Goodreads asked Andrew Christison:

How do you deal with writer’s block?

Andrew Christison This is a great question. I believe that a lot of writer's block stems from the pressure of a singular focus on the writing, rather than allowing the story to come through you. That said, it happens to everyone. I'll often write in spurts, where I can sit down and write hundreds or thousands of words at a time, then at other times be hard-pressed to get a couple sentences out.

The best solutions that I've come up with are:

A. Write anything. If nothing is coming out that you'd like to write, start writing what you're thinking. For example, when frustrated, start writing exactly what comes to your mind, like, "I'm so frustrated. I can't believe I can't get a single word out that moves this story forward in any meaningful way. What am I doing? What are you doing, Andrew? Think! Think!" This is strange, although I find it to be both therapeutic and to get my juices flowing, again, once I'm back on topic.

B. Read something else. James Altucher, one of my favorite non-fiction writers, writes extensively about needing to be an active reader to be an active writer and recommends reading from 3+ different genres of books every morning before writing. Although I am often reading at least 2 books at a time, I don't abide perfectly by this rule, however, when I'm in a slump and need some motivation, the easiest solution to get my mind brewing, again, is always to read something else and find inspiration from it. Whether fiction, non-fiction biographies or autobiographies, poetry, or a play or screenplay, getting refreshed with other words (not from social media or the news), can often help to calibrate my mind for writing.

C. Exercise & Take Breaks. I'll preface this with sharing that I am not, at this point in my life, someone who does a ton of exercise. That said, when I'm working on a writing project, I find that I need to work in large chunks of time and press on, while the motivation is high and the words are flowing, however, once they cease flowing and motivation is waning, a quiet walk around the block in silence generally does the trick to get back on point.

D. Structure & Planning. Writing, like any other creative task, can't be forced. It needs to come naturally...most of the time. What can help greatly with creativity, though, is providing a structure and plan around what's being written. For example, if you have some water colors and are asked to paint 10 pictures, you could complete one, then not know what to paint on the next page. In writing, if you're intending to write 10 pages, the best way to go about being able to complete it in one sitting is by planning out those pages in advance, by brainstorming ideas, content, and structure through an outline or, at least, detailed notes. This will make it so that when you pick up your pen, or bring out your laptop, you're ready to rock with a working concept already established.

E. Just stop. Sometimes there's too much pressure. Since I write for fun mostly and a little for a living, if I put too much pressure on myself, my creativity will not shine through. In those circumstances, it's often best to just stop for the day and come back, again, tomorrow, ready to make the magic happen!

More Answered Questions

About Goodreads Q&A

Ask and answer questions about books!

You can pose questions to the Goodreads community with Reader Q&A, or ask your favorite author a question with Ask the Author.

See Featured Authors Answering Questions

Learn more