Posted by: justasked | March 9, 2012

Literary Constipation ~ Overcoming Writer’s Block

Some authors may have deadlines, others may be writing their memoirs or personal blog posts.  Whatever category you lump yourself into, something in this post may be of value to help you become (literary-speaking)…..unconstipated!

The mind is an incredible piece of biological technology that the average human being barely even comprehends.  It has requirements and needs (rhythms, cycles, inputs and outputs).  Unfortunately all too many of us make demands of it, rarely understand how it works, and get upset when it doesn’t function as expected—just like we do our computers.  Somehow though, we’re more forgiving with our computer technology than we are with our humanity!

Preparing Yourself to Write

Being the creative sort, you’ve armed yourself with a trove of favorite standbys, you’re special writing utensils, and yellow stickys with notes collected throughout the day when fleeting thoughts race through your mind’s theater.  Another handy tool you may use and take with you (via computer or smart phone) is Evernote.   Of course, the scene is not set without a cup or glass of your favorite beverage, sometimes a light snack and maybe some mood inducing music…..or not!

When You Suddenly have Nothing to Say

It seemed when I lived in Washington D.C., every time I needed to be someplace in a hurry, traffic would come to a grinding halt! What can you do? Well, after getting stuck in one of those jams more than once, you quickly learn to bring along some of your favorite music, a good book to read or some form of electronic entertainment.

The same dilemma happens to writers.  Except, instead of being in the middle of the road, away from a bathroom, your mind was all geared up to download the next best seller and instead, you have EBS (Empty Brain Syndrome).   Frustrating isn’t it?  Over the past several days on your mental pad (mind space partitioned for your writing efforts), you may have watched a movie or two; listened to music that would make Yanni stop in his tracks; endured unexpected stormy weather; received emotional news of some sort; or met for coffee at a local TweetUp….all of those life events that help marinate and add to the flavor of your story.  Just when you thought that everything had jelled together … the feeling’s gone! The play of mental images doesn’t make sense, and you’re really starting to doubt that you had anything useable or interesting in the first place!

Don’t Stress or Get Upset

Turtles don’t come out of their shells on demand!  Your writing Mojo has just taken a short sabbatical and restricted your access to the partitioned writing mind space.  I’ve read several articles doing research for writing this post and there are many who say there’s a “cause” for it.  Many of these articles basically tell you it’s your fault!  It’s nothing more than some psychological fancy way of saying you have:

Fear of failure or success
Pushed yourself too hard
Used up all of your inspiration
Illness or depression
Finance or relationship problems

Be Your Own Best Friend, Get Up and Walk Away

I’m a believer that our computer technology is slowly evolving to imitate what biology has mastered.  The body is a very complex work of chemical & physiological technology.  It evolves and becomes better with each version/generation or offspring (iPad2 move over iPad3’s here!)  As we’ve learned with computers, sometimes they get stupid, lose their mind  or give you a blue screen of death!

There’s only one thing to do—POWER DOWN and RESTART.  So, when you experience writer’s block, quit fighting and doubting yourself!  Leave your house, go outside for a walk…nature is calling you—giving you a blue screen on your mind’s monitor.  I really couldn’t be more serious!  A walk outside is what you need…not looking for answers or walking and staring at the ground with a furrowed brow—intentionally LOOK for Nature!!  What birds do you see, are there leaves budding, flowers blooming?  Can you smell the scent of the earth with spring’s sun warming the soil?  Do you hear the birds or the sound of running water?  Plunge your mind into purposed and focused engagement with nature.  When you return to the task at hand, if it still doesn’t come easily to you…take a look at the list of “causes” and write a paragraph on the one you think may be your culprit.  If its still not flowing, review some of your previous writings from an editor’s perspective.  Writer’s block is your body’s way of telling you it needs a reboot!



  1. Excellent post, Ed. Personally, I’ve never considered it ‘writer’s block’. When I find myself at a point when things aren’t flowing out, I simply accept that my mind has gone into mulling mode. I just have to let it work things out and the process picks up again. 🙂

  2. Thank you for the mention!

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