Ways to Battle Writer’s Block

Back in 2008, I had a big writer’s block and I wrote this on my LiveJournal blog And I think Some of you All might relate.

I know. I know!

I am the queen of WRITE NO MATTER WHAT.

I am the princess of WRITE EVEN WHEN YOU DON’T WANT TO.

But I can’t write. I write two sentences and then I lose it.  

I think I’m one of those people who can only write when they are happy. And I’m not happy. I am so far from happy.  I know I always seem happy, but right now I’m really REALLY unhappy.

Writer people out there do you have advice?

I need advice.


I initially friends locked this entry back in 2008 because:

1. I liked to pretend I’m not neurotic in case I ever run for office again.
2. I didn’t want my mom to call and ask me what’s wrong.

But, I think maybe it’s better for people to see how all writers can be insecure or have bad days and how some of us can be open about it (not that it’s better to be open about it… it’s fine to be whatever way you are), but more importantly how freaking amazing the Livejournal community was at giving .id

Look at how nice people were. You guys were all so amazing. Crud. Now I’m crying. Bad Carrie, bad.

LiveJournal isn’t a space I hang out anymore, but I still have things archived and it showed me all this great advice and empathy that was out there and that? That makes me happy and have faith even when the world tries to take faith away from me.

Advice #1

 I think today calls for a warm blanket, a comfy couch, and a really good book.

Hoping you feel better soon…..

This counts as “advice I give, and really should take myself, but usually don’t”:

Advice #2

Maybe you can give yourself a set amount of time–15 minutes, half an hour, nothing drastic–and set some kind of timer, and tell yourself that for that time you will write, no matter how awful it comes out. And then at the end of that time, if you still feel awful and it isn’t working, you get to stop for the day and do something comforting. Probably you’ll end up stopping, but maybe you’ll get something you can use in that short time. And if you don’t want to stop, if it’s starting to work, then keep going. The one thing you’re not allowed to do is to beat yourself up over whatever you do or don’t get done, because that won’t help at all.

I know it’s weird, but I have to make those kinds of bargains with myself all the time!

Advice #3

Get away from your computer? Just sit and visualize your story for a while–could be several hours. Take notes if you have to, but don’t hold the pen or notebook in your hand when you’re not HAVING to scribble?

Tea? Chocolate? Play with the animals?

Good luck–it’ll come!

Advice #4

My advice is to wallow.

I mean it.


Write about why life sucks right now…then delete it.

Be home alone and rant and rave.

Throw a tantrum–kicking legs and all.


Bawl some more.

Let the writing sit.

Seven months went by for me, and look. You are still here, LJ Land is still here, my stories are still here, my agent (bless her!) is still here… My friends are all still here. Now, I’m not saying you should take a break from LJ Land, no way! I’d miss you too much! I’m just saying, it’s okay. It’s okay to not feel like writing.

Relax. Let yourself ‘not write’.

It’ll be there tomorrow and the next day and the next….


*hugs* and *chocolate*

Advice #5

Go watch some TV – an episode of something/a film you love, sad, funny whatever, it doesn’t matter. Give yourself and your brain a break. Then do the fool-your-brain thing – say you’re only going to write 100 words [or 50] and that will be it. Then pat yourself on the back for a good job done, and if you want to go for bonus wordage, then do the next 100. And tell yourself that it can be about anything.

And more *hugs*

Advice #6

This may cause your daughter to hate me forever and plot vengeance.

You need to dance. Put on the happiest song, (kudos if it’s a geeky, embaressing song) and dance in the living room. Revel in your geekiness and the groans of humiliation from others.

Don’t write. Read. Soak in hot, fragrant water. Drink/eat lots of chocolate. Visit your friends…the writing will be waiting for you when you come back. Till then, tons of HUGS and good thoughts, Carrie!!

Advice #7

Having emotions means you are not one of the sheeple.

If that doesn’t make yo smile, consider this: “The good writing of any age has always been the product of someone’s neurosis, and we’d have a mighty dull literature if all the writers that came along were a bunch of happy chuckleheads.” ~William Styron, interview, Writers at Work, 1958

If that doesn’t help, I suppose I could call and do the choo-choo thing and sing songs. But that’s really an emergency procedure.

Advice #8

Aw, Carrie! {hugs}

I’m a big believer in WRITE NO MATTER WHAT…unless you can’t. 🙂 I think there are times when I weasel my way out of writing because I’m being a slacker – that’s not cool. But there are other times that I take a break because I can feel inside that no matter how long I sit there stabbing keys, nothing worthwhile is going to appear on the page and in the meantime I’m feeling darker and darker inside (and not the good kind of dark, if that makes any sense).

Take a break (like everyone else suggested) – whether it’s for a day or a week or whatever. Be gentle with yourself. You’ll feel the whatever-it-is ease inside you when you’re able to sit at the keyboard again. Just make sure you’re paying attention and not coddling yourself *too* much. 😉

Last Thoughts

I hope one of those writers’ advice helps you if you’re here because of writers’ block. No one way will work for everyone. No one way will even always work for ourselves. Be gentle with yourself the same way you would be for the ones you love.





