It’s a fact that some days writing is harder than others. In the same way that some days it’s harder to make a decision or complete a simple task. Blame it on Mercury being in retrograde or a poor night’s sleep, but deadlines are deadlines and aren’t interested in why it is you’re not writing.

It doesn’t seem to matter if you’re writing a novel or an academic paper, a thesis or job application, if it involves writing, it can feel impossible. But is it “writer’s block”? And if so, what can you do about it?

There are various trains of thought when it comes to writer’s block – is it a real condition or just procrastination? By giving it a name are we creating “an artificial construct that justifies a discipline problem.” Psychologist Steven Pritzker (co-editor of “The Encyclopedia of Creativity”) would say so.

The secret to overcoming writer’s block seems to be to sit down at your computer and start writing. And before you shout, “But that’s the whole problem, I can’t!”, there are various tried and tested methods you can put into practice that might make it a little easier for you.

Woman sitting at a desk trying to deal with writer's block - 6 top tips to overcome writer's block.

6 suggestions to help you get past your writer’s block.

1. Get away from distractions

Sometimes our everyday lives simply get in the way.  Be it noisy family members, the dog that wants a walk, those clothes that need putting away, the kitchen floor that still hasn’t been mopped, the parcel that’s now being delivered – all these interruptions and distractions can play havoc with our concentration.

If you can, remove yourself from your everyday distractions. If space allows, create a separate writing nook in your home or better still a backyard shed - that separation from daily life really helps you focus. The ultimate distraction destroyer is to really get away - book yourself a holiday cottage or hotel room.  Once there, and all the noise of your everyday life has faded away, you’ll find you’re left with a clear mind.  You'll feel a sense of, ‘Wow, why can’t I live like this all the time?  This is perfect; there’s just me and this space.’

Create your own space to help get past your writer's block
A quiet spot to get all your ideas down on paper

2. Create your ideal workspace

Take the time to prepare your space. Masterpieces have been written on the back of envelopes standing up on a crowded train I’m sure, but if you have the luxury of your own area in which to write, which you can govern, treat it with respect and optimise it; make it a place you want to be. Remove anything that doesn’t need to be there, to prevent distraction or procrastination, and if you have a motivating quote, that cuts through all your self-talk, put it in front of you on the wall. Mine reads ‘All we have is now’. Make sure you’re the right temperature, that your seat is comfortable, and your screen is at the right height. By doing all this preparation, you are maximising your chances of actually getting some writing done.

3. Understand your biorhythm

The best time to write is when you’re most alert, and that is different for each of us, as we each march to the drum of our own circadian rhythm. Are you an “early bird” or a “night owl”? Scientifically it’s been proven we are each at our most alert a couple of hours after we wake – so, if you are able, plan your writing schedule around your own natural waking times.

Sunset at Wombat Bend
Man sitting at a desk reaching for an alarm clock. Writing at the same time each day can help with writer's block

4. Same time every day

Many writers attribute their success to their regular writing habit. Same time, same place, every day. When something becomes habitual, it also means it is more likely to happen. It worked for John Grisham! As an attorney he spent long days at work, so every morning without fail he was at his desk to write at 5.30 am. “These little rituals,” he said, “were silly and brutal, but very important.” Discipline is essential. Commit to that time. You have an appointment with yourself; do it religiously, show up and follow through and don’t let other things take priority.

5. Write in blocks of 25 minutes

Francesco Cirillo developed the Pomodoro technique, the premise of which is that ‘people are most productive in 25-minute blocks’. After that we lose focus, our minds wander and we’re not effective.

So, set a timer on your phone, to clock on and off, you can even download a productivity timer app. Then, and here’s the crucial part, don’t let yourself be interrupted (that means your phone is on silent, facing away from you and switch off your email, pre-fill your water bottle, and no getting up to get more coffee). Do whatever it takes, to sit and power through.

After 25 minutes, take a much-deserved break for 5 minutes. Stand up, make that coffee, do some stretching, walk a bit, then after your 5 minutes (make sure you time it, or you’ll find half an hour has passed and you’ve been distracted), set your timer on your phone for your next Pomodoro 25 minutes of work. After four Pomodoros, take a longer break.

Grab a stopwatch or set an alarm on your phone to help you stick to set focus periods
Writing in a notebook - Get your ides down first

6. Ideas first, then perfection - Just write

Trying to write THE perfect sentence will ultimately lead to writing paralysis. Don't sweat the small stuff, leave the finessing. You’ll end up after a day’s graft with one poorly written sentence, that has been re-written 100 different ways. Forget spelling and grammar and brilliant dialogue. Just start writing. Every perfect sentence began life as an idea, with multiple crossings out, before becoming a few words on a page.

If you need a completely different location to get away from distraction and the usual routine we have the perfect solution so you can get past the block and actually finish your writing - organise yourself one of our Writer's Retreat Packages.