What to Write When You Don’t Know What to Write: A Writer’s Guide to Writer’s Block


It’s time to write. You’re sat in your favorite place in the house, library, coffee shop, or any special spot where your creativity blossoms. As you open your laptop, maybe taking a moment to stretch your hands and wrists, you feel the excitement building up. You are a literary composer, conducting words into a rhythmic flow of delightful stories. An artist, creating a painting of elegant composition. You take a deep breath and roll back your shoulders, ready to begin.

You’re hit with a sudden feeling of dread as you stare at the blank page before you, hands hovering over the keyboard paralyzed, unable to press down on the keys. It’s as if you’re frozen, but time keeps moving. The clock ticking away, minute after minute, as you desperately search for words, names, phrases, just anything to get yourself started.  A skilled mind so used to crafting the most beautiful sentences on a page, seemingly empty in its desperation to articulate that incredibly original idea you had the night before. You may have even written some notes down in bed, scribbling across a notebook messily in an attempt to get it all down before you forget them, only to look at the words the next day as if they were in a different language.

The frustration begins. The feeling you’re incapable of writing, that you always have been, and shouldn’t have even bothered in the first place. What’s the point? you think.

Stop that thinking right now. Don’t get discouraged. Just because you’re struggling at the moment doesn’t mean that you’re any less of a writer. It happens to all of us. Even the best novelists of our time and throughout history have sat; ink and quill, typewriter, pen, and keyboard at hand; paper blank in front of them for what may seem like a millennium. Instead of doubting your capabilities as a writer, ask yourself What can I do to overcome this obstacle?



“Sometimes ideas just come to me. Other times I have to sweat and almost bleed to make ideas come. It’s a mysterious process, but I hope I never find out exactly how it works.”  

J.K Rowling

Here are a few tips from one writer to another on how to combat writer’s block:

1. Walk Away

Put down your pen! Close your laptop! Shut your notebook! Sometimes walking away from your writing and taking a break will help you organize your thoughts.

2. Go Outside

If you’ve been inside all day writing and find yourself at a loss of what to write, then try going outside. Sometimes fresh air can help clear your mind and relax that pent up stress.

3. Brainstorm

Sometimes you’ve just got to write anything and everything down. Don’t worry about full sentences or making sense, just write down whatever pops into your head. When you feel like you’ve got enough material down, take a look at what you’ve written and see if you can use any of it.

4. Call a Friend

You’ve got so many ideas but can’t figure out how to get them onto paper. Call up a friend and talk to them about it. Sometimes talking to another person can help you make sense of what’s in your mind.

5. Push Through It

Most importantly, don’t give up on your writing. At some point, you’ll have to sit down and work. Sometimes the best thing you can do it push yourself until words become sentences and sentences become stories. Tell yourself that you can do this, because YOU. CAN. DO. THIS.



“The scariest moment is always just before you start.”

Stephen King



About Author


Luna Pate

Luna Pate is the Editor-In-Chief for Odyssey. She is a Santa Barbara local working towards a BA degree in Liberal Arts. She is interested in finding a career that allows her to continue to explore her passion for writing. Her writing extends across a variety of literary genres, but she is most passionate about fiction, social justice and academic writing.

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