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Articles for Aspiring Authors

How to Write a Short Story: 7 Actionable Steps for Impactful Short Stories

You probably don’t think short stories are very hard to write.

In fact, you might be the type who assumes short stories are even easier because, well…they’re short.

But that’s just not the case – and I’ll tell you why in just a minute.

If you want to learn how to write a short story, you’ll have to go through these main steps:

  1. Know your character
  2. Outline
  3. Start with something out of the ordinary
  4. Get your draft done as soon as possible
  5. Edit your short story
  6. Title your short story
  7. Get feedback about it

But before we dive into these exact methods for how to write a short story, let’s talk about why any and all writers should learn how to craft solid, captivating short stories, even if your end goal is to write full-length novels or even nonfiction.

how to write a short story

Why All Writers Should Learn How to Write a Short Story Well

There’s a lot more to writing short stories than you may think. Just because they’re shorter in length doesn’t mean it takes any less skill to execute a good one.

In fact, being able to tell a full story in such a short amount of time arguably takes more skill than writing a full-length novel or nonfiction book.

That being said, why is it beneficial for all writers to learn how to write a short story?

#1 – You learn the skill of showing

When you only have a few pages to hook readers, paint a clear picture of the character, and tell a story, you end up mastering the skill of showing instead of telling.

The reason for this is because, in order to accomplish a successful and good short story, showing is a major part of that.

It’s far too difficult to write a great short story without showing the details and using strong verbs to paint a clear image of your character’s life.

Those skills will transfer into anything you write, automatically making it that much better.

FREE STRONG VERBS LIST DOWNLOAD

Just enter your information for a list of over 200 strong verbs with the weak verbs they replace!

#2 – You’ll strengthen individual chapters

No matter if you’re a fiction writer or if you prefer nonfiction, the idea here is the same.

A chapter is basically a short story that’s a part of a bigger whole. The same skills you apply to write a great short story will also help you write stronger chapters.

Why is writing good chapters important if there’s a whole book available for someone to read?

Because it hooks readers and keeps them turning that page.

And when readers look back on an entire book filled with incredible chapters, the entire book as a whole will be seen as being that much better.

Hello, 5-star reviews!

#3 – It makes the story sections of your nonfiction book more captivating

Every nonfiction book has portions where stories must be told in order to get the point across.

This is what allows people to relate to you as an author, which pulls them in deeper and makes the core message of your book resonate with them more.

But if those stories are weak, not well-written, and lackluster, it’s unlikely someone will enjoy them as much.

It’s also likely that your message will get lost because the book doesn’t carry the same impact.

How long are short stories?

You already know that short stories are…shorter than your average novel but do they have any other difference?

Here’s a chart detailing the main differences between short stories, novels, novellas, and nonfiction works.

Writing TypeAverage Word CountMain Writing Focus
Short Storiesunder 7,500 words- Imagery
- Exposition
- Theme/Message
Novels40,000 +- Character development
- Plot
- Theme/Message
Novellas17,500 - 40,000- Character development
- Plots
- Theme/Message
Nonfiction 20,000 - 70,000 - Theme/Message
- Supporting stories
- Personal journey

As you can see, the main difference is length, but that’s not all. When you write a short story, you’re only writing a very impactful snippet of your character’s otherwise full life.

You don’t have to unpack your entire character’s life story in a few hundred words in order to write a great short story.

How to Write a Short Story

If you’re ready to tackle this avenue of creative writing or you just want to learn how to write a short story to strengthen the overall quality of your book, here’s how you can do that.

#1 – Know your character

In order for a short story to be impactful, you have to know your character well. You only have a certain amount of time to show your readers who that person is and you can’t do that if you don’t even know who they are.

Think about it.

If you write a short story about your best friend, whom you’ve known for many years, versus writing one about someone you just met yesterday, you’ll be able to craft a much stronger story about your best friend because you know them so well.

The same goes for your fictional characters.

You don’t have to spend a ton of time on this, but know their history, age, personality, family life, friend life, love life, and other details that shape the way someone sees the world.

#2 – Outline

Thankfully, the outlining process for a short story is much easier than a full novel, but I do still advise creating one in order to have a cohesive flow throughout the story.

This is definitely useful for those of you who prefer outlining versus just writing by the seat of your pants.

Here’s what your outline should encompass for a short story:

  • The point of view you’ll use
  • How you’ll start the story
  • How you’ll get from the beginning to the main issue
  • What happens at the “climax” (yes, even short stories have one!)
  • Resolution of the main issue
  • The very end

Keep in mind that your short story can end very abruptly or you can flesh it out until there’s a satisfying ending.

