Overcoming writer’s block

I’ve realised that the best antidote against writer’s block is simply sitting down to write.

What do I mean by simply sitting down to write?

It means, even on days when I feel like I cannot write or have nothing to write about, I go to my computer anyway and I write.

When I do this I’m always surprised that I want to continue writing. I might be writing badly at first—first drafts are always bad—but once I get to editing, shaping and culling and trimming away at the sentences, I’m back in the mood of writing.

This is similar to BJ Fogg’s idea of building habits by starting real small. For example, if you want to start a daily meditation habit, you should make your habit so tiny that doing it is a no-brainer. So it might be, instead of doing a ten-minute meditation, simply taking two deep breaths in the morning.

Starting tiny helps you to actually do the habit. It also builds confidence and makes it easier for you to keep up the streak daily. What usually happens is that after awhile you will want to do more than two deep breaths. Before you know it, you will find yourself meditating ten or twenty minutes a day. All because you started tiny.

So it’s the same for writing. Writing can feel like a monstrous task in the mind, but it’s not really that scary (I say this now, but I’m always scared to death of writing BEFORE I start writing). Start by simply sitting down to write. Write badly. Then get to editing and rewriting. Before you know it a whole essay has been written. Ha! Am I making it sound too easy?

But it does work for me.

I’d love to hear about how you guys overcome your writer’s block!

2 thoughts on “Overcoming writer’s block

  1. A set of metaphors I’ve found helpful for writing and teaching writing, from Betty Sue Flowers (UT Austin): madman, architect, carpenter, judge. Explained here:


    One way in which these metaphors are useful: as a reminder that when you begin, you’re not producing a “document”; you’re just putting something on paper.

    Not sure how I found your blog — probably from a link in a newsletter (Luke Leigh? Laura Olin?).

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