We all have those days where we sit on our computer and stare at a blank screen. That halt is commonly known as writer's block, the feeling of being stuck in the writing process and not knowing what to do next. It’s important to know you’re not alone. Even some of the best writers in the world suffer from writer's block. But we wanted to know how Wattpad writers get over it, so we asked some of our talented creators for their advice.
Switch up your environment and get creative
When writer's block hits, I switch up my setting. I’ll get outside, take a walk, or do something physical and then return. Sometimes moving the body is all it takes to get my mind moving again too. I also keep a journal log of story ideas, so that if I'm feeling blocked on a particular story, I can work on another story for a bit.
Something I’ll do to prevent writer’s block from taking hold in the first place, is make appointments weekly to go to my favorite coffee shop and write there. It's easier to focus and write when I'm not looking at everything else in my house I should be doing. When changing my environment fails, I switch up my mindset and get creative. I'll find a song that fits the vibe to my work, and then write out the lyrics to the song as it plays. Usually somewhere in the middle of an Imagine Dragons or Barns Courtney song, I find the writing muse again and it's enough to dive into the story once again.
- H.J. Nelson (@hjnelson), author of The Last She series
Take a break or just keep going
I produce work that I love when I’m inspired. So when I have writer’s block, I take a break. I watch my favorite shows, go for a drive, or focus on my other WIP.
But every day, whether I like it or not, I make myself sit on my chair and write a paragraph or two. I keep at it every day until I start to love what I see on my screen, and I keep going for an hour, two, three, four until I don’t even notice what time it is and I have written pages that I want to keep because I finally love the words.
- Isabelle Ronin (@isabelleronin), author of the Red Series and the In Love series
Set the rules aside
For me, writer’s block has always been a sign that I’m trying too hard to force a story to be perfect. I would set out to write some sort of great literature with every detail completely accurate and every plot point planned in advance—but that’s not realistic, and it’s not fun either. When I’m not having fun in the writing process, I end up dreading it and dragging my feet. (And what I write usually ends up not being that great.)
But you know who never gets writer’s block? Kids. If you ask a child to tell you a story, they will tell you a story. The story may not—and probably won’t—make perfect sense. Maybe pirates appear out of nowhere, then suddenly those pirates can fly. But that story will not be boring.
When I was a kid, I could sit with my dolls for hours acting out stories. I never had an outline or a plot in mind, I was just playing and exploring. Now when I get stuck while writing, I try to get back to that mindset and I write purely what I want to see happen. If I want a dinosaur to appear—why not? Can I make one of the characters a secret FBI agent? Just did. Sometimes you have to set the rules aside to create something really great.
- Lux Raven (@LuxRaven), author of the Siren's Mark paranormal series
Give writing sprints a try
There are different reasons for writer’s block. One could be a lack of planning. While I find being a pantser totally acceptable, it can also lead to writing oneself into a corner, or finding you just don’t know where the story is headed. Doing a bit of research, creating character sheets, or making a rough summary can help with getting over a creative slump.
Writer’s block for me is less about not knowing what comes next and more about overthinking. I have a picture in my mind, and I want it vividly painted on the first go. But we use a different part of our brain for editing than we do creativity. Dwelling on word choice and grammar creates a block, and I have to constantly remind myself that I can revise later to make it how I want. What I can’t do is revise a blank page.
Writing sprints where I force myself to type for a certain amount of time without deleting a single word helps me immensely with this. So, although I feel blocked right now as I draft out the next book in my series, I’m still sprinting to fifteen hundred words every morning. They may be awful, but I can build upon them later, add details, make changes, and pick and choose what works. You’ll find a lot of those ideas you were missing turn up when you force your brain into that creative space, and things become clearer once there’s something to look at.
- Wendy Cole (@Wendizzy), author of Finding Forever and Boulevard
Plot it out
I occasionally hit writer’s block, but my longest lasted six months. It was frustrating because I wanted to write something, but whenever I sat down, a blank page stared back at me. I was already halfway done with the story, but I couldn’t get myself to continue writing it.
