  • “Start by doing what’s necessary, then what’s possible; and suddenly you are doing the impossible.” — Saint Francis of Assisi
  • “Genius is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration.”  — Thomas Edison

(We’ll return to the perspiration in a moment.  For now, let’s explore some things bound to inspire.)


Free and ubiquitous, nature will grant its restorative powers to all who pay attention.  So next time you’re stuck, get outdoors.  Take a walk in a park, go tend your garden or take a scenic drive.  No matter the subject, you can always find endless sources of ideas, patterns, observation, impressions, and stories in nature. If you can’t leave your office or location, just close your eyes and transport yourself to place where nature is abundance. If you need more tangible evidence, do your armchair traveling on-line.  Visit a green and verdant pasture, gorgeous beaches, or a quiet forest.

Bathe Your Senses

If you’re fingers aren’t flitting across the keyboard or page, try a splash of light and color to tease your senses into action. Change the color of your computer screen. Write with a colored marker.  Focus on the colors around you. Scientific studies show that color and light have a profound effect on our mood and productivity.   To jump start your neurons, listen to some music to replace the quiet most people seek for concentration.  Spicy, hot or cold food will also deliver a sensory jolt, so a quick snack might boost your creativity as well as your energy and get your words bubbling.

Cloud Source Some Help

It’s easier than ever to cloud source some inspiration from the universe. If have friends who write, or you’re active on social media, you can reach out to some familiar faces with a question about your topic or the writing process and your friends, followers or contacts might provide the added push you need.  There are also countless websites on writing and communities of writers that can validate your experience and offer other tactics that have worked for them.

Doses of Perspiration

While the best writing, like the best performances, appear effortless, so beautifully do the elements flow together, the craft of writing requires both skill and discipline.  Here are some ways to perspire yourself into good writing.

Get Moving!

Oxygen to the rescue!  Get up and get moving to gain some forward momentum.  Go for a run or exercise in place. If you can combine moving and nature, great, but if not, just walk around a bit, stretch, go up and down the stairs or dance around your office if the spirit moves you. Run a quick errand.  Exercise helps recalibrate your brain and fuels those little gray cells in wonderful ways.  It also gives you increased energy for any task.  Leverage the power of movement.

Just Write … Anything

Some writing instructors advise that the mere physical act of writing — writing anything, even a grocery list — can help get you back on track.  The key is to do no editing while writing.  What you are shooting for is a free flow of content to the page.  This is a “fake it ’til you make it” approach that helps clear the dam of words and thoughts seeking release. Eventually, the rhythm of writing will allow you to switch back to the subject of the writing project at hand.

Dangle a Carrot

Think of a way to reward yourself for finishing our piece. Make yourself a tiny promise of something you like (even if it’s 15 minutes of quiet time to yourself).  Keep your promise to yourself.  Savor your accomplishment.  Register how it feels across your senses.

Give Yourself a Deadline

Sometimes having a real or self-imposed deadline can generate just the right amount of heat to flare your efforts. Hunker down in chunks of time, using an actual timer, can also help.  Performing any activity for 15 minutes has been shown to be a great way to end procrastination (another word for writer’s block at times). Setting a timer can be a powerful way to commencing activity, and it’s that activity that will get you to the last sentence.

Know When to Declare Victory

This is not always easy but even if you are working on the Great American novel, you have to stop somewhere.  Gain comfort in the fact that the more you write, the better at the craft you are likely to become.  See my earlier post on No Piece of Writing is Ever Finished.

Try these and other methods to jump start or finish your writing projects.  Keep note of which work best for you and start developing your own list of tools.  That time, when writer’s block rears its ugly head again, you’ll be ready.

© 2012 Anne Doherty Johnson

About the Author
Anne Doherty Johnson is marketing strategist with expertise in growing engagement and revenues for member based organizations. She has over 20 years experience working for membership organizations  matched by leadership roles  for professional and non-profit associations. She views membership from both sides of the table , having been and still serving as both a professional provider and personal consumer of membership services. Equipped with a keen business sense and public relations savvy, she has created successful marketing campaigns to sell memberships, events, products and services.  She has also counseled corporations and individuals on how to maximize memberships in pursuit of their goals.  Contact her at

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4 Responses to Nine Ways to Slay the Dragon of Writer’s Block

  1. Alexander Cardullo says:

    These are very helpful. I’ve printed them out and have them posted near my desk. Thank you.

  2. saifuljusoh says:

    Reblogged this on Saifuljusoh's Blog and commented:
    This is interesting and very much relevant to me. For a person like me, try to write, have so me interest but never have any formal training in writing – always feel awkward when thinking about something to write and to share. Most of the time the write ups just stay there in the draft folder because I have no gut=strength to press the publish button. Only and until I gain my strength to push the button…… otherwise it stays there.

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