Conquering the Writer’s Block

When you’re a writer, there are few worse feelings than the dreaded writer’s block. It’s that friend that loves to drop by unannounced and far too often, just to whisper in your ear: “What do you mean you’re trying to write? You’ve got nothing left to say. Let’s watch 30 Rock.”

Now, I’ve heard some people say that they don’t believe in writer’s block. These people are somehow blessed with the self-discipline to sit down in front of their computer or notebook at a certain time every day (probably before noon, too), and stand up a few hours later having produced a considerable amount of decent, solid material. I imagine that these people also actually floss after every meal and remember to change their Brita filters however often people are supposed to do that.

However, I do believe in writer’s block, and not just because there’s a Wikipedia page on it. No, fellow writers and readers, I’ve been there. Whether it’s an essay due in 4 hours or a certain story that just won’t come out, I’ve definitely had those moments where I start to wonder if repeatedly hitting my head on the keyboard might be more productive.

Whenever I get that feeling while trying to begin some creative writing, I usually turn to the internet for some inspiring, (and most importantly) free prompts, and I thought I would share some of what I’ve found. Kathy Steffen over at The How To Write Shop wrote an article a couple of months ago about getting over that “getting started” hurdle, and here are some of the prompts she came up with, for either fiction or nonfiction:

  1. Write about waiting for a baby to come
  2. Write about a birth
  3. Write about being a child at the turn of the century. Next, a child in 1920. 1930? 1940? 1950? 1960? You get the idea…
  4. Write about going to school for the first time
  5. Write about a teen-age fan and the icon they adore (person, character, movie, etc.)
  6. Write about a dance in a gym
  7. Write about a first date
  8. Write about a first kiss
  9. Write about a party
  10. Write about a graduation (high school, college, beauty school, driving school, etc.)
  11. Write about a wedding
  12. Write about a marriage
  13. Write about a breakup
  14. Write about a divorce
  15. Write about a family reunion
  16. Write about waiting for death
  17. Write about fighting death
  18. Write about a death
  19. Write about the morning of a funeral
  20. Write about a family ritual

The life events listed above tend to be changing points in a person’s life, moments full of drama and urgency, and as such writing about them can imbue your prose with the same qualities. Write about yourself or a character of yours, and don’t get tangled up in concerns about whether it’s the beginning of something larger or if it’s going where you want it to; just keep writing! Because when you’re a rich and famous author, you can always pay someone to buy your Brita filters for you.

From Cambridge Editors,



1 Comment

January 25, 2012 · 7:56 pm

One response to “Conquering the Writer’s Block

  1. Harte Weiner

    This blog speaks to me. For years, I woke. The first line was already running through my head. One year poetry began to emerge almost telepathically, arrived as I logged in and leaned back. Even the boot-up sound was a cue. My logic–beat the distractions, the phone calls, the dog hunger, the (eventual) infant hunger–worked! Why now the obsessive scrunging, and rinsing, of the favorite mug? Certain outer cues, atomatic as finger-snapping, once summoned me. Then, I worked from the inside out. Thank you for for your experience, and for the prompts, which I will, promptly, print and post!

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