12 Things to Do When the Words Just Won’t Come

There are things you can do to get through it.

1. Do something else that stimulates creativity — like playing an instrument or drawing a picture or building something with Lego. Get creative with your creativity. Sometimes it’s easier to dive into writing after you’ve spent some time, you know … not writing.

2. If something is clouding your creativity — like a task you’ve been putting off but keep thinking about — do the thing that’s taking up space in your brain. Free up the space you need to write.

3. Move to a new location — such as migrating from your office to a cozy corner somewhere else. If that’s not possible, switch word processors. That sounds weird, but you’d be surprised the small things that convince our brains we’re doing something new. Same work, different layout.

4. Get a snack. A hungry brain is deprived, not creative.

5. Write nonsense. Make sense of it later.

6. If trying to write one thing doesn’t work, try switching to something else.

7. If that doesn’t work, get up and take a walk. Let your mind wander. It’s OK to think about what you’re trying to write — sometimes a chance of scenery and some movement helps.

8. Activate your “inspiration triggers.” For me, this usually involves music. There are certain songs or certain genres of music that pump me up just enough to get me in the right headspace for writing. What triggers inspiration in you?

9. If you’ve never tried “stream of consciousness” writing, now might be a good time to give it a go. Set a timer and start writing, and don’t stop until the timer goes off. Anything goes. Just put words onto a page.

10. Don’t beat yourself up for not being able to come up with “good” ideas. There’s probably a reason, and it’s most likely not under your control. Forgiveness is powerful, even when the only one you’re forgiving is yourself.

11. Take a deep breath. Remember that we’re not always going to write our best words. Sometimes your best in the moment isn’t going to be the best you’ve ever been. It’s normal. Try writing anyway.

12. If you have to close everything out, call it quits for the day, and come back tomorrow, do it. If you let yourself rest now, who knows? You might have the most productive writing day ever tomorrow. Fingers crossed.


Meg is the creator of Novelty Revisions, dedicated to helping writers put their ideas into words. She is a staff writer with The Cheat Sheet, a freelance editor and writer, and a 10-time NaNoWriMo winner. Follow Meg on Twitter for tweets about writing, food and nerdy things.


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