Q: What is your best advice for overcoming writer’s block?

A: Writer’s block grows out of fear – of never finishing, of your work not being good enough, of leaving your comfort zone, of putting yourself above others, or of neglecting the other obligations in your life and work. But whatever the fear, I’d try these steps:

  • Writer’s block is common, and need not be crippling. Of course you’re afraid – this is tough stuff. So stop asking how to stop being afraid, and ask yourself if you’re willing to be afraid.
  • More writer’s block occurs in your kitchen than in your workspace. Just plunk your ass in front of the computer and the rest will probably take care of itself.
  • Write as soon as you wake up. Excuses multiply as the day progresses.
  • Establish a daily regimen with a minimum amount of time (or pages) you must accomplish. But keep that minimum low – well within your comfort zone – and then allow yourself to go past that quota if you feel like it. The emotional gap between writing nothing and writing for 15 minutes is greater than the gap between writing for 15 minutes and writing for an hour.
  • If you’ve stared at the blank page for five full minutes, start writing about how you are feeling about your story. Ramble, meander, repeat yourself, swear and complain about how horrible your work and your life are, but keep writing. New ideas about your story and characters will eventually appear in this pile of verbiage, and when enough do, switch back to your manuscript or screenplay and add them to your work.
  • Expand your definition of writing. Research is writing. Talking your ideas into a recorder is writing. Drawing doodles of scenes in your story is writing. Even staring at an empty page is writing. So do any of these things when the words aren’t coming. But checking your email is not writing. Neither is playing Words With Friends. Everything you do has to relate to your story.
  • When your writing time nears its completion, leave the next story beat unwritten. Jot it down, then start the next day by adding it to your screenplay or manuscript. This will assure that you accomplish something every day, and once you have primed the pump in this fashion, the pressure is reduced and the words should flow more easily.