Monday, September 10

5 Ways to Flip Off Writer's Block

As I’m sure those of you who follow have noticed by now, Mal Adjusted – though made for and open to all off the beaten path – tends to lean more towards those of the artistic type, myself being one.

(Write what you know, right . . . ?)

Nonetheless, I will be the first one to tell you that writer’s block is not unique to writers; having more than just “dabbled” in martial arts, dance, and art I can tell you that it afflicts anyone doing anything that requires unbidden expression, anything that is equal parts discipline, intuition, reckless abandon, and skill.

Too much of this and your creative process can quickly begin to resemble a pinball machine, too little of that and it’ll be about as interesting and as productive as a game of solitaire.

I can also tell you that writer’s block is different for everyone – how it gets to you, how it hangs on to you and, most importantly, how you handle it.

Therefore, you may find only some (or none) of these solutions helpful as I can only compare them to my own experiences, but hey, here’s hoping:


There’s a difference between being inspired/motivated and being keyed-up, going over an obstacle as opposed to throwing yourself at it hoping it will yield before you knock yourself out. Once described as a “hummingbird of emotions,” you can see how this is my biggest challenge when it comes to overcoming writer’s block – how to supplement my writing with my emotions, that fight I had with my boyfriend, that manager I’m having a problem with at work or that friend who didn’t turn out to be who I thought they were, without overdosing on them and then wallowing in bed for hours eating cake, drinking whiskey and watching Supernatural.

And while I can now eat my weight in German chocolate cake, no longer believe in chasers and know my Dean Winchester quotes forward and backwards, I don’t have any writing to show for these “burnouts,” none at all.

Knowing where your “point of combustion” is is important because burnouts (and more so, recovering from them) are a waste of time, and because once you have that information you can act preemptively.

Breathe, go for a run, take your dog to the beach, whatever it is that clears your head and leaves you with a clean “workspace” and room to focus.


If something's really not working, it’s probably not working for a reason. Writers, for example, sometimes cling to the poem or story that we want to write and ignore the one that wants to be written when, if we could only let go of the former, the later might simply unfold.

To accomplish this, a college professor of mine encouraged me to “word vomit.”

To write sentimentally, quickly, even badly, so long as I was writing.

“Write about what has you fired-up,” she said. “Write your truth first and then worry about your words.”

Similarly, my Grand Master often tells his students, “Don’t think. React.”

Whatever is that you do, take a hint from both of them and from Nike and Just Do It. Let whatever happens happen and go from there, because you’re not getting anywhere where you are. 


Basically, read.

(If you’re a writer, that is.)

More generally, take time to appreciate and learn from the work of others doing what you do.


Now, I don’t know about you, but my mind is not unlike that pin-ball machine I described earlier, as in sometimes I don’t recognize a good idea unless I have something to bounce them off of, whether that something is a conversation I overhear, a song on the radio or the surprising imagery that can found in everyday life when you’re actually looking.

Also, inspiration/motivation can be like a having a cat: When you want to hold it, it doesn’t want to be held, but give your attention to anything else and suddenly your keyboard is the only acceptable place in the world for it to take a nap.

My cat Lily illustrating my point for me.
If I had a nickel for every time I’ve given-up after hours of staring at a blank Word document only to go out and be “that person” holding up the conversation to write something down on a napkin, then in my journal, now on my iPhone . . .

And if that doesn’t work at least you went out and had a good time.


Trust me.

You brain can do whatever it is that you’re trying do a thousand better without even trying if you’d just get out of the way.

A little lucidity goes a long ways . . .

XO, Mal


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