top of page

Outwit writers block

Updated: Sep 10, 2023

Writers block can be sneaky - creeping up on you when you least expect it, and when you need it least.

To get even, why not take WB on at it's own game by being crafty - cheating, if you like?

Somewhere in these features I refer to confidence - or (temporary) lack of it - being a root cause. What can we do to get our confidence back and, in so doing, restore our self-belief in our writing? Here's how to outwit writers block.

Choose a chapter from your favorite book - and rewrite it

Why? Well, clearly it's a writing style with which you are familiar, and enjoy. You may also know the story well enough to retell it without having to reread it continually.

Overcome writer's block by re-writing  a passage from your favourite book
Rewrite your favourite passage

So - what difference does that make?

Basically, you don't have to think of a plot, create characters, or 'invent anything.

So - what's the process?

What do you do next to outwit writers block?

You re-write it - the chapter, or section of the book - but 'in your own words.

Yes. 'Free-write' it, without a care. After all, it's not for publication, is it? Is it? NO! Of course not.

Ask yourself again - what difference does it make?

Well, I'll tell you.

You give yourself permission to ring the changes

a. Change the outcome of the chapter, if you wish. Give it a difference ending, or direction.

b. Change the character description or behaviour - where does that take you? Feel free to find out.

c. Change the location - if the action takes place in the south of France, imagine what it might 'feel' like if it happened in....oh... the Yorkshire Dales. Or Birmingham City Centre.

d. Change the period. If the original takes place in the Victorian era, imagine the same story as it might be in the year 2000.

You may decide to choose other 'variations' - it's up to you, but, above all - TAKE CONTROL.

Tip: You can also apply a similar approach by taking a poem - ideally a poem you know - and rewrite it as a short story.

Here's another idea to try.

Go to the location where your action takes place - and write

Or, at least, take notes.

Again, this works if you have doubts or lack self-belief in what you are writing about.

Desk research is brilliant and so easy nowadays, with Google, or other search engines, Wikipedia - in short, the internet. However... getting closer to 'reality' - if you can - is a superb way to build authenticity and credibility into your writing.

What does this mean in real terms? Here are some examples.

* If a section in your book takes place on a beach, or a beach resort - spend a day there and simply people watch - take it all in - how do people behave? - what do you find in that type of location that you don't find elsewhere? - describe how you 'feel' in that situation - and enable it to shape your characters and how they behave.

Real locations can inspire you to write and beat writer's block for new novel writers
Overcoming writers block can be a 'beach'

For example:

* If action takes place in a soccer stadium, or a rock concert/festival, say.... a department store or a shopping mall - go there.

Write down what you see - similar to 1., above.

* If the action is on a university campus - visit one.

* Capture the pace, noise, smells, tension (or otherwise), and feel of - say - a railway station or airport or rush-hour traffic - by experiencing one.

It's a great way to enrich your own writing style and content. Increase believability.

Fictionalize the facts to unblock and outwit writers block

This is similar in approach to taking the work of your favorite author and rewriting it.

Take a newspaper report, a news item, or a scientific article (say) and 'make up' a story based on the facts laid down before you.

This means you have the introduction, the plot, and the ending (probably) - so that part of the 'thinking' is taken care of. What you now have to do is to breathe life into the facts, flesh out and build any characters who may feature, give them a 'voice', a perspective, introduce dialogue, and describe the location and/or context within which it all takes place.

This is a perfect opportunity to invent and create characters, as well as practice your skills at dialogue (two elements within factual reports that are usually short on detail).

Interestingly, whilst your end (new) product could be confined to a short story format, there is no reason why it could not lead to being your next full novel. Then you really will have beaten the challenge to outwit writers block.

Another 'trick' you may be able to pull off, is to find a factual source relevant to an ongoing novel on which you are currently working, and building it into its plot. You never know.

Again, and as ever, adopt a 'devil may care' attitude with a 'free-writing approach' to your first draft. Read more about this, here...

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page