Techniques to Break Through Writer’s Block

November 3, 2010 | Writing Life, Inspiration

Every November NanoWrimo rolls around and writers everywhere look for ways to crank out the pages as fast as they can…faster than your muse may want to move. Inevitably at some point you will find your fingers slowing and the words stopping, and you will be looking for a way to break through writer’s block. Why wait until then? Check out these techniques now and be ready when the dreaded writer’s block hits.

5 Techniques to Break Through Writer’s Block

break through writer's block

Journals or Blogs to Break Through Writer’s Block

Now it may sound strange to spend time writing something other than your book when your goal is to crank out as many pages of that book as you can, but journaling or even blogging can be like priming the writing pump. While writing in a journal or blog you may allow yourself more freedom, be able to relax and let the words flow. It can also be a fun way to get to know your character or setting. Try interviewing a character or writing a description of our first time visiting the setting. Don’t worry about if or where the piece will fit into your book, just relax, write and enjoy the process.

Mind Mapping to Break Through Writer’s Block

Techniques to Break Through Writer’s Block

Mind Mapping is a graphic representation of the relationship between your ideas and details that come from those ideas. Think of it as a family tree of your idea. For example if your idea involves a trip to the zoo, you would put “zoo trip” in a box at the top, from that you would draw lines to other boxes with words like “tiger”, “popcorn”, “train”, and then you would draw more lines leading to more boxes that broke those elements down even more. Under “train” might be “stroller”, “sticky seat”, “conductor”, under “popcorn” might be “salty”, “spilled”, “child”. When you are done you will have a map of words and ideas to help you keep writing.

Brainstorming to Break Through Writer’s Block

When brainstorming, there are no wrong ideas. You turn off all filters and just let ideas and words flow. Start with “zoo” and spend five to ten minutes writing down every word that comes quickly to mind. Don’t reject anything.

When you are done, see what you have. You may surprise yourself.

Clustering to Break Through Writer’s Block

Clustering is a bit of a combination of mapping and brainstorming. It taps the right side of your brain and helps you become aware of patterns which should help you with your writing.

Start by writing your primer word (we have been using zoo) in the top left-hand side of a page. Circle the word then, like with brainstorming, write down every associated word that comes to mind.  As you write the words, circle them. If you recognize associations between words, draw lines connecting their circles. Continue doing this until you see a pattern that gives you an idea of what you want to write next. Put those words into a sentence and add to it. See where you go.

Scrapbooking to Break Through Writer’s Block

Scrapbooking is a visual form of brainstorming. To scrapbook your novel, gather as many magazines as you can (that you are willing to have chopped up), then sit down and cut out any and all images that appeal to you. You can also gather objects, like old keys, a seashell or a four-leafed clover, anything that with your book in mind appeals to you.

When you have everything gathered, take a piece of poster board, or a shoe box, or whatever you choose to use, and paste the objects/clippings in place. (or go digital on Pinterest… I have boards for many of my books.)

Hopefully, in the end, you will have a piece that reflects the mood, characters, setting, and even theme of your book. And whenever you get stuck you will have it to look at for inspiration.


Lori Devoti is the author of paranormal romance, urban fantasy and young adult fiction. Under the name Rae Davies, she writes the USA Today Bestselling Dusty Deals Mystery series. Check out her books at and Looking for help with your writing? Lori also does developmental editing and critiques for other authors and publishers. See our Editorial Services page for contact information and pricing. Or check out Lori’s classes at the Continuing Studies Department of the University of Wisconsin.



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