top of page

One of the most common questions I get asked in interviews, by authors I work with, and even just by friends is how I beat writer’s block. Anyone that writes for a living will tell you that writer’s block is the number one productivity killer in our daily lives, yet it happens to all of us and is often unavoidable.

The Science Behind Writer’s Block

There was a neuroscientific study conducted in the areas of the brain responsible for language creation. In the frontal lobe, “Broca’s area” is a region that is thought to be responsible for store creation. During an MRI, this area, along with certain areas located in the right pre-fontal cortex, light up when a subject is asked to make up a story.

In the same area of the brain, the anterior cingulate cortex exists. This area helps us make associations between unrelated concepts, which is how writers “fill in the gaps” between sections of the story and use simile to create visuals and understanding in their work.

These same areas are also involved with speaking, memory, and hand-eye coordination. This would suggests that there are non-writing exercises that can help stimulate the brain and “jump start” it out of writer’s block.

How to Beat Writer’s Block

Knowing the science behind writer’s block, it’s possible to develop some daily habits that will help stave off the issue as much as possible. For me, the battle against the block lies mostly in routine and organization. However, as does any writer, there are times where even the best organization methods are a futile effort.

Here’s how I typically combat writer’s block in my life:

Create an in-depth outline before you start.

I never start writing a story without an outline in place and I never rush into a story once the outline is complete. Typically, I outline a novel, then set it aside for a week or more before picking it up to write. Before I begin, I’ll give the outline a once-over read and refresh my memory on the evolution of the story. I will also use this opportunity to knock out any inconsistencies in the storyline now that I am approaching it with a fresh set of eyes and a clear mind.

If outlining isn’t for you, don’t worry. You can actually hire a developmental editor to do the work for you!

Stick with a routine.

Sometimes, you can avoid having to beat writer’s block simply by maintaining a routine that your brain recognizes. Set aside a certain time of day and train your brain to work its magic during that timeframe. Our brains are wired to love routine- this is why many of us wake up at the same time each day or use the bathroom at the same time each day, regardless of any changes in sleep or daily activity.

The same can happen with creativity if you work hard at developing a creative block of time as part of your regular schedule.

Write it badly first.

Not in the mood to write or think? That’s okay. Write it badly. Tomorrow, read it over and fix anything you need to. Often, when we aren’t in the mood for something, we are more hard on ourselves than need be. You’re still making progress, though, and- who knows- when you look back at it in better spirits, you might find that your writing wasn’t so bad, after all!

Find a different way in.

One way to beat writer’s block is to simply take another approach. It can be hard to find a way to open a chapter or scene, particularly if you’re worried about clunky dialog or setting a mood. Instead of opening the way you planned to open, try to tackle it from a different perspective or feeling. Often, this is enough to get your creative juices flowing.

Do something else for a while.

Don’t be afraid to walk away and do something else. Or stay at your desk! My favorite way to beat writer’s block at my desk is to take five minutes and play Writer’s Block the Game! Referring back to the science behind writer’s block, this is a great way to exercise your hand-eye coordination and fill in gaps, both of which get the part of the brain you need to write warmed up and ready!

Wrapping Up

Of course, everyone is different. My favorite ways to beat writer’s block might not work for you. However, if you’re looking for methods to try, I encourage you to give any of my battle techniques a shot.

What do you do when you get writer’s block? Do you have any tips to add?

0 views0 comments

If you ask anyone that knows me, they will all tell you that I love to write. I have made a career out of my writing over my twenty years in the publishing industry doing ghostwriting, editing, developmental planning, and more for other book writers. I have contributed to worldwide syndicates and won awards for my storytelling. I have a lot, career-wise, to be thankful for. With the impending release of the Tess Trilogy, I’ve begun to think a lot about my characters and the things in my own life that have inspired them.

I am proud of what I do, but the thing I am most proud of in the world is being a mom to my two amazing children- Meredith (18) and Hallie (17).

I was only about Meredith’s current age, though, when she was born, so there was a definite learning curve as I raised them.

Much like the young protagonist’s mother, Jolene, I faced abuse and hardship early on in my journey of motherhood and it left me with a hardened sense of what parenting is all about. I felt judged by my community for having made so many mistakes and bringing children into the world at such a young age when I wasn’t fully ready for the responsibility. As a result, I was probably more strict with my children than most other parents and I worried constantly that they would be seen as “street urchins” if there was even the slightest misstep in my child-rearing.

While this resulted in respectful and intelligent children, I can look back now and see where it also inhibited them from some of the natural freedom of childhood in their early years.

When I became serious with my husband, Nate, in 2013, the girls and I moved with him into a small farm he purchased from his retiring parents. Similar to Tessie’s father figure, Charlie, Nate has a much more lenient parenting style and was unafraid to tell me to lighten up when it came to the kids being kids.

Now, with farm animals to befriend and an acreage to explore, I really got to see the wonderment of my children come alive. They were seven and nine when we moved and it didn’t take long that summer for them to have the entire “forest” (it’s more like a shelter belt) behind our house mapped out from their expeditions.

It was on a quiet July afternoon that they brought me the rib bone they found. At first, I was a little rattled by the discovery. The length of the bone was suggestive of being a human, but after looking at it closer I knew the curvature was that of an animal. When they returned to the trees to play, they eventually found the deer’s antlered skull removing any lingering doubt.

It was that event that began to inspire the storyline of the Tess trilogy.

Tessie herself is a young girl living in rural Virginia. She has two younger siblings and a dog as well as a ragtag bicycle cavalry of friends. Together, they devote a summer to unearthing monsters in the woods surrounding Tessie’s home. Instead, they stumble upon the skeleton of a missing woman and a chain of events is set into motion that will forever change all their lives.

The character Tessie is inspired by my daughters. She has the frail, red-headed and freckle-faced appearance of Hallie along with all of Hallie’s serious and worrisome nature. However, she also has the adventurous sass and confidence of Meredith thrown in. There is a hardened innocence to Tessie that is trying hard to make sense of a world she already knows is often unfair and scary.

Maya Angelou once said, “Childhood logic does not ask to be proved. All conclusions are absolute.” This became Tessie’s mantra as I wrote the book.

Certainly, Tessie is on a quest to prove the existence of monsters to her parents, but she does not need to see them herself to believe they are true. She knows they’re out there because she has made up her mind that it is so. For Tessie, the belief in folk monsters is as serious as any religion.

My hope for the book series is that, while you read, you will also examine some of your one pre-conceived notions about life, your career, your parenting, and more.

In my early years of parenting, I was a Jo. I was too hard on my kids and strict beyond reason and it clipped their wings.

Later in life, I met my Charlie and he softened the edges of my parenting principles, allowing my children to soar.

Today, at 19 and 17, they are both entering their final year of college. As siblings that have done everything together and shared interests since infancy, it only makes sense that they are both entering the fields of graphic design and illustration.

Hallie, in fact, is providing illustration work for the creature glossary of the book series.

What has inspired you in your life?

What is an “absolute” of your own that you have questioned and altered to your benefit?

28 views0 comments
bottom of page