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How To Overcome Writer's Block

The Ultimate Guide to Writing a Memoir, Chapter 4

This is the fourth part of our 'Ultimate Guide to Writing a Memoir.'
To access the rest of the guide, click here.

What is writer's block?

Writer’s block can affect anyone - it’s a popular name for that moment when you are in the midst of a project, but you lack the inspiration or drive to write another word.


What actually causes writer's block?

Common causes of writer’s block are timing, fear, and perfectionism. Any one of these causes can 'block' a writer.

Timing: there are certain times of day, or days in a week, that you just don’t want to write. You’re too tired. You’re too busy. That’s okay.

Fear: people are often scared to put their ideas out there, open to the criticism of others.

Perfectionism: some people want everything to be perfect in their minds before putting pen to paper. This just isn’t going to happen, so the writing never begins.

Tapping pencil Written notes to stop procrastinating  


How to overcome writer's block

We’ve found some great ways to help overcome writer’s block and get you back on track.

Embrace your concerns: being afraid is okay. It’s justified. Accept and embrace your fear and it won’t overwhelm you or put you off. Your first draft won’t be perfect. Remember that you can go back and edit when it’s done, and you’ll be able to keep writing.

Do something else: write a poem, draw or paint a picture. Doing something different but equally creative will help to get those creative juices flowing again before you go back to writing.

Read: reading can help you to remember why you’re writing your story in the first place. Books will help to inspire you and give you some encouragement to keep going.

Change your environment: is your desk chair comfortable? Well lit? Would writing be more exciting if you change where you do it? Why not try going to a nearby coffee shop? Find a space you’ll look forward to being in and you’ll look forward to writing too.

Free write: literally write anything. Spend 15 minutes a day just writing. Ignore punctuation, and just go. Set a timer and write whatever comes to mind. Either do this for a week or so and then return to your writing project, or free write for 15 minutes and then go back to it straight away. Who knows what you’ll come up with!

The foolproof method

If none of the above methods seem to be working, there is one way to overcome writer’s block that works. The foolproof method is: just write.

If you just focus on one sentence, and then the next, and keep going, your inspiration will come back. You can write. The first draft doesn’t have to be the best draft. It just has to be there. So write.


Read Chapter 5: Editing and Proofreading

Written by Sarah Evans
Image credits: by Photosteve101, Rennett Stowe and Emdot

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