Writer's Block-why you experience it. Possible Avenues To Get Unstuck Roz Denny Fox

Writer’s Block is real, and the most common cause is fear and self-doubt.
Five of the most common fears:
1.       1.     Fear of Failure
2.      2.  Fear of rejection
3.      3.  Fear of success
4.       4.  Fear of not pleasing everyone
5.        5.  Fear of running dry
Stress can also interfere with the creative process.  A major life crisis can sap the flow of thoughts and words.  As can something as simple as concern that you aren’t as good a writer as­­_______(fill in the blank.) 
Some general things to do that may help: Exercise—it makes the blood flow to the brain.  Avoid sugar—it gives you a false high.  Reaffirm your love of writing.  Change creative gears—draw, paint, take pictures.  These relax the subconscious.
If being stuck is all it is and not full writer’s block.  Put yourself in the heroine’s shoes and figure out what you’d do next.  Try to name 3 things that will advance your story. Give new information.  Skip to a future scene.  Consider a new conflict.  Introduce a new character.  Kick up the emotional awareness.  Change direction of story line.  Rewrite the scene from another character’s point of view.  Move to a different setting.  Pick up or slow the pace.  Don’t be afraid to delete the scene and start anew.
Understand that getting stuck is normal.  Don’t stress.  Stop for a brief time and take a walk, or do something you’ve put off doing.  These often prime the creative pump.
Remember some pointed quotes and avoid the traps:
Budda—“All that we are is the result of what we have thought.”
The Bible—“As man thinketh, so is he.”
Emerson—“There is no thought in any mind but it quickly tends to convert itself to power.”
Henry Ford—“Whether you think you can or think you can’t, you’re right.”
Samuel Beckett—“Ever tried? Ever failed? No matter—try again.  Fail again.  Fail better.”
Last advice: Don’t panic.  Know that writer’s block is usually temporary.


  1. Oh Roz, avoid sugar... Then, my clothes would fit!

    And, if I introduce a new character my critique group yells at me. (Seems I do this one too much LOL)

    What I need to do, like you suggest, is learn to write the scene from another character's point of view.

  2. All fantastic advice and so true! Avoid sugar, that's a tough one. I like to use chocolate as a reward for a good day of writing. ;^) I sometimes write while walking on the treadmill, on the stairmaster and sometimes the eliptical machine. May I mind you the speed is not at a high setting, yet challenging and sometimes the writing is difficult to read later. I'll need to remember some of the other suggestions, if I find the need to use them.

  3. Pam, You just said yesterday that you didn't suffer from writer's block, and I can believe you don't. But I've met people who have and mostly I think it's one of the fears that have stopped them.

    Jody, writing on one of the exercise machines sounds really difficult. But since I work out a lot of character problems on my walk, I'm sure you can write up a storm--and stay fit.

  4. My favorite device for getting unstuck, especially if it's a plot problem, but it works with character hangups too, is "Kill somebody." It doesn't have to be a murder, though it can be, of course. But kill one of your secondary or peripheral characters. You may eventually decide not to go that route in your story, but it's bound to get you out of the doldrums.

  5. Oh, Ken, that's great. Reminds me of a workshop I attended by Clive Cussler when he said if you're having trouble with a sagging middle, send your characters out in a boat and sink it.

  6. Awesome post. Probably every writer has faced writers block at some point and your advice is spot on!! Thanks

  7. Great Post Roz,

    I usually get stuck when opening a new scene. So I write the first sentence. (And allow myself to write something bad - but at least I've picked my POV)

    Then I get up, do something, and find that it percolates in my subconscious.
    When I come back to the computer -- I can usually get words on a page. And I always allow my first drafts to be hot messes. I can fix it in the rewrite!

    1. Nan,
      Hey, your tip is going to help me with a part of a panel workshop I'm doing at one of the libraries in February. I have: openings. There isn't much info out about starting a book. So thanks,

  8. Roz - great stuff! Have used all those devices at one time or another because I'm usually in fear of everything! "Don't be afraid to delete a scene," is excellent advice. I sometimes follow a thought in two or three different directions just to see where it'll take the story. It slows me down, but usually helps me find the right course. I think also, those of us who've been around a long time tend to write with the editor in our heads. Which is good on one hand because you have to be doing what the market wants, but on the other hand, it's better for the story if we write fearlessly and do what's nagging at us. As Nan said, I can fix it in the rewrite.

  9. Great suggestions Roz. I need to try them. I'm stuck on the series of life crises. sigh. You've always been an inspiration to me. Thanks, Sandra

  10. Roz, a super post! I usually trying writing in another POV when I'm stuck. Many times I discover that the reason that I'm stuck is because I've been trying to write the scene in the wrong POV.

    I'm looking forward to trying some of your ideas.

    Suzanne Moore

  11. Thanks for all of you who have chimed in today. Being stuck isn't like being blocked. Thankfully most writers only experience being stuck. And shaking up your routine is probably the best method to get back on track.
    Does anyone have an idea as to why I have 2 sets of numbers when I listed the 5 common fears? My Word document only has one set. Blogs remain a mystery to me.

  12. Roz - Who cares? It's a great post and judging by your responses, very useful to all of us.

  13. Wow, these are great ideas! Thanks, Roz!

    I have experienced full writer's block that lasted over a year. Stress and family health issues drained me physically, mentally and creatively. I felt paralyzed. But thank God, that time passed. I still get stuck, but nothing like that year.

  14. Wonderful post Roz, ans I definitely notice an increase my my creativity when I am taking care of myself. One thing that happens for me when I get writers block is usually Ive messed something up in my story and don't consciously realize it yet. I've missed a plot point, I'm wondering off on a lovely side road that doesn't have anything to do with the main plot line and isn't going any where, or I'm in the wrong place and need to re-work something.
    Next time that happens I'll try going for a walk or getting a chore done and see if that speeds things along!


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