Causes of writer’s block: Writing ideas for how to stop it before it starts

writer's block - crushed and crumpled paper on...

Writer’s block  (Photo credit: photosteve101)

Writer’s block hits everyone at one time or another. We don’t all just wake up perkily and generate writing ideas. Even the most creative and the most dedicated of us can sometimes get stuck thinking of a term paper topic or idea for a science project. Once you know the causes of writer’s block, you can take steps to prevent it. One tip is to consult sources like history books, health articles, modern literature, recent science articles, or anything that fits your topic and can jump start your project. Another tip is to practice stress relief techniques to get the creative juices working. Read on for more writing ideas for stopping writer’s block before it starts!

Causes of writer’s block

One of the major causes of writer’s block is dwelling on it too much. If you’re worried about it, it just might come true. The more time you spend thinking about writing something or getting a project started, the more you’ll fall into a pattern of thought or expectations that you won’t be able to get out of. What’s needed is a plan, new experiences and out-of-the-box thinking.

Purdue’s Online Writing Lab (OWL) at explains that writer’s block can be caused by:

  • not enough preliminary planning, brainstorming or outlining. Start by writing down the primary ideas you want to express.
  • a boring topic you’re forced to work with. Find an offshoot or aspect of it that interests you.
  • being too anxious or stressed out to begin thinking clearly. Take a minute to stretch, breathe, close your eyes and mentally focus on something relaxing.

Before writer’s block takes hold

Writer’s Relief offers “Tips On How To Beat Writer’s Block” before it hits, in the November 28, 2012,

  • Before writer’s block takes hold, scout out places near you for inspiration that can jump start creativity: a café, park, library, shade tree, ocean view or busy street for people watching.
  • If you’re feeling down about your writing, change your perception of the writing experience. Boost your spirits by making a list of your achievements and writings or projects you’re proud of.
  • Before you start feeling stressed out about a writing project, do an activity that usually relaxes you: baking, jogging, a soothing bath, a crossword puzzle, etc.
  • To inspire you and make your spirit soar, play a few tunes or read some poetry to get in the creative mood.

Or try these other suggestions before writer’s block strikes:

  • Write down many questions you have about the topic: who, what, why, where, when. That will generate some topics for further exploration.
  • Gather some friends who are in the same predicament and brainstorm ideas together. No idea is too silly — just throw out suggestions and create discussions.
  • Speak to your teacher. Have them clarify the topic and point you to resources.
  • Don’t talk yourself out of it. Doubt can overrun even the most diligent. Instead of a defeatist attitude, brighten yourself up with positive thoughts (and maybe some ice cream).

What if it’s too late?

If you already have writer’s block, try these tricks:

  • Flip through the pages of any magazine. Look at the pictures, read headlines and read the ads. Your mind will wander and you’ll start thinking differently.
  • Browse through’s topic categories to find information on a variety of academic fields.

Paul Joe Watson in the January 30, 2013, article “Overcoming (Copy)Writer’s Block” in suggests that you simply start with what you know. Brainstorm some ideas to start with, start writing and the rest will come in time as you develop your idea. Get to know the basics of what you’re writing. Create an outline, synopsis or major themes or goals that you want to cover. And remember: give yourself a break to clear your mind now and again. Have a cup of coffee, talk to someone or send off a few tweets. Then get right back in the game!

Writer’s block really have a hold on you? Think your paper is simply doomed? Check out our blog post, “Writing tips: Unique tricks to overcoming writer’s block” and get the creative juices pumping again.

What are some of your other tricks for preventing writer’s block? Tell us in the comments below!

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8 replies
  1. Kristen says:

    Telemarketers and fund raising solicitors provide the perfect sounding board for talking through your writers block. Especially if you begin with “You know? I am so glad you called. I have been working through something.” Most of them will sit through your entire thought process. They offer a whole new meaning to the term “perfect stranger.”

  2. Chris Rochester says:

    This article is a tad ‘ordinaire’ or whatever the French is for unenlightening. Rigourous reflective techniques are many and work. I’ve used/developed non-rule based/anything goes scripting to a point where, for the most, I need to ‘slow down’. Its truly a wondrous internalising process that works each time. Caveat: it can take you along a tangent. But doing it right now…a tangent today could be tomorrow’s main them, or the setting for the next piece of work, or my uncle wears marmite to bed. You get the picture. C’est magnifique.

  3. David Sheffield says:

    I don’t know when I started to have a Writer’s Block. I have that problem for many years even I have many things to tell, creative ideas, etc but Writer’s Block invade too fast cause me to pause, try to explore what was behind there that it robs. Yes, I feel good about myself. I am Deaf man in late 40’s. Self Imagination do help indeed. It take some time to remove pause. Yes, I am very happy, content and accept whatever they come. I understand that we are a solitary (alone) soul , that meant to be.

  4. Yusuf says:

    I had an experience which just coincides with this suggestion (although my experience is in an informal scenario). There was a need for me to pass a message to my intimate friend which is serious, so I decided to have a discussion with him. I found it very difficult to get him to my audience until the time I planned it and followed up the plan. I did many activities to inspire myself and remember about many others that say the same thing that I wanted to say to my friend. It went wonderfully well as I found the message passed to him any more difficulty.

  5. Carmenita Williams says:

    This is great information for emerging writers or those who need some kind of push to get started with writing projects. Some might find it “unenlightning” and you will always find dis-satisfied folks. This info serves as a boost for those who need it or a refresher for those who might also benefit.

  6. Carmenita Williams says:

    Interestingly, my problem comes at the initial stage of starting a writing project – the just getting started phase. Once I get past that, I am good to go. One technique I use to get into the mental mood is to do one of the ideas presented in this article – look at things related from others’ work, researching the topic, and talking with acquaintances, course-mates, etc – – and then the light bulb comes on and I am on my way. It is amazing how the brain works with this situation for each of us – eventually providing the direction we need to follow.

  7. Lyle says:

    I don’t have writers block, I have SLEEPERS block. No matter what I’m writing, action, drama, comedy….I fall asleep.
    I honestly thought I was a boring writer, but when I post my works or give them out to teachers- they say I’m a good writer and that I should continue with it.

    So, anyone knows how to combat this?

    I’ve tried coffee. Sadly, caffeine makes me sleep.

    • Anonymous says:

      Sleep is very creative. Don’t imagine that when you are sleeping you are not writing. Your mind is preparing the ground. As soon as you wake up, write down whatever is in your mind – scraps of dreams, feelings, bits of songs – whatever. Use them as your ingredients. You obviously spend some time writing as you finish things to hand in, so write in fits in starts if that’s what suits you, just do it!! Good luck!


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