Advice for Poets 3: Tackling Writer’s Block

Imagine a non-smoking, exercise-phobic, lactose-intolerant creative writing student. Awake at midnight, they are chain-smoking and power-walking to the 24-hour local shop to get another beige, machine latte. A shadow is following them down the road. It’s the Procrastination Goblin.

Photo by TooMuchDew / CC BY NAME
Photo by TooMuchDew / CC BY NAME

This is what writing to deadlines does to the very best of us, especially if your task is a creative one and you can’t simply Google what you’re looking for. So to help you with your poetic contributions to our cause, we’ve compiled a list of things to consider that might be aiding that evil goblin.

Cop-out Alert…

This is a horrible admission to make in a blog post that’s trying to give useful advice, but the truth is that only you can figure out what’s really going to work to remove your writer’s block. But try these basic ideas and see what happens.

Where are you?

The place we are in influences how we feel. Sometimes, we tend to be hungrier when we’re standing in a kitchen, or don’t feel sleepy until we lie down on our beds.

With that in mind, don’t write on your bed, as you’ll feel sleepy. Figure out if you need silence to concentrate or if you prefer a background buzz, so might be better off in a cafe. It might help you over time to return to the same place, room or table. It sounds superstitious, but what you’re really doing is telling your brain, ‘right, we’re here, this is creative time now, so concentrate!’ just like when you lie on your bed and your brain knows it’s time for zzz.

Distraction 1: Social media

Check your phone once, and then switch it on silent, or better still, switch it off. If you’re working on your laptop, sign out or turn off notifications. Firstly, you don’t want Facebook to pop up right when you’re about to catch that phrase you’ve been rolling on your tongue for hours and you lose it. Secondly, we all know you’ll end up chatting instead. We do it all the time.

Distraction 2: People

Much as you love your family ad friends, their voices and presence may be a distraction. You may also feel self-conscious unleashing your inner Coleridge while they’re potentially looking over your shoulder.

Distraction 3: Discomfort

Have a wee before you sit down to write. Take a drink with you. Make sure you’re not hungry. Taking care of your basic needs will stop you needing to break the flow to go and take care of yourself, so you can let the creativity flow without interruption.


We touched on this earlier – going to a certain place can fool your brain into slipping into concentration mode. Similarly, repeating certain rituals can help your brain realise it’s time to write. Maybe you’ll find it easier to write with a cup of tea, or maybe you have to be wearing pyjamas or joggers. Maybe you need certain songs on in the background. It’s not really superstition, just good psychology.

Did it Work?

If you’ve beaten the procrastination goblin, please submit your work to be published in ‘The Wait’. It’s easy fundraising that can make a huge difference!


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