And to hear our podcast latest episode for DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE, all about Making Sexy Mission Statements and Writing Platforms, click here. And all about Why Brilliant People Sometimes Aren’t The Successes We Expect is here.

What To Do When Life and Writing Sucks – Be Your Own Damn Hero

Being your own hero in the story of your writing is a big deal and it’s something we all shirk from. If we are the hero of the story, of our own life’s story, what does that exactly mean?

It means we are in charge of our story as much as we can be. It means that our actions and words and choices define what happens next in the plot of our life.

Yes, sometimes random horrors or brilliant moments happen and those things aren’t (or at least don’t directly seem) caused by us. But, those moment are still… They are part of our journey and who we are is determined by the choices we make as a reaction to those moments of random horror or beautiful brilliance.

One way to get a bit of traction in how your story goes in your literary life is to define what Todd Henry calls “The Big Three.” These aren’t exactly priorities. They aren’t exactly projects. They are the big loops happening in your creative life right now.

Here’s an example of a Big Three:

What is the problem I’m solving?

How do I add more value to the world?

How do I make what I’m doing matter?

Making your own big three is a big deal. It’s a bit like the six-month goal sheet that we make at the Writing Barn, but it’s more loose. And it’s best used when you apply it to every stimuli that you see. When you are watching a movie, think about your big three for a second. When you’re at a random meeting or a soccer game, think about your big three. How are you shaping your life and your art? How is your art shaping the world? Does it matter to you? How? How not?

What you put your energy and time into matters. The things you do, your commitments, have to not be so overwhelming that the creative part of your mind shrivels up and dies. You want to and deserve to flourish. Keep the things that matter to you, add value to you, and pluck off the rest.

And remember, so many ideas and epiphanies happen when your mind is at rest – in the shower, driving in the car (sort of at rest), at the edge of sleep, working out. There is a reason for that. It’s in the white space that ideas sprout, that innovation has the room to occur.

Writers Write

So what do you do when you can’t write? If our actions define us, then do we stop being a writer if we stop writing? It’s a good question.

Bring On The Pressure

Some of us kick butt when the pressure is on. Death. Pandemic. Job loss? For some of us those things actually make us run to the page and write and process and puke up all the words.


For some of us? Well, we can only write when we’re happy and excited and things are going in a kick-butt ways.

So What Do You Do If You Are In The Second Group?

It’s okay to take a hiatus. If you hold your breath, you don’t stop being a human. If you take a writing pause, you don’t stop being a writer.

Are you afraid that if you stop writing that you’ll never write again? If so, you need to get a support group to help you talk through that. You need people to keep you accountable.

Channel Your Inner Oprah

Be about the self care. That doesn’t mean binging Tiger King or running six miles while drinking green shakes made of kale. It’s about finding the right way to journey through your day, your week, your month and finding a balance. Find the things that make you happy and put them on your to-do list for a half hour a day. Make it a priority to make yourself happy and balanced. Don’t be all about work. Don’t be all about other people’s needs. Don’t be all about not writing. Take care of your damn self.

When people are hurt? They need to recover. Allow yourself to recover.

I am trying terribly hard to start running again. I am a person who actually has to wear knee braces when I run so my knees don’t pop out. Full disclosure: My knees pop out just sitting in a chair for three hours. And when they pop out? I can’t run for two weeks or so.

Running is my favorite thing to do.

But I have to pause every month or so and stop and let myself recover.

Writing and our brains can be like this, too. We need to give them time to revitalize, get strong. 

So how do we do that?

Create A Plan Of Action

Let’s say you’re a writer as a full-time job. You kind of have to keep writing to keep paying for your food, your house, and so on, right? What do you do if you are having a crisis of faith and brain?

  • Make a scheduled time plan and stick to it. Figure how long each tasks take and when the deadlines are and do a bit each day.
  • Remember why you are writing in the first place. 
  • Try to remember that things are almost always temporary and change is a natural state. This is how I get through almost every bad feeling and experience. I know that it can’t last forever. Sometimes I have to chant that to know it, but it works.
  • If something isn’t essential, put it at the bottom of your TO DO list. Like laundry. You don’t get to do laundry until you’ve written 300 words. That sort of thing. I do this all the time.
  • Take care of your darn self. Drink water not just tequila. Have a salad not just Doritos. Keep your body strong.
  • Check in with others. Find people who aren’t full of judgement and who are supportive. Check in with them every day. A little accountability and support go a long way in making you feel less alone. I promise.


The podcast link if you don’t see it above. Plus, it’s everywhere like Apple Music, iTunesStitcherSpotify, and more. Just google, “DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE” then like and subscribe.

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This week’s episode link. 

Last week’s episode link 

Link to Sam Spellacy’s interview.

Link to Cara Sawyer (librarian of awesome) interview. 

A bonus interview with Dr. J.L. Delozier, Pennsylvania doctor and writer. 

bonus interview with poet and coach Fiona Mackintosh Cameron. 


I have a new book out!!!!!! It’s an adult mystery set in the town where we live, which is Bar Harbor, Maine. You can order it here. And you totally should. 

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