How to Never Get Writer’s Block

by Henrik Edberg

How to Never Get Writer’s Block
Image by
Zach Klein (license).

Post by Henrik Edberg. Follow me on Twitter.

“Inspiration exists, but it has to find us working.”
Pablo Picasso

“Don’t think. Thinking is the enemy of creativity. It’s self-conscious, and anything self-conscious is lousy. You can’t try to do things. You simply must do things.”
Ray Bradbury

Here’s a short and sweet post for today. I have been blogging for almost two and a half years now. I haven’t really run into writer’s block so far. How? Here are few tips that help me out. I hope you’ll find them useful.

  • Always carry a pen and piece of paper. Obvious tip, but if you always do this then you’ll capture a lot of ideas before they fly away again. I also have a pen and paper beside my bed since I often get ideas just before I go to sleep. Figure out if you have any such creative places and make sure to have some idea gathering materials close by.
  • Write down every idea. Even if it may seem stupid at the time. You never know, it might be useful in some way later on.
  • Brainstorm. You can often get a good stream of ideas going if you just get started. You may not feel like you have any ideas at all. But as soon as you sit down and start to brainstorm to reach for instance 20 ideas on some topic your mind starts to spit out idea after idea. It’s a bit weird, but after the first idea pop out you often experience a sort of ketchup effect.
  • To get a good idea, have a lot of ideas. Then choose one of those ideas. I have Word-documents for every idea that I want write about for this blog with a brief outline or some central words that I have typed down quickly. I never sit down to blog without available ideas to pull up and choose from. This is very helpful if you want to blog regularly without creating a lot of anxiety within about what to write about.
  • Expose your mind to new ideas. Read a variety of stuff, not just the stuff you are used to. Talk to people about all kinds of things. Follow blogs and Twittering people that aren’t your usual cup of tea.
  • Expose your mind to stillness. If you overload your mind with too much knowledge and ideas you may not only start using it as way to avoid taking action. It can in my experience hinder creativity. Sometimes it’s good to stop exposing your mind to a lot of new information. This can help you digest the impressions you have picked up recently and combine a few of them into cool and exciting ideas. Also, as you may have noticed, ideas often comes to us in the shower or other odd places where the subconscious has time to work while you focus on not getting shampoo into your eyes. So again, don’t forget to always keep a pen and a piece of paper close by.
  • Keep your mind open. You never know when you will get ideas. Oftentimes I can get them from something random someone says in a conversation. Sometime it may come from a short part of book or movie. I came up with the idea for this article while watching an episode of Andy Richter Controls the Universe – a very funny sit-com – where the main character runs into writer’s block. There are always ideas floating around out there. You just have to focus on what you wanttune in your reticular activation system – to see them and then use your pen and paper to catch them.
  • Just start writing even if your feel uninspired or blocked. It’s just like going to the gym. You don’t always feel like going before your go. But a short while after you’ve started you are glad you got going. I find that I can often start writing and then inspiration catches up with me along the way.

What is your best tip for avoiding writer’s block? Or just to get a really good idea?

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{ 15 comments }

Eddie February 18, 2009 at 8:31 pm

I frequently save drafts of posts and pick up on them at later dates.

Rob D. February 19, 2009 at 3:25 am

Hello, first time visitor. I am a big fan of keeping a pen and paper. Most my idea come when I am at work. I can usually have a dozen ideas written down. Good article.

Kyle February 19, 2009 at 9:24 am

Caffeine helps me, but i believe that is only because i drink soda or coffee a few times a week. The energy boost seems to give new life to my mind when nothing seems to be clicking. For anyone who drinks caffeine rareles i would reccomend trying it to stimulate your mind.

Yes, But Still... February 19, 2009 at 10:22 am

Excellent ideas!

I find that by writing everyday, at the same time, whether I have an idea or not, helps.

I wrote about it once on my blog:
http://yesbutstill.blogspot.com/2009/01/personal-productivity-tips-part-1-of.html

Paul Foreman February 19, 2009 at 11:46 am

Excellent ideas – personally, I use Mind Maps although I am aware it does not suit everyone.

I would like to suggest also enhancing the senses; as advocated by Leonardo da Vinci.

Becoming more aware of your surroundings opens up so many ideas you will need the paper and pen you suggested using to note them all down!

A great way to enhance the senses is to take everything in without internal analysis – simply observe.

Reannon February 19, 2009 at 12:24 pm

Here’s a few more ideas…

- Going for Walks

- Caffeine! A good cup of coffee kickstart my brain into gear. Helps me focus my thoughts.

- Chatting with close friends. Sometimes I find that if I can’t think of an idea, I just take a break and go hang out with friends. Usually conversations I’ve had will spark an idea.

- Reading a lot…Reading generates ideas!

Good post! Short but sweet. : )

Nicholas Powiull February 19, 2009 at 1:09 pm

I have never had writer block, for over 2 years of writing. How? I use the art of focus:

If sharpening your skills at art is your goal, then you must see, hear, smell, taste, and breathe art. Watch documentaries about art, listen to audio covering art, research art, take art classes, and focus on anything art related. It is obvious that if done consistently, then art will become a very powerful skill in your life and eventually you will express yourself through your art and create more art in this world.

When your focus is complete on what you write about, you never run out of ideas (hence writers block) because you are always allowing ideas to flow through focus.

:)

Henrik Edberg February 19, 2009 at 4:46 pm

@ Eddie: That’s a good way to get some perspective on what you are writing. Thanks.

@ Rob D.: Thanks you and welcome! Yep, keeping your pen and paper close by at all times is a great habit.

@ Kyle: Good one, I sometimes become a bit more alert after a cup of green tea too. Although I drink it every day so the energy kick isn’t that noticeable really.

@ Yes, But Still…: Thanks! I haven’t tried that one but have heard that many writers like Stephen King do the same thing.

@ Paul Foreman: Cool, I haven’t used Mind Maps but just observing and opening up to your surroundings is one of my favorite techniques too.

@ Reannon: I like going for walks too, it’s like being in the shower, it always seems to give me an idea or two. Just observing the surroundings, the people etc. without analyzing is powerful.

@ Nicholas Powiull: That’s a good idea. I also believe saturating your mind in whatever you want to do is crucial. I have certainly done that with all of this personal development stuff.

Paul D February 19, 2009 at 10:27 pm

My favorite way to avoid writer’s block is try and capture your subconscious thoughts and write them down. Write down how you feel rather than what you want other people to think you are feeling.

Chris Edgar | Purpose Power Coaching February 20, 2009 at 1:44 am

Thanks for this post. What I find is that, if I simply allow my writer’s block to be there, without shaming myself for “running out of ideas,” it dissolves quickly. But if I make the lack of ideas into a problem, it persists.

Henrik Edberg February 20, 2009 at 7:37 pm

@ Paul D: That’s an interesting tip, I haven’t heard of it before. Thanks for sharing!

@ Chris Edgar: Aha, so you use acceptance and just observe the block. Sounds like a good and very effective idea.

Meaghan February 22, 2009 at 12:39 am

What a great list…thanks for the post!

Truthteller March 1, 2009 at 3:37 am

This is a very simple but terrific idea…

Take a 3X5 index card

Write out topic on front (i.e. topics for your book or blog)

Put the card where you will see it often (in the car, by your computer, on the bathroom mirror, on the fridge and carry one in your pocket or purse)

on the back jot down ideas as they occur to you.

By the end of the day, I’ve got lots of ideas. And with lots of thoughts and ideas collected writing an article or story is then pretty easy.

“when life gives you lemons, make a margarita”

Vincent Le Pes March 3, 2009 at 1:04 am

I find the internet helps me…whenever I need inspiration for my art, I roam google images, stock sites, and my favorite design blogs, stumbleupon…even aimlessly, roaming the internet can provide endless inspiration. Just be careful, if you get too sucked in you could find the time you set aside to be creative has passed while you were surfing the net!

Praverb March 4, 2009 at 5:00 am

lovely blog Henrik…I am in the midst of a writing block…I will definitely use some of these techniques to avoid blockage…

Praverb

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