This is really up to you as an author to decide.

#3 – Start with something out of the ordinary

In order to hook readers with a short story, you should start with something that’ll catch someone’s attention right off the bat.

Take Hannah Lee Kidder’s example from the video above. One of the short stories in her upcoming anthology, Little Birds, opens with a woman collecting roadkill.

Odd? Yes. Attention grabbing? You bet!

Because we’re automatically intrigued by the fact that people don’t normally go around collecting roadkill.

Now, you don’t have to start your short story with something as strange as that but you do want to give your readers a sense of who your character is by depicting something different right away that also has to do with the core focus of your short story.

how to write a short story intro example

Take this short story called The Gift of the Magi by O. Henry, for example. This author starts with a very low money amount and then hits you with the fact that it’s Christmas the very next day.

This is out of the ordinary because many readers understand that having such little money (scraped up money, at that) right before Christmas isn’t typical. It’s odd – and also hits their emotions right away.

#4 – Get the draft done ASAP

Done is better than perfect. We’ve all heard or read these words time and time again – and that’s because they’re important; they’re true.

This is especially the case when it comes to short stories. Once you have your outline and know how to start writing, drafting the short story in full comes next.

Don’t worry about editing or polishing the story up in any way right now. After all, you can’t possibly make good edits until you know what the story looks like in full.

That would be like matching your earrings to your pants without first having the full outfit put together. You don’t know if those earrings work well with it until you see what else you’ll be wearing.

It’s the same for writing. Focus on getting your draft done so you can move on to the next step.

how to write a book and finish quote

#5 – Edit your short story

Editing is where the real magic happens when it comes to writing. We all have this idea in our minds that we’ll get it perfect the first time and that’s just not how writing works.

Most of the time, your first draft is just the bare bones of what’s to come.

Think of the actual writing as the wooden structure of a house and the editing as the drywall, paint, windows, light fixtures, doors, and anything else that’ll make the house complete.

These are a few things to keep an eye out for when editing your short story:

  • Point of view consistency
  • Tense consistency
  • Weak verbs (replace them with our list of strong verbs found right here!)
  • Showing versus telling (readers need you to show more!)
  • Stronger imagery
  • Spelling/grammar/dialogue

The editing process for short stories is pretty much the same for novels. The only difference is that short stories tend to focus more on imagery and exposition than they do full character and plot development.

#6 – Title it!

This can be one of the most difficult things for any book, let alone a story that’s only a few hundred to a few thousand words.

The good news? Short story titles are a little less important than titles for novels. They can also be very abstract.

What you want to think of when titling your short story is this:

  • What’s the overarching theme?
  • What is something unique about the story?
  • What sounds intriguing but not explanatory?

These questions will help you develop a title that not only makes sense, but is also intriguing enough to pull readers in while staying true to what the story is about.

#7 – Get feedback

No matter how experienced (or inexperienced) you are as a writer, you need feedback.

In order to learn and improve and ensure your message is coming across as desired, you need someone else’s fresh eyes on it.

The simple fact is, we’re too close to our writing.

It’s impossible to read your story with a critical eye when you’re the one who came up with and wrote it in the first place.

Allowing others to read your work and offer feedback is one of the best ways to improve and make sure your story is exactly how you want it.

Short Story Ideas

Now that you know how to write a short story, it’s time to put these new skills to the test with some short story ideas guaranteed to produce something interesting and intriguing.

Here are some short story ideas to take your writing to the next level:

  1. Your character opens the mailbox to find their biggest fear inside.
  2. After a devastating fall, your character is learning the hardships of healing after an accident.
  3. Your character accidentally insults their company’s CEO – right before a big promotion.
  4. Your character lost a child years ago but lives as if it just happened the day before.
  5. Your character’s village wise woman tells the story of how magic was lost due to abuse.
  6. Your character lives in a space pod traveling space, and they’re also claustrophobic.
  7. Ash floated from the mountaintop and awoke your character from their night’s sleep.
  8. Your character hasn’t eaten in days and stumbles upon real berries, and so does a starving bear.
  9. When your character’s heart is broken, they must find a way to heal it – any way.
  10. Your character is an orphaned 7-year-old who hears voices.

Your Next Steps

Now you know how to write a short story! But how do you go from having all this knowledge in your brain to actually writing a short story worth reading?

We’ve got those next steps for you.

#1 – Free Training

Learning how to write a short story is only the first step toward becoming a published author – and we have the rest of them for you.

