Grace Notes

a blog about life’s everyday magic

October 27, 2017

Four Ways to Beat Writer’s Block

Four Ways to Beat Writer's Block

Words: Christen Hammons
Photo credit: Robert Zaleski


As an editor of several magazines, I have a lot of different writing assignments.


Some have a specific topic, other times I can write whatever I feel like, but no matter what the subject matter, I have to turn something in. I’m sure many people imagine that editors can just sit down at their computers and let the words flow. The problem is, that rarely happens. A lot of times, the words sputter more than they flow. I’ll write what I think is the perfect opening sentence, or possibly the best title I’ve ever come up with, and then … nothing. With deadlines looming, I have no choice but to somehow get words down on paper. Over the years, I’ve had to come up with a few tricks to get myself inspired, and here’s what I’ve found works best for me.

Tips for Beating Writer’s Block

  1. Read something that always inspires you. I have a few favorite writers whose work I love to reach for when I’m at a loss for my own words. Mary Oliver, Sarah Addison Allen, and L.M. Montgomery never fail to move me.

2. Change the mood of the room. It sounds silly, but I feel a little more “writerly” when I’m working at my computer with the lights off and only the glow of my desk lamp illuminating my office.

3. Switch up your music. I can’t work in silence. However, music lyrics easily can distract me, so I’ve started listening to instrumental music while I write. You can easily find playlists on any streaming app.

4. Start over. When I’m really struggling to write something, I will often have a file full of starts and stops. I don’t delete anything; I just hit “return” a few times and start over. Then I’ll walk away and come back and will know which direction I want to go.

 

These are just a few things that work for me, but I’m always looking for more ways to break through creative blocks.

 

Do you have any tips? Be sure to share them with our readers in the comments.

 

To trouncing writer’s block,

Christen Hammons

 

Christen Hammons is the Director of Publishing for Stampington & Company and Editor-in-Chief for:
Bella Grace Magazine
Field Guide to Everyday Magic
Somerset Studio
Artists’ Café

 

This photograph by Robert Zaleski originally appeared in the September issue of Bella Grace Magazine.

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Comments ( 8 )

  1. Jordan

    April 19, 2023 at 4:25 pm

    Change locations.

    Sometimes an office can be creatively stifling. Being reminded of all my unfinished tasks and looming deadlines is not my favorite setting to write in.

    What works better for me is to head outside, go to my favorite coffee shop, or even bring my notebook with me for a slightly longer lunch break, so I can chip away at it from the restaurant.

    The change in scenery is inspiring and distracts me from my writer’s block. I often return reinvigorated with lists, quickly jotted notes, and sometimes full pages that give me the confidence to move forward when I get back to my desk.

  2. Mary MacIlvain

    April 19, 2023 at 4:25 pm

    I like to pause from writing and savor a cup of tea… lemon and green teas are my favorites. As I hold the mug of tea in both my hands, let it steep, and smell the aroma, I let my mind wander wherever it wants to go. That usually brings out fresh ideas and connections to new thoughts and directions. By the time I am half way through the cup of tea I am feeling refreshed and can get back to writing with a new outlook.

  3. Betty Kobes

    April 19, 2023 at 4:25 pm

    Thank you

  4. Deb Gaut

    April 19, 2023 at 4:25 pm

    Love your post. What helpful ideas for overcoming writer’s block. When I’m experiencing a block, particularly during the daytime, I go for a walk. Feeling the sunshine on my face and absorbing the sights and sounds of Nature do the trick every time.

    Thank you for your work on the beautiful Women Who Create Business, which inspires me with each new issue.

  5. Bella Grace Magazine

    April 19, 2023 at 4:25 pm

    Thank you so much for your kind words, Deb. Our readers continue to motivate and inspire us more than anything!

    Best,
    Jordan

    The Bella Grace Team

  6. Frances Macias Souza

    April 19, 2023 at 4:25 pm

    Yes! Thank you. I appreciate your ideas. I have a solution that works for me, and it works every time. I change the focus of what I’m writing, as though I am writing a letter to a dear friend. And then, the words flow!

  7. Ella

    April 19, 2023 at 4:25 pm

    I love these suggestions~ Sometimes I will make a collage with a glue stick and some fashion magazines. Then I write what inspired me to pick those items. I also will go for a walk glancing for signs in nature-the clouds, a bird’s song, a rock and see what about those speaks to me. If I go back to writing and still feel blocked- I will use the advice of Mad Men’s Don Draper. I will watch a movie and allow my mind to escape. Usually, ideas will arrive and I feel like Peggy when she helped with the lipstick campaign. “I don’t think anyone wants to be one of a hundred colors in a box.” If still I feel kinda off-I will write about my favorite lipstick color and why that is me. Oh, in case you are curious-I am Matte-itude hoping to write a Matte-sterpiece.

  8. Debbie Slaughter

    April 19, 2023 at 4:25 pm

    Many times, when I get stuck on a particular piece, I will step away from my desk and do something totally unrelated, like a daily chore that needs doing or a walk outside. I find that just moving and changing my focus, for even 5 minutes, will be just the thing that gives me new perspective when I return to my desk.

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