17 Cures for Writer’s Block

Diane Callahan
14 min readMay 27, 2020

Sometimes the words flow from our fingers; other times, we have to strain our mental limits in order to coax out that creative muse. Writer’s block has various causes, and it can be helpful to self-diagnose the root of the problem:

  • Perfection paralysis: you worry about how much your first draft sucks or about ruining a good idea
  • Foggy vision: you’re uncertain what happens next in the story, or how in the world it’s all going to fit together in the end
  • Boredom: you’ve lost that passion, that spark you once felt, and now the project feels like a chore

Whatever the cause, you can attempt to cure yourself of writer’s block by testing different antidotes.

1. Read other people’s stuff

I would sever my left pinky toe for a spiral library staircase

Get your hands on a book or short story you’ve been dying to consume, especially if it’s by an author you admire. Pick up childhood favorites you haven’t read in decades. Spend time browsing books, and read first pages until one snags your attention, then gobble the whole thing down in a week.

If you’re looking for an ego boost, choose an easy read that you know is going to be a completely cliché, cookie-cutter book. These are the types of stories that will make you go, “Hey, I can do better than that.”

You might also explore nonfiction books — psychology, science, history, memoir.

Once you’ve chosen your reading material, highlight or take pictures of quotes that stand out to you. Then, after you arrive at the last page, write a book review for yourself.

With fiction, think about what the writer did well and what they didn’t, and list examples from the book to prove your point. If it was a bad book, how would you make it a good one? What strategies will you pursue or avoid in your own writing based on what this particular novel has taught you?

With nonfiction, you can list facts you learned or muse about the questions the book raised. How might you incorporate those ideas into your work in progress?

--

--