What Writers Should Do When Drawing A Blank

As I write this, I am sitting at a local coffee shop.

There is a girl here who is about three or four years of age and she has completely taken over the shop.

The girl’s hair is tied up in a ponytail and she’s wearing a green and white striped t-shirt that’s a perfect mismatch to her pink shoes. She’s speaking in an unintelligible phrases and delightful squeals, and she’s prancing around the shop as if she owns the place—and as far as she is concerned, she does.

As an innocent bystander, it’s hard for me to be annoyed by her because, for one: she’s absolutely adorable. And, two: she is being her true, unencumbered self.

It is very hard not to be amazed by this girl’s audacious choice to be absolutely genuine in public.

The Magic of Unencumbered Living

It’s not often you see an adult be their true, unencumbered self in public.

No, we adults are way too insecure.

But children do this kind of thing all a time. When they do it, it’s sometimes arresting to all the adults in the room. But most of the time, when a child is simply being his or her natural, silly self, it is very endearing to everyone present.

A child like the girl I see at this coffee shop still doesn’t know that there’s anything wrong with squealing with the delight when she feels like squealing with delight. She doesn’t know that there’s anything wrong with running around a coffee shop, and playing an impromptu game of hide-and-go seek with her little brother, when she feels like doing so. She doesn’t know that there are some people out there who might not like what she has to say, or might not even understand what she says—no, a child like the girl at this coffee shop just says what she wants say simply because she wants to say it.

She doesn’t see anything wrong with just being herself.

And what a magical sight she is to see.

Laughing and playing and being free.

Meanwhile, all the adults in the room are sitting up straight, talking quietly, and trying desperately to look normal—they don’t want to stick out.

The Magic of Unencumbered Writing

When I’m writing, and I find myself drawing a blank, it’s usually because I’m trying to be someone else’s idea of a writer.

But it was not too long ago that I realized that when I tried being someone else’s idea of a writer, I got stuck. I got terribly stuck.

I wondered: “What will they think of me when I accidentally slip into my true nature, and they realize that I’m actually no Shakespeare? That I am, in actuality, no Dumas? That I am, after all, no Tolkien, no Williams, no Moraga, Hansberry, Valdez, or Lee?  Will they laugh at me? Will they scorn me? Will they raise their noses and look down at me?”

In the past, when I drew a blank, I would often ponder all these questions—and then I would get tangled up in them—and then I wouldn’t be able to move forward.

Write Like You: Stop Trying To Write Like Somebody Else

My job as a writer is to write as much like me as I can.

Why is this my job?

Because I’m the only writer that I can write like. I really can’t write like anyone else. If I try, then I have just guaranteed my failure.

So, when I’m drawing a serious blank, I try to remember to return to my unencumbered nature.

Rather than worry that I might not live up to someone else’s idea of a writer, instead, I try to ask myself:

“What if I walk around this passage like I own this place? What if I say anything I want, however I want, without the slightest fear that anything bad will happen to me? What if I stomp through this novel confidentially, and playfully, like I’m engaging in an impromptu game of hide-and-go-seek with the pages? What if I try to make the reader giggle with delight, just for the sake of making them giggle with delight? What if I just write like my natural, unencumbered self?”

When I start asking myself these kinds of “what if” questions, I stop holding myself back and, suddenly, something changes in me.

Suddenly, I’m liberated.

I’m confident again, and the writing flows out of me. My “blank” is filled.

Suddenly, my writing is a magical sight to see.

I’m laughing and playing and being free.

What Writers Need To Do When They’re Drawing A Blank

If you’re drawing a blank in your writing today, I suggest that you try leading yourself back to your natural, unencumbered nature.

I know, it sounds like a vague and abstract concept. But it’s actually not as hard as it looks.

Try this:

Just empty your mind, take a deep breath, and tell yourself that you DO NOT need to write like any other writer other than the one that you currently are. Don’t ask yourself to write like anybody else. Instead, ask yourself to write like you.

Then, proceed to write.

How Do I Know When I’m Writing From My Unencumbered Nature?

How do you know when you’re writing from your unencumbered nature?

Well, you know your writing from your unencumbered nature because the writing flows easily—the writing feels like home, and there’s not much strain in its execution.

You know you’re writing from your true, unencumbered nature when you can put your writing out there, and let it prance around the page like it owns the place; when you can let your writing speak in tongues that not everyone will understand, but that will delight people anyway (because the words will sound so daring and new.)

You know you’re writing in your true, unencumbered nature when you feel like you want to make your readers squeal with the delight, just for the sake of making them squeal with delight; when you finally stop trying to be a serious, boring, “grown-up” writer and allow yourself to play hide-and-go seek with your story.

You know you’re writing from your true, unencumbered nature when, for once, everything feels right.

It feels right because you’re no longer trying to be what everyone else wants you to be—or what you think everyone else wants you to be. It feels right because you’re no longer holding back your wonderful, unique majesty. It feels right because, for once—for once—you’re no longer afraid of what others may think of you.

When you write from your unencumbered nature, you will no longer draw a blank. You’ll be able to get the writing done.

What is more: your writing will be a magical sight to see.


Because you’ll finally be laughing, playing, and being free.

A guest post by Ollin Morales. He is a fiction writer,  freelance writer, blogger, and ghostwriter. His blog, Courage 2 Create, chronicles his journey as he writes his first fiction novel.  His blog was named one of The Top Ten Blogs for Writers by WriteToDone two years in a row (2011, 2012).

About the author

Ollin Morales

Ollin Morales's blog, Courage 2 Create, chronicles the author’s journey as he writes his very first novel. His blog offers writing tips as well as strategies to deal with life’s toughest challenges. After all, as Ollin’s story unfolds, it becomes more and more clear to him that in order to write a great novel, he must first learn how to live a great life.