You just opened your computer, pulled up the word document you put so much effort into, and… nothing. You’ve hit writer’s block. That blank, white wall of emptiness, preventing your work from moving forward. Your characters are frozen in time, along with your thoughts. You’re not alone — sudden writer’s block is a common challenge for students and professional authors alike. While you know what’s happening, you’re probably asking yourself ‘what is writer’s block?’
There’s no simple answer, unfortunately. Writer’s block has many causes, ranging from lack of inspiration to external stress and pressure to finish. So, how do you break out of the funk and overcome writer’s block? We talked to our writing instructors for their go-to’s and they came up with these 13 writer’s block prompts to get your creativity flowing again.
1. Misheard Lyrics
Remember that famous Elton John lyric, “Hold me closer, Tony Danza”? No? That’s because the real lyric is “Hold me closer, tiny dancer.” Music can help you overcome writer’s block in more ways than one. Take your favorite mistaken lyric and build a new song or poem, using the wrong lyric.
2. Word Scramble
What do the words “ocean” and “canoe” and the phrases “coins kept” and “in pockets” have in common? They’re scrambled versions of one another, also called anagrams. Try writing a paragraph with as many word scrambles as possible. How many can you come up with?
3. Find Photographic Inspiration
Often, we write from what we know — memories, experiences, people, etc. This can lend itself to creative solutions to writer’s block: Find an old picture and write a story about the events leading up to the photograph being taken.
4. Find Artistic Inspiration
When you’re stuck in a creative rut, leaning on the talents of another artist can be one of the easiest ways to spark your own creativity. Go to a museum or find a photo of your favorite painting and tell a story about what is happening in the painting.
5. Organized Chaos
Spend some time imagining the most chaotic room possible. Take inspiration from natural disasters or an episode of Hoarders. Have the picture in your head? Describe what you see with as much detail as possible.
6. Missed Connections
Have you ever read the “Missed Connections” sections of a newspaper or Craigslist? Today’s the day to start. Find a missed connection and write a response to it as if you were the person they’re trying to contact. Don’t send the response unless they are actually reaching out to you!
7. Nonverbal Communication
Writing dialog is the go-to method of informing readers of the interaction between two characters. But what if dialogue was taken away? Write a scene between your two main characters in which all communication is nonverbal. Next, try to write the same scene with just dialog. How does that affect the story?
8. Rewrite Someone Else’s Story
Did you know that some of our favorite movies are reimagined versions of an already existing story? “Ten Things I Hate About You” is adapted from Shakespeare’s “The Taming of the Shrew.” “A Knight’s Tale” is a retelling of Chaucer’s “The Canterbury Tales.” And “Pretty Woman” and “My Fair Lady” are adaptations of George Bernard Shaw’s “Pygmalion” and the classic Cinderella narrative. Rewrite your favorite story with a different twist.
9. Combine Poetry and Short Story
Ernest Hemingway’s famous six-word story is tough to emulate on its own. But, are you ready for an even bigger challenge? Try creating a six-word story that is also a haiku: three lines with a syllable pattern of 5, 7, 5. Haikus can vary in syllable count, but rhythm and sharp imagery are important elements.
10. Absent Character
Create a character without introducing them. You can have a group of people talking about the character, describing odd traits they have. Write observations about their living space or the profession they chose. Introduce the character in every way without describing any physical element of the character.
11. Cut and Paste
Take a note from William S. Burroughs. One of his favorite tips for overcoming writer’s block is literally cutting up passages of prose and pasting (or taping) them back together to create an entirely different story. Start small by taking two of your favorite poems or stories. Cut each of them up and rearrange the pieces to create an original work. This is also a great exercise during your revision and editing process.
12. Writing Blind
Often, we write in terms of what we see or what our characters see. This technique involves a different approach. Write a section of your story, in which you describe everything except what your characters see. Evoke the other senses, like touch, sound, smell, and taste.
13. Take a Writing Workshop!
Consider joining a writer’s workshop where you can learn from other aspiring writers and get feedback on your work. We offer tons of options at ed2go. Answer all your writer’s block questions and banish it forever in Writeriffic: Creativity Training for Writers or get more specific with courses on fantasy writing or romance writing. Sharing your ideas is a great way to overcome writer’s block.
You’ve come to the “write” place to learn how to get past writer’s block. An online writing course is the perfect way to help you story, novel, or screenplay get off the ground!
To learn more or sign up for a course with a professional writer, click the link below: