How to move through writing blocks

Writer's BlockA big thank you to Boot Camp Leader Ashley Sanders and everyone who participated in TAA’s Dissertators United Chapter Boot Camps! The last boot camp was held May 17. All of the resources from these boot camps are now online and open to all TAA members. Resources include recordings of mini-webinars, articles, templates, and links to resources such as books, apps, and more.

In the May Boot Camp, Sanders shared 16 ways to move through writing blocks, including the use of “permission slips”, an idea that comes from the work of Dr. Brené Brown, a University of Houston researcher.

“It’s simple: write yourself permission slips to take care of yourself,” said Sanders. “For example, I have a permission slip that says, ‘I give myself permission to be done for the night and to feel good about what I accomplished.’ Obviously, these slips need to reinforce positive, healthy behaviors, affirmations, and thoughts and not meant for such things as ‘I give myself permission to drink myself under the table and wake up with a hangover.’ Another great permission slip is ‘I give myself permission to be brave and try new things.’ Or ‘I give myself permission to experiment with my writing style today.’

Other “Block Busters” she shared include:

  • Positive affirmations
  • Writing warm-ups
  • Create routines
  • Share your writing frequently
  • Develop a support network
  • Reward yourself

You can't think yourself out of a writing blockFour ways to reduce physiological response to anxiety:

  • Listen to calming music or sounds (ocean waves, rain, white noise)
  • Deep breathing exercises
  • Mediation
  • Journal about your writing anxiety 15 minutes a day for four days

Six grounding techniques:

  • Identify everything in your space that is {color}
  • Set a timer for 5 minutes and just focus on your breath, noticing each inhale/exhale
  • Say encouraging statements, as if you were talking to your best friend
  • Repeat a favorite mantra
  • Describe in detail a time when you felt good about your writing
  • Physical object

How do you move past writing blocks? Share your methods in the comments section below.

About Kim Pawlak

Kim Pawlak is Director of Publishing & Operations for the Textbook & Academic Authors Association (TAA). She has been writing about the textbook and academic authoring and publishing industry for 20 years.