With your FREE training, we can help you understand what it takes to write a book, how to do it with intrigue, and show you HOW to self-publish it so the maximum number of people can enjoy it.

Just click the button below to TAKE ACTION on your dream – and let’s do this together.

#2 – Download some writing prompts

Not everyone can come up with a story idea off the top of their head. And as you learn how to write a short story, you might come up with a few but if you don’t, we’ve got you covered.

We have a master list of over 200 fiction writing prompts just waiting for someone to bring them to life.

Download yours right here and get started on your short story!

#3 – Start the outline!

If you went ahead and got your list of prompts, or if you already have an idea of your own, start your outline!

Get that main idea down and start thinking creatively about how you can begin your short story in a way that sucks readers in.

Then you can focus on the main event that ties everything together before finalizing how you want the story to end.

 

Do you have any other tips for learning how to write a short story? What do you love most about this avenue of writing? Comment down below!

How to Write a Novel: 5 Key Methods That SELL Books Fast

If you misunderstand how to write a novel with the proper structure, your book will never sell.

Harsh, but true. And that’s why we’re here to tell you the exact methods that skyrocketed the popularity of books like The Hunger Games and the Divergent series.

Learning how to write a novel requires 5 key milestones in your story:

  1. The Setup
  2. The Inciting Incident
  3. The First Slap
  4. The Second Slap
  5. The Climax

But before we dive right into those, we have to understand your unique writing method in order for you to understand how to write a novel in a way that’s best for you.

What is a Novel?

You probably already know this, but a novel is a work of fiction told through narrative prose focusing on characters with at least some degree of realism.

Essentially, a novel is a long story in which a message, theme, and plot are revealed slowly over the course of scenes and chapters that make up a bigger storyline.

how to write a novel milestones

How Many Words in a Novel?

The exact number of words that make up a novel varies greatly depending on the genre and personal taste, however, a book is considered a novel if it has more than 50,000 words.

Below is a table detailing how many words make up a novel in each respective genre, as some are typically longer than others.

GenreAverage Word Count
Fantasy90,000 - 115,000
Epic Fantasy115,000 - 180,000+
Sci-Fi70,000 - 115,000
Romance
50,000 - 80,000
Suspence/Horror70,000 - 100,000
Mystery70,000 - 100,000
Contemporary65,000 - 90,000
Middle Grade25,000 - 65,000

Keep in mind that these are a baseline. You want to make sure your novel is in the ballpark word count for your genre and target audience but just remember that you can easily go over or under depending on how well the story is crafted…

…and if it covers our 5 key milestones – it will be crafted well.

What’s the Difference Between Pantser Versus Plotter

A plotter is someone who plans out their novel with an outline before actually writing, whereas a pantser is someone who writes with seemingly no direction – they write by the seat of their pants.

Are you a plotter or a pantser? Fiction authors tend to fall into one of two buckets when writing their books.

Pantsers

These are writers who basically only have a few vague elements about the story in mind when they start writing, but nothing else.

One of the most famous pantsers is Stephen King. In interviews, Stephen King has said that he often has an idea of the beginning, the premise, and a vague idea how it’s all going to end – and that’s all he needs to start writing his book.

Plotters

These are writers who need to know every piece of their story, down to the minute detail, before they will write a single word. They have full, complete outlines that serve as a guide for their writing.

They will know who each and every one of their characters are, what their motivations are, the chapters needed for the book, chapter sections, and in some cases, even paragraphs. Probably the most famous plotter out there is James Patterson.

Knowing if you’re a plotter or pantser will dictate your entire writing process.

Clearly, it’s possible to be successful whether you’re a plotter or pantser. But here’s the harsh reality: whereas Stephen King and James Patterson sit on opposite extremes of the ‘Outline Spectrum’, most of us fall somewhere in between.

But that still doesn’t answer the question: Are you a pantser or a plotter?

My best advice is to be something in between. Someone who looks beyond the “outline” of a novel, and identifies something much more important in their story…the 5 key milestones we’re about to reveal to you.

how to write a novel panster versus plotter

How to Write a Novel with 5 Key Milestones of Every Successful Novel

Most novels and movies have five key points that make up the core of their story – it’s a formula that’s been around for longer than books have.

What’s more, these milestones are something that readers have subconsciously been trained to look for when digesting a piece of fiction.

In other words, if you don’t have these five key moments, your reader is likely to turned off of your story because it didn’t meet expectations set by the hundreds (if not thousands) of stories they have already digested before yours.

Let’s get started.

