Try These Absurd Methods for Overcoming Writer’s Block (That Actually Work)

Overcome Writer’s Block - Makealivingwriting.comHaving writer’s block is one of the most terrifying feelings for a creative person — especially when you have a deadline. There’s plenty of advice out there, but what if the normal ideas don’t work to get you writing again?

Well, that’s the part where you go off the reservation and try some of the more, shall we say, unorthodox methods. Today I’m going to show you 10 absurd strategies.

Keep in mind as I write this that I am of sound mind and body. I’ve used these techniques, and they keep me full of awesome blog ideas. Some of these may sound crazy, but they work, I promise!

1. Talk to yourself (or an imaginary friend)

Try opening an document and writing out a conversation with yourself or a hypothetical “fan.” Talk about your ideas and ask yourself questions to help work through the block. Be honest with yourself, or should I say, yourselves?

2. Turn off the filter

Writer’s block makes you angry, so let it out! Start ranting and raving. Use language that would make a sailor blush. Get it all out, and then maybe start fresh or tidy up the first draft.

3. Change your writing tool

If you’re stuck in Microsoft Word, try switching to Google Docs. Change the font size or color to make it look different.

Or try pulling out a piece of paper and a pen and composing by hand.

4. Write in concentrated bursts

Sometimes you just need to push yourself to write as much as possible in a short amount of time. Try out the Pomodoro Method, where you set a timer for 25 minutes and work until the timer goes off. Then take a 3-5 minute break.

5. Embrace chaos

We usually try to keep ourselves ultra-focused when writing, but that’s not how creativity works. Instead of trying to control it, let yourself be taken in by the chaos of life. You never know what will give you an idea.

6. Write in a different time or place

While routines can be good for writers, sometimes you just need to turn a day on its head and work in an entirely different order. If you typically start the day with emails, skip it and dive right into a project. Check emails later, after you make some progress.

Or go to the library or a coffee shop — somewhere completely different from where you normally write.

7. Take a shower

If you’re stuck, don’t try to force the creativity. Your brain needs to relax, so try doing something that requires very little brain power, such as taking a shower or doing some routine chore, such as the dishes. You’ll be surprised how readily the ideas will pop!

8. Head to Facebook

This is another one you wouldn’t think to do because it’s a time vortex. But if you need ideas, there’s plenty here. Just set a time limit for yourself so you don’t lose hours of your day.

9. Listen to the rain

The sound of rain is relaxing and comforting. And it can get your brain working. No rain? Maybe you could sit near an aquarium or fountain and get a similar effect.

10. Steal ideas

Don’t outright copy someone else’s work, of course, but use it to inspire new ideas. Visit a blog you’ve never read before or pull out a favorite novel — anything that can spark your creativity. As bestselling author Austin Kleon once said, “All creative work builds on what came before.”

What unique ways do you use to combat writer’s block? Share your tips and your favorites in the comments below!

Patrick Hartoonian is the co-founder of On Blast Blog, where he provides insight for beginning bloggers. Sign up for his free blogging course.

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26 comments on “Try These Absurd Methods for Overcoming Writer’s Block (That Actually Work)
  1. Ahmad Ben says:

    Great tips here Carol.

    I find that taking a break and changing location can work wonders with the plague of writers block!

    Ranting and raving to myself like a madman is also something I find myself doing from time to time – blowing off steam works 😉

  2. Rob says:

    I listed RainyMood above. Another good one is calm dot com

  3. Akinde Hafiz says:

    Thank you for this lovely piece, Carol.

    I’ve had to unblock my writer’s block with points 6 and 7 on a number of occasions.

    I find myself using these methods when I’m under pressure to deliver a job or when I’m stressed out, and my creative juice won’t flow.

    They’re simply magical.

  4. Tana says:

    Two things!

    (1) If rain noises aren’t your thing, but you love the “white noise” of a coffee shop, try Coffitivity. You can actually just play the sounds of a coffee shop.

    (2) I want to add to #2 on the list! I teach writing at the college level, and one of the biggest complaints I get from students is that they can’t think of anything, they don’t have any ideas, etc. etc. They assume that thinking has to come before writing. But I believe that writing is an epistemic process. So I tell them to just freewrite. Often I do tell them to just write how much they hate the assignment, and writing, and whatever…including profanity. But sometimes if they’re stuck I also just tell them to write everything they know on the topic, even if they think it’s irrelevant. I tell them to write questions they have. I even say they can start with “I don’t know what to write. I hate writing…” and just keep writing that until something comes out. 9 times out of 10, the student comes up with amazing ideas!

    Great post!

  5. Robert says:

    I really enjoyed all of these tips, Rob. I tend to use them all myself because they do indeed work well. I think Facebook can be a double-edged sword with writer’s block but that also can depend on the writer. A shower is a wonderful way to clear the mind, though 🙂

    Nice work!

  6. fiona says:

    Me too, I laughed at reading the tips. I like to turn writers block around … what if it’s not a block at all, what if it’s a story I’m telling myself. What if my writing needs a break – I take a walk or cook…keeps me moving and creating.

  7. I find it’s always balancing between staying consistent yet not falling into the drudgery of repetitiveness. There are moments when I must push myself through and then other times where adding a interruption is actually more productive. I’ll have to add some of these to the tool box.

  8. Las Lugosi says:

    Writing is like sex. It requires creativity, a level of involvement that blocks out the rest of the world, imagination, desire and a level of selfishness and arrogance that makes one believe they can succeed at the task at hand. So when writer’s block strikes, in addition to all the other ideas discussed here, the answer can also be sex. Unless one works in an office. In that case the answer is lunch.

  9. Joan says:

    I laughed out loud reading this list – thanks you made my day, I’m normal. I do all these things anyway, except Facebook (soon). Maybe this is why I don’t have writer’s block. I can’t make writing happen, so I don’t.

    No matter how much I try to ‘organize’ my writing, it doesn’t work, so I gave up. I thrive in disorganized, creative chaos. When there’s a deadline I get really stimulated and wake up at 3 am or some other inconvenient time and write, edit, rewrite. I learned to live with it because I can’t change it.

  10. Arjun says:

    I really enjoy to write article in MS WORD(with my choice of FONT), no matter, how good Am I in English grammar? :p

  11. Gary Schenkel says:

    Physical activity, especially running or brisk walking, helps me break loose of writer’s block. The ideas just seem to flow when I begin to move.

  12. I often start articles with sentence fragments typed in the order they pop up, almost like brainstorming. I write them down even if I think they won’t fit in the finished product. Sometimes just getting random ideas in front of me is enough to start “reminding” me of related ideas to include. That list makes me want to put them together, and then pow! I get inspired to make those ideas into sentences and paragraphs.

  13. Love the comments about finding artificial rain sounds and drawing your ideas…

    When I’m stuck, I sometimes take a nap. Or do my dishes, or fold laundry. The worst thing I can do is worry about being idea-less, so if I divert my attention from the problem, it is more likely to resolve itself.

    I also admit to writing bad poetry.

  14. Sherry Gray says:

    If it’s not raining, try rainymood dot com. (the system would not let me post as a link)

    That’s my go-to white noise.

    Great tips, thanks!

  15. Robbie says:

    Affronted to admit it but #1, which is usually accompanied with a lot of #2.

  16. Marcie says:

    Another creative way to overcome writers block is to draw pictures of your idea. You don’t have to be an artist, just let your creativity flow.

  17. Rob says:

    Re: #9. here’s what I use:

    www dot rainymood dot com