top of page

writer's block

Updated: Mar 17, 2023

Tips to get words out of your head and onto the pages

This month's blog was inspired by a dear friend, Giovanna! She wrote to me asking if I could help a friend get over writer's block. I consulted Ernie Hemmingway, the creator of the Y Files. He gave me an extensive list which I will share with my readers.

Eat Until Inspiration Arrives
Binge Watch Reruns of Lassie

If you can't find Lassie, any animal show will do.

Clean Your House Top to Bottom
Walk. For Days. if You Must

Avoid Your Writing Space at All Costs
Tell Everyone You're a Writer

Even if you don't have anything on paper, people will be impressed.

"There you have it," Ernie said, licking his paws.

"But I've tried all of those and none of them worked,' I said.

"If you're so smart, write your own blog." He traipsed off.

(Note to self: Never trust a strange animal you meet at a dog park.)

I decided to respond to my friend's email without the benefit of Ernie's insight.

For starters, writers’ block is something I don’t believe in. What I believe happens is that either the fear of writing, rejection or the busyness of life keeps people from writing and they call it writer’s block. Sometimes people will stare at a blank screen. Welcome to the world of writing. Read below for tips to get get ink onto the page.


Commit to write and do it. You must sit down and write. There is no magic number for the amount of time you must spend. Don’t let anyone tell you that you have to write so many hours a day or you’ll never achieve your writing goals. Once you get an agent, editor, or producer, then you must get your work done in a timely matter. For now, however, just set some time aside - even if it's five minutes a week.

Lower Expectations

Do not expect to write brilliantly. In fact, when I began writing 30 minutes a week, sometimes it was 11:30 on a Saturday night. I realized I hadn’t written anything. I got out a scrap piece of paper and wrote silliness. But I still wrote.

Once you're on a schedule, your writing will improve. Keep in mind, however, even the best writers must rewrite. It’s okay. You can always rewrite crap but you can’t rewrite nothing.

Research is good

Writing time can be used for research. Just make sure you're not using research as an excuse not to write.

Genre Matters

Last month on my Talking to Myself podcast we talked about why genre matters. Spend time learning the different genres and see where your writing fits. It will require a lot of reading and trips t local bookstores, libraries or the Internet. Your so-called writer's block might stem from you not having a clear vision of your audience.

Join professional writing groups

Especially ones that fit your genre. An agent tweeted once that if people were serious about writing for children, they should join SCBWI. Find writing groups within your genre to exchange and critique your writing. Some of them are called critique partners or beta readers.

Things to watch out for:

1. The writers should be writing in your genre. I once belonged to a group with members who primarily wrote poetry. I was writing screenplays. The feedback was ALL negative, and I was disheartened. After joining a reputable screenwriting class, experienced screenwriters reviewed my scripts and provided constructive and meaningful feedback.

2. Do not let the success of your fellow writers discourage you. Let it inspire you.

3. Use the feedback from beta readers as a guide but not an absolute. My rule of thumb is if all the readers say the same thing, I figure there's a problem. I generally don't change things based on their opinions unless I agree.

Enter a contest

I don't have a lot of time to enter contests these days but I used to enter them to ignite my writing cells. I haven't won any contests as an adult, but sometimes the writing prompts give me ideas for future books or movies. If you win or place, cite that when you're pitching your books. If you don't win, don't worry. Just keep writing.

Write multiple things

Some people would say you need to focus on one thing. That's true, somewhat. When my publisher needed the edits for Early Summer, I focused on getting them done. Despite this, don't pin all your success on one book or one movie. I've read several articles about literary agents and movie producers wanting to see more than one piece of work.

School is good

My mother always said we should keep learning until we're dead. I try to take as many free or inexpensive writing classes or seminars as possible. If you're writing in multiple genres, you need to learn how to to write in those genres. Furthermore, trends change quickly these days, and taking courses should help you stay up to date.

Take it seriously

Even if no one else around you does. You don't have to get defensive, but you have to show yourself and others this is a serious pursuit, not just a hobby. One question that bothers me is, "Are you still writing?" I don't think there is malice behind the question. It just feels as if the questioner thinks my writing was a phase. I try not to snap back but the answer is always yes.

Punch in Punch out

How many jobs require you punch in when you arrive. Record your writing time. I created a table which has the date, time in, time out, and project. It's another way to take my writing seriously.


I know some of my readers are not spiritual but for those who are, I suggest praying before writing. I pray for writing success but I also pray for all those who support my writing - fans, publishers, agents, and writing instructors. I also pray for those who have rejected my writing for whatever reason. Besides the spiritual effects, praying helps me stay positive, especially when rejection letters arrive!


Speaking of rejections, many famous authors have received multiple rejections. The temptation is to quit. A professional writer, however, will try to see why a piece was rejected and work at fixing it. Sometimes it has nothing to do with your writing. It may have to do with the piece not fitting the need. Before sending it out again, make sure you're doing research on who you're sending it to. Make sure the person is interested in whatever you're sending. I won't go into detail because I'll be covering this topic later. Just know that rejections do not mean you're a failure. Rejections mean you need to work a little harder.

There it is, some of the ways I have overcome the ubiquitous writer's block. I'm not sure ubiquitous is the correct word, but doesn't it sound fantastic? I love saying words with strong consonants.

If you found this helpful, please share.

Thanks for reading,


Check out this month's podcast. Author LeAnna Shield is my special guest.

Recent Posts

See All


Rated 0 out of 5 stars.
No ratings yet

Add a rating
Feb 25, 2023
Rated 5 out of 5 stars.

"You can always rewrite crap but you can’t rewrite nothing." That statement alone is worth gold. Thanks, Carol. Trying to take the rest of it to heart. All good advice.


Feb 23, 2023
Rated 5 out of 5 stars.

You got it! Great tips! And I will try to implement them this week. The eating and walking ones- I think I can manage. The 30 minutes- that’s “do-able.” Thanks for making the challenge not too scary to take on!

bottom of page