Let’s face it – we’ve all been in a dark place called The Writing Slump. Writer’s Block is a phenomenon that happens to every writer at some point. When words start to escape you and ideas get stale, you need a reliable emergency kit for working through blockages and staying productive.

I plummet into the writing abyss of Writer’s Block when my mind is bogged down with a million different things, when I accidentally lose all hope in the piece I’m drafting or when the caffeine from my latte starts to wear off. To be honest, there are a million triggers that can send me straight to the writing slump but as a professional writer with constant deadlines looming, not writing is not an option!

How can you write yourself out of linguistic stagnation when taking a day or even a couple of hours off might not be an option?

Take a few deep breaths. If you find yourself torturing your pen or smashing your keyboard, close your eyes, let annoyance and frustration dissipate, and take a few deep breaths. Accept the situation with a serene mind and focus on getting back on the writing track. There’s nothing worse than savouring the emotions you might be feeling in times of a writing paralysis; rather, choose to tackle the blockage with concrete .

Fight the temptation to quit, because you won’t always have the luxury of taking long breaks or waiting for inspiration to kick in. The reality of writing – especially if you get paid to do it – is that you don’t have all the time in the world to polish off every sentence. Learning to combat writer’s block is key to becoming a successful professional writer.

Seek inspiration in the work of others. Is there a writer you find exceptionally talented or eloquent? Or a magazine you like skimming? Turn your attention to the content and style of fellow writers for fresh ideas, new phrases, and a spark.

Get caught up in technicalities. When your creative juices ebb, shift your focus to formatting, laying out your pages, assembling appendices. Writing is a multi-step endeavour that involves editing, fact-checking, revisions, approvals, research, and much more. Just because your word count isn’t growing, you can still be moving forward with your writing project.

Freewrite for two minutes. Zoom out your computer screen or open a new page in your notebook and write. Jot down everything that comes to mind on your topic. Even if you’re repeating yourself or words don’t go well together, refrain from judgement until the time is up. This well-known writing exercise can help ideas and sentences coalesce into a unique creation.

Tell a friend what you want to write – but currently can’t. Alternating between different modes of expression can help reset your brain. If your friend really listens, maybe they’ll even offer feedback. If no friend is available in the moment of a writing crisis, give your imaginary audience an elevator pitch about your topic.

Go back to the basics. Why are your drafting this piece? What’s the message you’re attempting to convey? Oftentimes, we get bogged down in perfect grammar, elegant style, active verbs, and paragraph transitions that we forget what we’re trying to say. In desperate times of a writing slump, be ready to sacrifice your eloquence (and polish it off when you ).

No matter how dissatisfying or dark your writing abyss looks like, it’s just another setback you need to power through. There is, probably, no single magic recipe for breaking out of a writing slump – so make your own soup.


Screenshot_20181023-160649Olga Ivanova is an Edmonton-based communications professional and writer with a knack for storytelling.

tumblr_inline_n9xt2hsUWZ1s6nw8rThe classic stereotype of a writer penning the next great novel in their moleskin notebook is a bit dated, particularly when technology has grown leaps and bounds to help facilitate your writing, whether in the form of editing apps, inspiration tools or time-management programs. Abhorring the modern writing world and all that is available to a writer seems to me to be a bit of status thing, invoking the classic artist martyrology – that if you don’t suffer for your art, it’s not art. Let me tell you: this is 19th Century trope that just. Will. Not. Die. Writers are usually artists but they are also craftspeople in a skilled trade. They have to work really hard to do what they do and they produce thousands of pages before they ever write a paragraph of magic. Anyone who tells you otherwise is lying or has a magic genie lamp stashed away somewhere.

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Technology is all about making our lives easier and even though it sometimes seems like the easier things get, the more time we waste, I have to say that the following tools for writers seem to be excellent for increasing productivity, efficiency and overall inspiration to get you back to doing what you do best: writing!

  1. creativityImagination Prompt is a great tool for someone who just doesn’t know how to get started. Whether you are a serial blogger or are working on a short story for publication, the simple push of the button on this site can really help get the wheels a-turnin’ and the words a-spinnin’. With writers, it is often just a tiny push we need to get past a block and then a cascade of ideas can come tumbling down to us.
  2. zenwriterZenWriter is a downloadable app for PCs that is meant to minimize distractions that can take away from your writing productivity – provided you are doing your writing on a computer, which is likely these days. Journalling might seem romantic but it can be a bit of a time waster as few people will take the time to transcribe what they have written in a notebook into something on the typed page. Additionally, things can look really different when written by the hand and just might not have the same punch when they are put into more conventional printed formats. Either way, something like ZenWriter is good for keeping you focused on your writing and includes therapeutic music and natural scenery in the background to help you relax and get your work done.
  3. stayfocusdStayfocusd is a similar idea to ZenWriter, except that it is a Google Chrome app that limits the amount of time you can spend on time-wasting websites. It is completely customizable and can block entire websites, because who’s kidding? We all have a secret love of Buzzfeed or Distractify or some other evil click-bait webpage that is just so interesting you can’t help yourself. This is how the internet can destroy lives people. Put a timer on it and stop wasting time. Get ‘er done, as we say in Alberta.
  4. clichefinderCliché Finder is helpful if you don’t want to suck as a writer. Cliches might seem like the best thing since Betty White but, trust me, they do worse for your writing than a thousand monkeys on a thousand typewriters. At least the monkeys might show a shred of ingenuity because it is unlikely that they have cultural memes that can penetrate their writing the way clichés can. But enough about monkeys, just use this app to seek out those sneaky stereotypical similes and destroy them.
  5. meetupsMeetup.com is a website that might help you find writing groups in your neighbourhood. Check it out or post there to find like-minded people who are interested in working on their craft as much as you are. It will get you into the habit of writing for your group, editing and proofreading the work of other people, and might even throw in a healthy dose of competitiveness that will get your creative juices flowing. Cliché alert! Should’ve ran that one through number 4! See? Even the most practiced writers fall prey to classic failings now and again. Get on the technology train and get moving.