5 Ways to Kick Writer’s Block in the Butt

writer's block kick it ylva publishing lesbian fiction

There are two things that terrify writers: running out of caffeine and writer’s block. The first can be solved with a trip to Starbucks; the second is harder to fix. Writer’s block is an insidious disease that seems to strip every ounce of creativity from you body and replace it with the overwhelming urge to play Candy Crush on your phone for five hours (or so I’ve heard…from a friend).

It’s also the one thing that almost all writers experience at some time or another. It can last for days, months for even years – looking at you, George R.R. Martin. So how do we overcome it? There are a hundred tips and tricks, but these are the ones that personally work for me.

Implement a Writing Schedule

Carve out a time to write and then write. Sounds too simple, right? But I find that if I just settle on a time and force myself to be there, words come, even if they’re not the words I want or need. Eventually, some of those words help with the story. Graham Greene famously wrote 500 words, and only 500 words, every morning. Sometimes 500 words feel impossible, other times, they fly by. Find a word count that words for you and stick to it.

Think of Writing as More a Regular Job, and Less an Art

Yeah, yeah…we’re all great artists, architects of literature and lesbian love stories. But like any job, writers are faced with deadlines, commitments and the need for structure. In his book, On Writing (which I highly recommend), Stephen King, uses the metaphor of a toolbox to talk about writing. He says that if we think of ourselves as workers, it’s easier to sit down and write. We’re just putting words on the page, after all, one beside another, as a bricklayer puts down bricks. At the end of the day, we’re just creating things. This sometimes helps to take the pressure off the need to “make art” and alleviates the anxiety that comes with writer’s block.

Reconsider Your Writing Space (it’ll confuse your writer’s block)

There was a post going around recently which encouraged writers to share pictures of their writing spaces. I loved how different everyone’s desks/kitchen tables/local coffee shops looked. Writing spaces are so incredibly important. If your space isn’t working for you, consider changing it up. Think about how you can create or find a space you’ll look forward to being in. It’s amazing what a new, fresh space can do for your writer’s block.

Make Like a Witch and Banish that Writer’s Block!

Part of perfecting your writing space is laying down some sort of ritual. When I start writing, I have to have a cup of coffee. It’s a message to my brain that we’re about to start this process. Author Toni Morrison and many other writers emphasize the importance of writing rituals, a set sequence of actions that you perform before you sit down to write. It could be as simple as making a cup of tea or playing one of your favorite music CDs. A ritual helps you mentally prepare yourself to start writing.

Mess with the Time-Space Continuum and Write Out of Order

Something I learned early on that has saved me countless times, is that you don’t have to start at the beginning. It’s so simple, and I’m sure many writers write out of order, but I find that if you have no idea where to go next, jump ahead a few chapters and write a scene you’re excited about. Pull your characters out of wherever they are in the narrative and drop them in the end. Now work backwards and explain how they got there. It’s a great technique for getting your mind out of a creative rut.

And, if all else fails, take a break, binge-watch a season of something mindless on Netflix, and come back to your work ready to show that manuscript who’s boss! Good luck!


Copyright picture above: unsplash.com


Alex K. Thorne graduated from university in Cape Town, South Africa with a healthy love of the classics and a degree in English Literature. She spent the next few years, teaching across the globe, from Serbia to South Korea, also writing fanfiction, and developing a kimchi addiction. When she’s not picking away at her latest writing project, she’s immersing herself in geek culture, taking too many pictures of cats, and dreaming about where next to travel. Alex published Chasing Stars as part of Ylva’s Superheroine Collection.

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About the Author : Alex K. Thorne


  1. Cristina September 19, 2018 at 05:51 - Reply

    Great advice!
    Especially the suggestion regarding writing scenes out-of-order (that was my go-to method for writing term paper rough drafts, lol). Like you’ve said, just leap into what you’re giddy to write. Worry about scene-to-scene or chapter-to-chapter cohesion as you work backwards or forwards.
    Just allow a scene to hit the page in its roughest, ugliest form. Censor your inner critic. It’s only a draft; you’re just trying to get the words out.
    Or, take a break from your novel and go off topic with a quick-word writing prompt from a random prompt generator on the internet. Or ones suggested by a writing group you respect. Maybe something written that way will gel with your actual novel. Who knows?
    In the least, it might push you out of your headspace for a moment.
    Or, borrow a page from Graham Greene and write 500 words a day, for a while, so you’re not stuck on the idea that every day must be a high word count day.
    For that matter, 250 words. That’s basically one tweet.
    It’s like you said, find a word count that works for you.
    I’m not a professional fiction writer, but here’s another trick to move past writer’s block:
    Have your character’s motivation, need and goal handy in the forefront of your mind.
    Drop your character into a horrible (or difficult or embarrassing or worrisome or scary or funny, etc) situation, one she’s super motivated to prevail against to accomplish a goal…
    But, make her have to choose between meeting her goal and meeting her need.
    And, folks, that worked for Marvel. To the tune of over 2 billion dollars!
    Scarlet Witch in Infinity War…
    Drop her into a horrible situation…
    Thanos wants to kill half the universe’s population and needs the mind stone from her lover, Vision, to do it. Thanos will for sure kill Vision to get that stone. In fact, Thanos is standing right in front of Scarlet and Vision, poised to kill Vision.
    One she’s super motivated to prevail against to accomplish her goal…
    Half the universe’s population will die if her team fails to beat Thanos; chances are super good she will kill Vision, who she loves, if she removes his mind stone, which she must do in order to thwart Thanos and save the universe.
    But make her have to choose between meeting her goal:
    Stop Thanos & Save The Universe.
    And meeting her need:
    Allowing herself to be fully present in her love for Vision, which is most ideal when they’re both alive.
    She must choose: goal or need.
    In fact, every major character in Infinity War had to make that same choice at pivotal scenes, including Thanos (he had the same decision to make as Scarlet Witch: lose a loved one–Gamora—to gain an Infinity stone).
    Because, the movie’s theme was (stated in a reductive way): Sacrifice.
    Those scenes could become less daunting to write due to dichotomies that lend themselves to “the-movie-in-your-head-turned-into-words-on-the-page” moments: goal vs need; one person’s goal vs another person’s opposing goal; life vs death, etc.
    So, when stuck on a scene, try thinking about your story’s theme.
    In what ways could you write that scene to reflect a viewpoint on your theme?
    Or, how can you write that scene to show who your character needs to/will become?
    Or, how could you make that scene interesting?
    [insert something here]?
    Then, run through the consequences of that scene = other scenes.
    Plot moments that cascade from those other scenes = even more scenes.
    After a bit, you’re on the road to writing yourself out of a block.
    And, like you’ve said —> “If all else fails, take a break, binge-watch a season of something mindless on Netflix, and come back to your work ready to show that manuscript who’s boss!”

  2. Jess Lea September 24, 2018 at 22:14 - Reply

    Excellent advice – now I just have to follow it! 🙂

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