6 Tips to Help You Get Unstuck

Thanks to Joanne Miller, co-author of Be Your Finest Art: Awaken Your Creative Selffor this guest post. 

Be Your Finest Art by Joanne Miller and Dorsey McHughEver sit down in front of your computer, place your fingers on the keyboard and wait for the right words to drop from brain to fingertips, but you can’t get the juices flowing? Any writer, if truly honest, will admit to having moments—sometimes days (or more)—of blocked creativity. It happens to the best of us. This happens for a number of reasons, but there are ways to push through to renewed creativity that really aren’t that complicated or illusive. Perhaps these six tips will help you the next time you are staring at a blank screen and your fingers refuse to move.

1. Face Your Fear. Fear is a very serious and frequent cause for writer’s block. I’m not good enough. No one really cares what I might have to say. Our inner critic is always looming in the background waiting to lay into us, often dredging up nightmares of being criticized or made fun of for past attempts at being creative. I don’t believe God gives us the ability to create without giving us the tools with which to do it well. It may take time, research and training but if it is in us, it has to come out regardless of what that bad angel on your shoulder is whispering in your ear. Listen to your heart. No one knows your desires and passions better than you do.

2. Bite Off a Chunk. No one ever sits in front of his/her computer and writes a whole book in a night. It takes time. One popular author friend of mine says she has many folders in a file cabinet marked with topics pertinent to what she writes about. When she runs across an article that resonates with her or gets a great idea or thought on a subject, she places that information into the proper folder. When the folders begin to have some substance, she can easily put together a book. If you only write one chapter per month you can complete a book in a year and that is more than what most writers do.

3. Take Up a New Hobby. I began drawing classes after I was 50 years old. I had never drawn before and had no idea if I could. I was sixty before I took painting classes. Drawing was hard for me. Painting has been even harder. Neither of these creative outlets has come naturally to me as does writing. There is no doubt that I am a better writer than a fine artist. However, I feel strongly that tapping into my right brain through drawing and painting has enhanced my writing ability more than any writing course I have ever experienced. Anything I can do to stretch my right brain does nothing but help increase my ability to write with more imagination, description and excitement.

4. Never Underestimate the Power of Story. Gone are the days when people wrote generically, leaving out their own experiences. Enter the age of reality shows and telling all. Don’t get me wrong. Just telling one’s life experiences might be a nice journal to leave behind for the kids but probably won’t get you on the best-seller list. However, relating examples of life experience engaging the reader in a way that is relatable and gives hope and encouragement through transformation might! When you use examples of real-life people and experiences, it gives the reader a sense of empowerment. Storytelling is often an easy way to make an important point.

5. Be Realistic. Few writers become famous. Even fewer become wealthy through their writing. Most writers write because they have a burning desire to get their message out to others. If you have a great message but the thought of writing threatens a panic attack, find another way to be heard. Do a podcast, become a speaker for community groups, do short blog messages, or get a crate and stand on a street corner with a megaphone. Don’t try to be a writer if you don’t love it. You’ll only frustrate yourself and set yourself up for possible failure.

6. Do Something Mindless. My best ideas for writing come when I least expect them. Having writer’s block? Go clean out a closet or a drawer. Go mow the lawn. Take a long drive down a country road. Go on a walk. But be sure to have paper and pencil or a mini-recorder (most iPhones have that capability) nearby. You are bound to get a great idea or a breakthrough in what you thought was a major road block. Drain-o for the mind: Releases clogs so energy and words flow freely.



Joanne Miller is co-author with Dorsey McHugh of a new book on creativity titled Be Your Finest Art. She has also written four books in the children’s I Wanna Be series. Wife of author and career coach Dan Miller, Joanne is a speaker, writer, artist and Queen Mother in the 48 Days community.


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Diane Krause - July 8, 2014

What a great post, Joanne. Number 1 on your list is so true, and is an ongoing challenge for many of us. But those smaller “victories” and accomplishments can certainly help ease that challenge.

I love the example of your friend with the topic folders. What a great idea (and one I plan to implement).

Thank you Joanne and Erin for the inspiration and encouragement today!

    Erin K Casey - July 10, 2014

    Thanks for the comment, Diane. It’s fun to have a new voice on the blog. 🙂

Kent Julian - July 8, 2014

LOVE “do something mindless.” This is why I don’t listen to podcasts or music when I run (unless I’m going over 6 or 7 miles). I have found running allows my mind to wander and often the wandering leads to some great ideas.

Thanks for sharing JoAnne. Thanks for posting the interview Erin. Outstanding!

    anthony - July 12, 2014

    Kent, Which interview were you talking about? Thanks.

    Erin K Casey - July 12, 2014

    Thanks, Kent. Curious, do you keep anything on you to record ideas as they come when you’re running?

Jerry Stumpf - July 8, 2014

Great work ladies,

It is easy to get stuck or distracted and you nailed it with “do something mindless” since we get obsessed on getting our tasks done in a certain time frame and sometimes the brain will not connect like we first envisioned it should behave. And how often do we think of one thing and the idea we pressed so hard for originally “pops up”.

An additional idea for those random files. If you have a favorite, old fashioned dictionary, find the word in the dictionary that corresponds to your article and mark your folder by that page. When you have more files on that same page give them a letter that shows it is file # 356a or #356b which gives you an order for those files. Otherwise they may get so stacked up and you just can’t find that article on “how to ….” that you had a month ago. You could also stick a note on the dictionary page with short notes that connect to that page in the file cabinet to jog your memory about the article.

Thanks for these tips, they are great!

Jenny Hester - July 9, 2014

Love your tips Joanne. I agree with doing something mindless. I often stop on my walks to take notes on my iphone. That is when some interesting topics pop into my head. Thanks for being an inspiration to us all.

Margaret Phillips - July 9, 2014

Thank you Joanne , for the creative ideas! I especially appreciate the reality check around the motivation for writing. Doing an examination of expectations and “do we really have a burning passion for it” are good grids to pass through. By the way , your and Dorsey’s book is amazing!

Kimberley Wiggins - July 10, 2014

Joanne, I absolutely love this. I am experiencing writers block constantly. I love the idea about the file with different topics. That will help me out tremendously. Thanks for the awesome tips.

Jen McDonough - July 12, 2014

LOVE, LOVE, LOVE these tips.
In wanting to get things DONE, I struggle with doing nothing and/or making time to do some fun creative stuff, however, know that when I have done it, abundant thinking follows. Is this easy for me to remember, NO it is not always easy so thank you for the reminder and “permission” to do so.

Dan Miller - July 12, 2014


Love the tips. Of course, I like #6. For me there is nothing like taking a bread and doing something mindless to stimulate the next great thought. Stepping back seems to open the flow of new ideas.

    Dan Miller - July 12, 2014

    I meant taking a “break” but then taking a bread sometimes helps too. And a little peanut butter and jelly with that bread in the company of a couple lively granddaughters always releases some insightful writing.

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