Six months later, I finally started writing and completed the book within a month. What changed? Did inspiration fairies pay a visit? No. Here are some tips for you that now work for me whenever I hit writer’s block:
Outline. I’ve noticed I usually hit writer’s block when I don’t know what to write next or where I’m going in the plot. I know some of us are pantsers, but it doesn’t hurt to plan the major plot points and the ending of the story.
Take a break. Sometimes the plot or characters may exhaust us, consume our souls, and it takes the energy we need to keep going. Don’t fret about taking a step back for as long as you need and do something else like going on a walk, reading a book, watching a movie/show, etc.
Share it with someone. You may have a solid outline, but you may feel uninspired about a specific point/chapter. It always helps to discuss that point with someone, either to get their thumbs-up or feedback. After discussing and resolving the issue in your mind, I’m sure you’ll be ready to get to writing.
- Şevval (@beautlies), author of Baby Keeper and Land’s End
One way I’ve always gotten beyond writer’s block is to write ahead. When I was working on my book, May-December, I did this very often. I was writing it for National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), and I didn’t have three weeks to write a chapter. I would often skip scenes and entire chapters and sometimes write dialogue exchanges that were unplanned and completely irrelevant to the story.
I’ve found this works for me, regardless of whether I’m going in with no plan or a detailed outline. Skipping down my outline to write a chapter or two ahead, or writing down that scene I’ve been visualizing for months, always helped me make better sense of my work in progress and understand what I can do to fill in the gaps. It also helped me learn about my characters and work on incomplete background information that can later inform where I’m going with the story. I might not use every scene I write, and I might have to rework the chapter I wrote eons ahead, but what I’ve lost in words, I’ve gained back in confidence. I know more about my book. More about my characters, and more about the abyss I like to call the end.
A big part of this was letting go of my need for perfection. Things take time to develop. Rewriting and editing will happen regardless, and having words to rework is a lot better than staring at a blank page trying to figure out what is perfect at the moment. Imperfection is okay. It’s part of the writing process and will always be.
- Saint Caliendo (@saintc), author of Nerd Alert and The Genius
Talk to someone
Writer's block is a little bit like a virus—it affects everyone differently and there is no one cure for all. My writer's block was the hardest when I was world-building for a fantasy novel. I had never written fantasy before. I got so lost in my own head, wanting everything to be perfect and cohesive, that I got stuck.
Here are some things that helped:
Writer’s block exercises like ‘what if’ scenarios, dictionary prompts, or reading a past chapter. I realized it is okay to shake things up and do what I want. We are working with blank canvases, not paint-by-numbers.
Starting a new story or creating something else. Sometimes starting a new piece of work, or even just creating a hypothetical outline, revives that excitement to write. Or create a drawing, an aesthetic mood board, a playlist or write a song. Seeing the world you created in your head come to life is so much fun and can help you break through that slump.
Talking to someone. Writing a novel is a long process and it is okay to brainstorm and talk out ideas with someone else. Doing this gave me unique insight and inspiration. Even something as simple as ‘hey, what would you do if ___ happened to you?’ could inspire you.
Setting a routine. Something I have found the most useful is to take time to write every day. Even if it is only one or two sentences, it is still progress. Usually the momentum picks up through this process.
- Layla (@xThePineappleGirlx), author of Hating the Player and That Nerd
Whether you’re just starting out or you’re a seasoned writer, none of us can avoid experiencing a slump at some point in our writing career. However, it’s possible to get your creative juices flowing again and keep up with your writing goals (no matter how long you’ve been sidelined!).
For more inspiration, watch the first Story School video, Writer’s block and how to get over it, featuring Wattpad creators Matthew Dawkins and Loridee De Villa.
Plus, download our guide on how to overcome writer’s block.