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5 Tips for Conquering Writer’s Block

vintage red quill pen with inkwell

Writer’s block can be a very demoralizing thing to happen to a writer. It comes out of nowhere and happens in various ways. Sometimes your mind feels completely empty. Like there’s nothing there. Other times you can come up with a character or a scene or a setting, but then …crickets. Your brain seems to freeze up on all that is essential to turn that tidbit into an actual story.

If you’ve never experienced writer’s block, lucky you! If you have, you know what I mean when I say it’s demoralizing. It can make you even start questioning if you’re meant to be a writer. After all, a writer should see a story in everything, right?

If you are experiencing writer’s block, I’m here to lift you up and give you some practical steps to get out of it today. Whenever I feel even a little blocked, I return to these five things to get my creative story juices flowing.

  1. Read/watch OUTSIDE of your genre.

We can learn a lot from reading inside our genre, but sometimes it can get a bit …predictable. I love challenging myself to read a book (or listen to one) that I wouldn’t normally pick up. While reading the story, I like to imagine how the author organized the story and came up with the characters, hook and plot. This goes quicker with movies and short series than a book, and it’s even better when you can find someone to join you to talk about the book/movie afterwards.

Try to look at it from a writer’s perspective and see how you might take a character or a subplot and write it from the perspective of your genre.

  1. Find someone outside of your generation to chat with.
younger woman and older woman

Go to lunch or brunch with someone who isn’t in your generation with the full intention of listening and asking questions the entire time. Give them and their stories your undivided attention. Don’t bring a notebook, that might be strange, but listen with the ear of a writer and try to pull on a thread that could be interesting.

So many people have fun stories about their life to tell. Even if you write fantasy or science fiction, it might surprise you to hear about an older man’s experience of crystal pulling in the 60s when Silicon Valley was mining crystals for computers (one of my experiences while doing this). You never know what snippet they might tell you that would work perfectly for your next story!

  1. Try your hand at prompted short stories.

One of the best places to go for this is storyaday.org. Julie Duffy, the founder and creator of Story A Day (I’m not affiliated in any way), has pages and pages of prompts, plus tips and advice on how to write a great short story. Short stories are an excellent way to explore a new character or scene. They don’t take as long to write as a novel and yet they must be a complete story.

My second novel, An Audience with the King, started out as a short story when I was in a writer’s block funk. Once I got past page 18, I realized I was not only over my writer’s block, but that I had an entire novel on my hands.

  1. Rewrite another story (not one of yours).

Rewrite the ending to a novel you loved with an ending you hated. Or write a fanfiction piece using a known character and putting them in a situation that better suits your taste.

This is an exercise that you can’t expect to use for publishing, unless it veers completely away from the original piece into something very much your own, but writing doesn’t always have to be done with publishing as the end goal. Sometimes we just need to write to hone our craft and creativity.

  1. Enter a contest with parameters.
Sparkles with grey background and confetti

This is my favorite way to get out of writer’s block. And my favorite contest to enter is the NYCMidnight.com contest. They have micro-fiction, flash fiction, short story and screenplay contests. But here’s the catch: you only get a limited amount of time (24 hours for the flash fiction, one week for the short story) AND you are assigned the genre of the story and two things that must be included.

And it’s so much fun! I always panic for a few seconds when I get my assignment, but then my brain is off and the next few hours/days are spent thinking about how to write the best story I can with what I was assigned. And the best part? You receive feedback from three judges.

On The Premises magazine (https://onthepremises.com/) also holds monthly contests with a prompt for flash fiction and several other magazines have contests throughout the year. What I find unique about MYC Midnight is their parameters.

Bonus: Pick up a fun writing prompt book or prompt course.

There are quite a few fun prompt books out there for writers. I have one for fiction writers called Push a Pencil: 40 prompts to Further Develop Your Creativity that you can get in paperback or ebook on Amazon or through me. There are also prompt books always in the discount section of Barnes and Noble.

A fun place to get some writing prompts is at Wildwriting.com (not an affiliate). Laurie Wagner uses poetry to get writers writing in her membership. You can find it at 27powers.org.

I also have a free five-day video prompt course you can check out by signing up here. For five days, you’ll receive a video in your inbox with both a fiction and nonfiction prompt. One of my clients started an entire novel from one of these prompts. You just never know where your own brain will take them!

Writer’s block happens to every writer at some point in their life. Remember, it doesn’t mean you aren’t a writer. Do not beat yourself up about it. Sometimes our brains need a break. I highly recommend taking some long walks, and then diving in with one of these five ideas. You’ll get your writing mojo back in no time!


About Kat Caldwell

Kat Caldwell
Kat Caldwell

Kat is a fiction writer, an Author Accelerator book coach, and hostess of the Pencils&Lipstick podcast. Her passion is to help writers write their story through encouragement and honing their storytelling skills. In between conducting interviews for the Pencils&Lipstick podcast and writing her next novel, you can find Kat traveling the world, reading, or volunteering with her church—always with a cup of cold brew close by.  

You can find out more about Kat on her website, KatCaldwell.com, and follow her on Instagram @katcaldwell.author.