REBLOG #3: blog 30 (or blog 29 unblocked!) In which I REALLY DO outline 10 sure-fire ways to beat writers’ block!

Yes it’s another exciting dip into the ancient blog vault! PLUS it contains some never seen before added words and pictures!

Hey, ever suffered from WRITER’S BLOCK? You haven’t? Well no one likes a clever dick! But for the rest of humanity, I give you the benefit of my under-appreciated, and virtually untapped, wisdom.


1. Get someone to give you a short, sharp whack to the side of the head with a blunt object.

I know that this particular technique works well whenever I get a fuel blockage in the lawn mower so I’m pretty sure the same principle would apply to ideas stuck in the brain. (Just a word of caution. It might be wise to ensure that the person who you choose to administer the blow, is at least vaguely fond of you.)

2  Another way to beat writer’s block is ummmmmmmmm … aaaaaaaaaaaah … WHAAAAAAACK!!!!!! Hey, I know! Just think of your favourite writer and ask yourself what they would do in the same situation.

So for example if you’re stuck for ideas and you’re writing an action novel ask, ‘What would Matthew Reilly do now?’. If it’s a fantasy ‘What would Tolkien do now?’. If it’s a short story, ‘What would Margo Lanagan do now?’. If you’re like me, you might ask, ‘What would Markus Zusak do now?’.
The good thing about this solution is that no matter who you choose, the answer is always the same! “He/She would probably come up with some really brilliant idea that would dramatically advance the plot, reveal character and totally enthrall readers.” So, yeah, just do that.


With Markus Zusak (The Book Thief) at Voices on the Coast.

3. Throw in the towel.

Stare at the blank page/computer screen and say, “Oh well that’s it then. I’m stuffed. I got nothin’. What a joke. I’m not a writer. What was I thinking? I must have been crazy to start this story! I’m gonna eat some worms.” (Warning: This option though effective, does not come highly recommended.)

4. Look on your writer’s block not as a problem but an opportunity!

Eg. ‘Hey while I’m temporarily bereft of ideas, I’ll have time to make myself a cup of coffee!’ Or, depending on the extent or your blockage, ‘Hey I’ll have time to clean the house/build that deck/study for my PhD/find myself/complete the map of the human genome!’ (Wait. Scrap that last one. Ard just told me it’s already been done. Probably by someone with writer’s block!)

5. Blame external factors for your inability to come up with any decent ideas.

Some possible options are:

‘It’s too hot/cold/mild to write!’

‘How can I be expected to think of any good ideas, watch Beauty and the Geek, check my emails, attend to my facebook page and take a selfie at the same time!’

‘This computer’s crap! I need the latest iPad. I bet Tolstoy never had to put up with equipment like this!’

‘All my teachers let me down. They should have MADE me pay attention in class. That’s their job!’

‘I blame my overwhelming external factors!’

Fabulous writing desk at a house a stayed at in Tasmania.

6. Steal an idea from another book, preferably one by a long dead author who can’t accuse you of plagiarism.

So for example: Not enough drama, emotion and tension in your children’s adventure story? Then why not have your protagonist lose a leg to a great white whale? (Tip: Maybe make it a beige whale in order to disguise the actual source of your inspiration.)


7. Use the ‘come back later’ technique.

If you hit a difficult point in your story and you’re not sure exactly how to proceed just type in the line – Insert something interesting here  – in your manuscript and move on. This leaves you free to write the rest of the story and then ‘come back later’ to finish that tricky bit when you’re good and ready! However, if your story ends up sounding like this …

Darius felt his stomach churn as he entered the grounds of his new school, Desolation High for the first time … Insert something interesting here … ‘Phew,’ sighed Darius on graduation day, ‘I’m glad those five years are over!’

… you may still have some work to do.

8. Start asking ‘What if?’ questions to stimulate story-line ideas.

What if my main character inherited a million dollars? What if he/she had to face his/her greatest fear? What if he/she isn’t what he/she seems? What if he/she has a secret? What if he/she is a transvestite?

NB: Types of ‘What if’ questions you should avoid – What if I never come up with another good idea ever again in my entire life? What if I totally suck at writing but everyone is too nice to tell me so? What if all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy? What if all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy? What if all work and no play …


From “The Shining”.

9. Use the power of positive thought.

Repeat the mantra: “There is no such thing as writers’ block. There is no such thing as writers’ block.” Which is true. It might just be that you’ve entered a time in your life where, for whatever reason, you may not be able to think of any good writing ideas for a very, very, very long time. If ever.

10.  Recognise that writers’ block might actually be a good thing. (This one’s a bit ridiculous but I’m running out of ideas here so I’d just thought I’d put it in for a laugh.)

Have you ever thought that having to stop and think for a while, even a long while, might actually be a good thing for your writing? That maybe you don’t “suffer” from writers’ block at all, but rather “benefit” from it. It probably just means that you’re so pig-headed and determined and passionate about your writing, that you’re stubbornly blocking out anything that’s not good enough. And surely that’s a good sign? After all, the worse thing you could possibly be as a writer is “easily satisfied”. Right? So look at it this way. You don’t have “writer’s block” at all. What you have there is “writer’s quality control”. You’re just telling your muse in no uncertain terms, “I’m still here you bastard and no matter how long it takes, I’m not going anywhere until you and I can come up with something really good.”

That’s it. I hope a tidal wave of words and ideas are now spewing forth! Brand new blog coming soon, I promise.

Just as soon as I can think of something to write … 


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