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From the Blog: Battling the Blank Page


No matter where you are in your writing journey, sometimes your inspiration just dries up. There are many ways to confront that blank page, and here are a few nuggets of advice from YWP Participant Aamukta Thalluri. (For more articles like this, explore the NaNoWriMo blog!)

Ye Accursed writer’s blocke!

(...was what Shakespeare thought when he couldn’t figure out what should happen next in Othello.)

A blank page. A blinking insertion point. A frustrated writer. This is a tale as old as time (only replace the insertion point with a pen/quill). We’ve all been here at some point, wishing words could magically appear on the paper. Now, I can’t say for sure that Shakespeare thought exactly those words. But as a writer who churned out plays at a remarkable pace, it stands to reason that he too had days when he’d sit in front of a scroll, his mind blank, ink dripping from the quill, the only blotch on an otherwise unblemished paper.

As a writer, I’ve been in the exact same situation, almost too many times to count. And now, I’ll be sharing some tips that have helped me get past writer’s block. 

Before I start, a bit of advice. I learnt this at a writing workshop, and have come to realize that this is the case, more often than not: If you haven’t yet tried to write something, it’s not writer’s block. There’s a difference between daydreaming about the book you want to write and being unable to capture the words when you sit down to do it. 

Tips to overcome writer’s block:

For short-term projects, specifically NaNo drafting or writing projects with a deadline:

  1. Take a hike! Or a walk. Commune with nature. Observe people. Take deep breaths. Oftentimes, writer’s block happens because of stress. So give yourself some quality time and let the tension disperse.
  2. Distractions. Watch engaging TV, read a good book, play an instrument, cook, bake…. Do whatever gets your mind off your draft, and get back to it with a clear head.
  3. Work on a different part of your story. Now, you’ve probably heard this before, or even tried it out, but this works! NaNo is about churning out 1667 words a day, not 1667 words written in the exact same order they’ll appear in the final draft. So just let go of a troublesome scene, and get back to it whenever you feel like it.

For long-term projects, which don’t demand a daily word count or have a deadline:

  1. Put it aside. This is probably the best thing you could do. Keep the unfinished manuscript aside, whether for a few days, weeks, or months. You could be on a long boring car ride or in a really boring talk when inspiration suddenly strikes. Eureka! Now go back and finish what you started.
  2. Work on something else. Get to that poem you’ve always wanted to write. Or the short story that you’ve unconsciously been collecting details for. Or just a whimsical fanfic. In the process of doing this, you might find inspiration.
  3. Different scenarios. This is something that works for me every time. If you’re stuck at a particular scene, and you have no idea what to do next, write the most incredible, the wildest thing you can imagine would happen.

For example, say I was writing, “Jack and Jill went up the hill / To fetch a pail of water.”

And I’m stuck. No idea what comes next. So this is what I do.

Scenario 1:

Jack and Jill went up the hill / To fetch a pail of water. / What Jack didn’t know / Was that Jill was a trained assassin / And he was the next target.

Scenario 2.

Jack and Jill went up the hill / To fetch a pail of water./ Only pail of water here / Was code word for / Joining a cult.

In the process of doing this, I generally realize the most realistic course of action the story should take. 

If you’re stuck in your writing, I hope this advice helps you out!


Aamukta is a writer, poetess, guitarist, amateur blogger, and a part-time teenager. She spends a lot of her time writing or thinking about writing, hers, or other people's. Her tastes are as weird as they are varied. Her favorite writers range from Louisa May Alcott to Stephen King to Pseudonymous Bosch. She recently began working on her masterpiece, Mage Academy, a YA novel with superheroes, and mythological elements. (Did warn you that she's weird!) In her free time, she binges on a variety of TV series such as Psyche, Supernatural The Walking Dead, Once Upon A Time, Seinfeld, Brooklyn Nine-Nine... And the list goes on.

Top photo by Henry Hustava on Unsplash

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