5 Things You Can Do When You Have Writer’s Block


I write every day. But sometimes I just can’t get that ball rolling. I wind up sitting here spending most of my energy trying to resist the temptation to click over to my web browser. Even if I do somehow manage to avoid the Internet, sometimes I’m not feeling it, I’m just staring at this blank Word document, hoping that whatever it is inside of me that allows me to put words on the screen will click.

Fortunately, this happens to me all the time, and by now I have ways to avoid getting stuck in the quicksand that other writers might label “writer’s block.” See, I don’t believe it exists. Like right now, I can’t think of anything to write about. But I’m still writing. See? And you just read it. I’ve got plenty of tricks up my sleeve. Here are five things to write about when you’ve got nothing.

1. Write about not having anything to write about

It’s kind of like what I already wrote, before l made it official by putting it into a list. Just start writing about how empty your brain is, how you’ve been sitting here for hours, at first not really too concerned by the strange vacancy inside your mind, but as the clock has ticked away, now you’re starting to panic, like where did your morning go? Didn’t you set certain goals for myself? Shit, you have to leave for work in twenty minutes, you haven’t eaten anything, and you’ve got nothing to show for all of the time you’ve spent sitting at this computer.

Well, not nothing. You’ve got this. Sure, it’s not much. But they’re words. They don’t have to necessarily be about anything in particular. Just keep going, they’ll accumulate into sentences and, eventually, entire paragraphs. That’s not a bad start, considering you didn’t have anything to work with.

2. Keep going, write even more about not having anything to write about

Of course you’re skeptical. I used to be skeptical too. That first experience, sitting down to a keyboard, struggling even to form the most basic of thoughts. I said to myself, I’m done. I’ve just started as a writer, and I’ve exhausted everything I’ve had that was worth writing down. Is this what writer’s block feels like?

But luckily for me, I happened to be writing it all down, that fear of never being able to come up with anything interesting ever again. It was like a tick. My fingers did the worrying for me as they typed out my frustration regarding my lack of any original ideas. Hell, I would have even settled for something totally unoriginal, but when I say my mind gets empty, I’m talking like totally devoid of any activity whatsoever. Somehow, this doesn’t affect my ability to type. So just go with it. Sure, it might not read back as anything substantial, but get up for a second, take a few steps back from your computer screen. Now take a look. You can’t make out the words, right, but from this view it looks like a lot of writing. Like if you took a photo of the screen and blurred out the words, someone might look at it and go, wow, that looks like a lot. That’s got to be something, right?

3. You’ll eventually get an idea, so run with it

You look at what you’ve got so far and, sure, it’s not really anything worth reading, but it’s true, it’s already a full page of text. And that’s based on absolutely nothing. So now you get energized, you’re really confident. You think to yourself, maybe I can pull this off. Maybe I don’t really need to know where I’m going, I’ll just sit down and type, and through the action of putting words to the page, maybe it’ll stoke the creative fires.

And so you get really jazzed up for a second, you get this whole idea about writing a clever piece about not having anything to write about. Like maybe if you make it into a list, it could be like a clever little play on the form. Like you’ll try to make it look intentionally lacking in direction, as if that was all a part of the plan, to get to this, these new inspired thoughts about … where were you going with this? Wasn’t all of this kind of coalescing into some larger point about … were you going to make a point about writing? What was the plan again?

4. You lost it, but try to write your way through

Yeah, that happens all the time. You’ll get really pumped up for a second about what you thought was going to be a good idea about … something … whatever it was. Was there anything even there in the first place? Or was it just pure emotion, that feeling like you had it, like you escaped the clutches of not having anything to say? You got way ahead of yourself, you just assumed that those vague feelings of fleeting vision might somehow carry your content to the next level.

But it died off. And that’s OK. Because, seriously, look at all of the words you’ve written down. If you don’t have anything to write about, isn’t it better to at least have it documented? That way, when you’re lying awake in bed at the end of the night, letting those fears of “What am I doing with my life?” and “Do I really have what it takes to be a writer?” make you second-guess whether or not you should’ve been a business major, you can at least sleep it off, let the anxiety taper off somewhat, and again, look at all you’ve accomplished. For not having anything to say, look at this. It’s long. It’s written. And you did it.

5. Apologize to your readers for subjecting them to this garbage

Do it profusely. Apologies are good because they add a nice closing paragraph or two to your eight hundred words or so of non-content. Point out how long and boring this is. Acknowledge that, if you were in their position, you’d be scratching your head in confusion also, asking yourself out loud, “Why did I actually read this all the way to the end? There’s nothing here.”

But seriously, if you’re reading this sentence, I can only hope that you for some reason skipped all the way to the end. Don’t bother going back up, because there’s nothing here. It’s all filler. It’s like the high fructose corn syrup of the Internet. And if you are unfortunate enough to have read the whole thing, look, it’s not my best, but it’s here. And I’m sorry. I’m really, really sorry.