How to Overcome Writer’s Block

    Why does writer’s block wipe out more than just the ability to write?

    Not only are you unable to string a few words together, but you also can’t seem to remember any advice on writing, plot or character development. It’s as if everything you knew has been obliterated.

    The more desperate you get, the more omnipotent the block seems to become.

    There’s your character, sitting listlessly, waiting for you to come up with something, and all you can do is stare back at him.

    What was it Anne Lamott said in Bird by Bird?

    Didn’t Kurt Vonnegut make a useful suggestion at some point?

    Can’t Google get creative and tell you what to do?

    You know there are specific ways you can think about character and plot development that might get the words flowing, but even as you try to remember them, it seems too late. The blockage has taken over everything.

    If you want to know how to overcome writer’s block, read on.

    Wouldn’t it be ideal if you had a map you could follow? A map to help you overcome writer’s block; one that tells you what to do when you get stuck?

    Well, here it is!


    You have a character that isn’t working. Have you tried making him want something – badly?

    That was what Vonnegut advised: “Every character should want something, even if it is only a glass of water.” What could your listless fellow want?

    What about that stubborn plot issue? Consult the map again.

    Why don’t you fast-forward to several scenes ahead – even through to the end, if necessary? Having a clear idea of where you’re going can often show you where you are.

    The map reminds you to try various approaches to find solutions to diverse problems.

    So the next time you find yourself staring back at a character, locate the map. Check whether you’ve considered other ways around that seemingly intractable problem.

    You might find your way out of the Land of Block much sooner than you expected.

    Give it a try and share your thoughts and experience in the comments.

    About the author

      Natasa Lekic

      Natasa Lekic is a freelance editor at NY Book Editors, a New York-based team that offers editing and copyediting services to writers. If you’d like to get more editorial advice, subscribe to their email editing tips at

    • redrackham says:

      In the end, every line leads to one solid conclusion:

      [Stop procrastinating, keep writing]


      Nice advice though. Now it's easier for me to remember a lot of writing advice / tips / trick just by following this simple guidelines.

    • This is just what I need at the moment! I’ve started a new project and I’m finding it particularly difficult to get beyond the first chapter! Have ticked off all the obvious distractions which I have to contend with on a daily basis and will now work through this chart!

      Thank you!

      • Happy you found the chart! You’ve dealt with the hard part — distractions — so now writer’s block should be easy to contend with.

        Write on!

    • NyBookEditors is ecstatic to announce that your writer’s block days are finally over with! The 11” x 18” writer’s block map poster is available for purchase at:

    • Amy says:

      Fabulous! (and so tidy!) I am sending this to all my ariting students immediately!!!!! Thanks! xo amy

    • Celise says:

      Ditto to what Michelle said. I want a poster, too!

    • Michelle says:

      Please let me know when the poster is done! I want a copy, definitely, but my husband would have a petulant frenzy if I were to print this out on our home printer…

    • Thank you for this!

    • davito dan says:

      Hi Editor
      Thanks editor, you have make my writing more as easy as you think. This map is fanatic………

      looking forward you have more from you.

    • Eva says:

      I’m a week away from setting up a home office. This HAS to go on the wall! Nice graphics.

      • yay!!
        We’re also getting a white version made, since it seems this one takes up too much black ink…

    • Thank you so much for this map. It might help me get my characters out of a tight corner I wrote them into. Now they glare at me, waiting for me to come up with the Ah-Ha! moment that will either get them out of this jam quickly with a “Whew!”, or have them experience an intense, suspenseful and exciting way to work through it. As you can tell, I’m leaning towards the latter option.

    • Sometimes I mistakenly think that I’m suffering from writer’s block when really my muse just needs time to work, behind the scenes. I’ve found that pushing forward results in poor writing. So, instead, I simply write. I don’t work on the project. I just fill the page with whatever is on my mind. Remembering how to have fun on the page reduces stress and soon my muse is dancing with inspiration.

      • That’s a very good strategy. You’re allowing your subconscious to operate in the background while you continue to work on something else. I want to add that to the map. Thanks.

    • Haha, absolutely true. Just getting one sentence out after another is key. Great post!

    • surinderleen says:

      It is good. Now I have written a novel. However, its first chapter is not good. It is not like a hook. Please give me instructions how can I write this first chapter after completion of my novel. It should be like a hook. It has become like a block in competion of my novel.

    • Jevon says:

      Wow. a bit confusing at first glance, but following it makes sense. Definitely worth keeping for later.

    • Beth Havey says:

      VERY COOL, thanks.

    • Amy Morgan says:

      Natasa – this is very timely – and going to the color printer TODAY to be hung in my writing area TONIGHT. And maybe this weekend, I can get past this wall that’s stopped my writing. Thanks for dropping this piece on my doorstep!

      • Let me know if it helps! We’re going to start making posters, so any advice on what works and what doesn’t is welcome.

    • Allison says:

      Oh. My. Gosh.
      THIS IS BRILLIANT! Thank you SOOO much for putting this up here–exactly what I needed!
      I’d like to shake the hand of the person who made this map–went ahead and printed it out, because that’s how much I love it and need it (oh, there goes all my black ink…oh well…)

      • So happy to hear that! Just this morning, we were persuaded to make a poster out of it, so hopefully other black ink cartridges can be saved.

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