Writer’s Block – Myth or Malady?

This was the question bandied about in the #WrMatters Tweet Chat on Thursday June 28th. And just in case you missed it, here are the topics that we discovered along the way. Unfortunately, what we did not discover was an answer to the question: does writer’s block exist as a real phenomenon?


Setting a deadline can help beat writer’s block, but constantly writing under pressure leads to lackluster content.

Michelle Walkden of Mich-Communication has some very definite feelings about the topic, feelings that she posted on her own blog. As a journalist and corporate communicator, Walkden is of the opinion that writing is a matter of discipline. If you find yourself staring at the computer screen, set a deadline and go for it. Use the pressure to squeeze the words out.

Co-hosts Shakirah Dawud and I agreed that most of our business writing is done with a deadline, but the writing we do for ourselves too often gets squeezed into the corners of the day. For those of us who are trying to write creatively, trying to build a bridge between our day jobs and a fledgling business, or trying to balance daily work with professional development, it can be tough to prioritize that writing while our inboxes groan.

Whether or not we set a deadline, the pressure mentality will eventually lead to lackluster content. We’ve all got for how to keep our content fresh.

5 Ways to Get Inspired about Every Day Content – Michelle Walkden

Beyond Fear: A Closer Look at Why You’re Writing – Shakirah Dawud

5 Ways to Refresh Your Palette – Michelle Baker

But one of the symptoms of writer’s block (if it exists) is that seeming inability find the verve in our vocabulary, the soul of the syntax.

For Shakirah, that’s when it’s time to play in the dirt. She finds that by doing something else while thinking about the writing project, she’s often able to rediscover that spark that made her want to be a writer in the first place. For her that’s gardening. After a while the fresh air, the exercise, the change in space, perspective, and perception coupled with some reflection on the writing material leads to a few words and phrases that would make any of us long for a pen, a computer screen, or perhaps even a voice notes recorder (my personal favorite).

Michelle and I both agreed that stepping away from the writing project is a good idea. For Michelle that’s in the form of getting a few minutes of silence, some alone time when she can gather her thoughts. For me as a visual writer, that’s engaging in some kind of colorful project, whether it be painting or making curtains or even putting together a puzzle.

Is writer’s block a real phenomenon? I don’t know. But I do know that we write to live. It’s our job. It pays the bills. It makes the world go ‘round. And for so many of us, we live to write as well.

If you’ve ever struggled with this question, and if you’ve discovered some answers, please share. That’s what this blog and #WrMatters are all about, building a community of professionals who write and who understand that communication is key! We’ll meet again on Thursday, July 12, 4 pm ET on Twitter. Use the hashtag #WrMatters to participate. We’ll see you there!

Photo courtesy FreeDigitalImages.net


  1. Nice blog.

    I think writer’s block exists, but it can certainly be remedied. For me, doing something different is the key. If time permits, re-visiting a job after a good night’s sleep does wonders – I’m sure the brain keeps working overnight.

  2. Craig Nelson says

    I’m not a believer in the dreaded writer’s block, although there are certainly times when the creative spark comes more easily. Imminent deadlines certainly mitigate against any blockage. At those most treasured times working on your personal masterpiece, without the impetus of deadline, the luxury of time to contemplate can lead me to a crisis of confidence – too much time to think about where to next. I have two remedies: write like mad, stream-of-conscious-like; or revisit previous writing as the more detached ‘editor’. Writing for me is a process of re-writing and re-writing, paring down, tweaking and refining. So, never an excuse not to be working on something. Oh, hang on, better check emails.

  3. Writer’s block – that dragon we all face, right?
    So many ways to do combat and so many ways to interpret what it is and whether it exists outside of our imagination.

    I wrote a 4-part series on the causes of writer’s block (and what to do about them). Here’s a link to the 4th installment (which includes links to the first three posts in the series): http://nhwn.wordpress.com/2012/04/19/writers-block-cause-4-and-big-hope-your-vision/

    And here is a post I came across last night that I loved: http://spinsucks.com/communication/overcome-writers-block-forever/ It’s giving me a whole new perspective on writer’s block and I may have to rethink my approach and advice! 🙂 (Always learning – always growing)

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