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How to Overcome Writer’s Block

Do you ever get writer’s block?

The question came through from one of my favorite human beings that I’ve had the honor to coach.

I responded.

An hour later, it occurred to me that when one person asks a question, there are likely others who have the same question but didn’t ask for one reason or another.

Today, I want to briefly discuss writer’s block and how to overcome it.

There are two types of writer’s block as I see it…

The Prompt and The Blank Page

black and silver retractable pen on blank book
  1. You have something specific to write and cannot muster the creative energy to commit words to paper. You know what the subject is and you even know that it’s a topic you can confidently tackle…but, you’re blocked. (The Prompt)
  2. You have a blank page must must not only write something but also decide what to write. You find yourself writing and deleting, staring at a blank screen, navigating a mind that has gone blank. You are blocked. (The Blank Page)

I have been writing for a very long time.

  • I wrote poetry in my teenage years
  • I wrote screenplays and stage plays in my late teenage years
  • I’ve been keeping a journal for more than 20 years
  • I’ve been blogging since 2008

Throughout all of this time, nearly 30 years, I have never encountered writer’s block that wasn’t directly attributable to something else, such as lack of sleep, over-exhaustion, being hung-over, etc. In my experience, writer’s block is something physically wrong with me, it’s not a mental blockage, it’s poor lifestyle habits.

The Shift

If you encounter writer’s block, one of two things is happening:

  1. You believe you must be feeling inspired to write
  2. You do not have adequate processes in place

Let’s address both of these.


If you believe that you must be FEELING creative in order to write, you are going to leave half of a lifetime of great work unpublished. Not only that, but you will not develop as a writer and communicator at the same pace you would if you approached writing as a discipline.

Try to wrap your head around this idea, and you’ll never struggle with writer’s block again:

Creativity is a product of the process, rather than the spark that initiates the process. (Click to Tweet this)

When I suggest that writing is a process, I mean it like how cooking is a process. If I step into the kitchen to cook something, I’m going to cook something. I don’t get stuck at the start and I don’t stop midway through. I don’t stare at the onion and give up after a few minutes.

I cook something. Sometimes it’s good, sometimes it’s not, but I always eat, and over time, I’ve become quite a good cook.

There are times I enter the kitchen inspired, and the dish comes out great. Other times, I just need to make dinner, and even though I’m not really feeling inspired, by the time I’m done, I have a meal to eat.

Writing is the same thing: a process.

Commit to the process and the creativity will show up.


The other reason you may get stuck is that you don’t have a process to avoid getting stuck.

If you don’t like starting at a blank page, start keeping a giant list of ideas. Then, when it comes time to write, pick one of the ideas and go until you hit your goal word count. I’m sure you’ll have to go back and edit, but that’s all part of the process.

Another thing you can do is make yourself a list of questions to answer or prompts to continue. Not sure where to start, go to Quora and see what people are asking about a subject. Look at Amazon reviews for books on the subject and see what people left out. Go to and do some research.

If you are having trouble starting the specific writing assignment or task, start by outlining the idea. Research, planning, outlining, and ideation are all part of writing. It’s not just the final piece that has value.

Whenever I feel stuck, I mindmap the idea as a way to organize my thoughts. The mindmap becomes my outline, and then I get to work.

My Super-Secret Writer’s Block Hack

I’ll leave you with one more takeaway. This ONLY works, if you adopt the mindset that writing is a process not the product of inspiration.

The Jeff Gibbard Pomodoro Technique

selective focus photography of red and green fruits

If you’re unfamiliar with the Pomodoro Technique, you can read about it here. Here’s the basic premise…

  • Pick one project or task you want to focus on.
  • Set a timer for 25 minutes, and get to work.
  • When the buzzer sounds, take a two-to-three-minute break.
  • Repeat.
  • After four sessions, take a longer break.
  • Record each session with a tick or X in your notebook

My version of this is a little different.

  • Pick one project or task you want to focus on.
  • Set a timer for 25 minutes, and get to work.
  • After the timer goes off, turn it off and keep working.

You see, I’ve found that the problem with most tasks is not that we do not have the creativity, intelligence, or will to do it. It’s that we have a hard time starting it. For me, the Pomodoro is a mental hack. I say to myself “it’s only 25 minutes, and after that, if it’s not working, I’ll move on to something else.” I’ve been doing this hack for 2 years now and I have never failed to finish what I started, so long as I actually started it.

Good luck.

Let me know if you have any other tips for overcoming writer’s block. If you use any of these techniques to get over your writer’s block, please make sure to come back and leave a comment letting me know.

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