#1 – The Setup

This is where you make your story promise and write an introduction that pulls readers in.

You tell your reader what kind of story it will be – a comedy drama, mystery, fantasy, sci-fi – and you give a few clues as to what they can expect. Whatever you said in these initial pages must be followed to the end of your story.

A stone-cold drama cannot turn into a slapstick comedy by the end of the story. That doesn’t mean a stone-cold drama can’t have humor in it, it just means that you can suddenly pivot and become an Adam Sandler movie.

Also, during the setup, we learn a little bit about:

  • The characters
  • Their everyday lives
  • Their challenges
  • The world they live in

We get a sense of where the story is heading.

One mistake made by first-time fiction authors is that they do not properly set up the story expectations and the reader goes in expecting one thing, only to get another.

Nothing annoys readers more, and so it is essential that during the setup phase of your novel, you set the expectations that you will meet during the book or you’ll lose those 5-star reviews that make such a difference.

The Setup Example:

In the Hunger Games, we meet Katniss. From her surroundings, it is obvious that she is poor, and as soon as she steps outside of her wooden shack we see hovering drones.

Within the first few pages of this book, we have learned three essential things:

  • This book is a drama
  • Katniss is our heroine and she has a miserable life
  • SURPRISE! There are drones and other technologies that indicate this to be a sci-fi
  • We are about to read a dystopia set sometime in the future
How to Write a Novel Action Step: Ask yourself these questions.

  • What does your story’s setup look like?
  • What happens?
  • What story promises do you make?

Create a list of everything your reader needs to learn in order to enter your story’s world before crafting your introduction.

#2 – The Inciting Incident

The inciting incident is the moment in your story when your hero’s life changes forever. It is the ‘no-going back’ moment, where nothing that happens afterwards will return your hero’s world back to normal.

Katniss volunteers, Neo takes the blue pill, Dorothy lands in OZ … the aliens are here!

As soon as your inciting incident happens, your story should be full throttle towards the climax.

The most common mistake first-time authors make is that their inciting incident is reversible. That means that something could happen that would return the hero’s life back to normal.

No, no, no!

Your inciting incident should as final as the severing of a limb or a death of a loved one. Nothing should be able to reverse the effects of your inciting incident has on your hero.how to write a novel inciting incident

Inciting Incident Example:

Katniss volunteers! In the Hunger Games, the inciting incident is irreversible because – quite literally – soldiers grab Katniss, whisk her away from her world, and into the world of the games.

There is no escape.

And even if she could get away, she would be hunted by the Capital for the rest of her life. With those two simple words, “I volunteer!” her life has changed forever.

Note: There is an exception to this rule when it comes to romances.

With romances, the inciting incident is almost always when the two lovebirds meet. (Not always, but for the vast majority of romances, this is the case.) With romances, try to create an inciting incident that simultaneously shows how perfect these two people are for each other while setting up the numerous reasons why they can’t be together.

How to Write a Novel Action Step: Answer these questions in full and complete the brainstorming activity.

  • What is your inciting incident?
  • Is it strong enough?
  • Are there ways you could up the stakes or shorten the timeline?
  • How can you make it your inciting incident as impactful and irreversible as possible?

Brainstorm several inciting incidents… Don’t settle for one. Take a look at your inciting incidents and ask yourself this: Which one of these is the harshest, deadliest inciting incident of the bunch. Then pick that one.

#3 – The First Slap

Now, we are away to the races!

Over the next few chapters, your character should be making a series of gains and losses, where the aggregate result is that their situation is slightly better than what it was at the moment of the inciting incident.

The reason why we need this upward trajectory is because we are setting up the reader for the first slap.

The first slap is the moment when everything that our hero has gained is lost in fell swoop. Your hero is brought down to zero. In other words, all gains are lost, and your hero’s situation has never been bleaker.

The greater the fall, the more engaged your reader will be.how to write a novel structure

First Slap Example:

In the Hunger Games, Katniss’s world is brought down to zero when she actually enters the Games.

Between the inciting incident on the first slap, Katniss has made several gains, garnering the attention of the Capital and making some friends along the way. But none of that matters the moment she enters the Games – and what a moment it is.

How to Write a Novel Action Step: Brainstorm what your first slap can be. Like with the inciting incident, try to come up with 3-5 scenarios and pick the one that is harshest.

Take a look at all the events that could potentially happen between the inciting incident and the first slap. This is a loose mind map as you are not committing to anything at this point, but do try to get a sense of whether or not your hero will be making gains and losses (with a net value of gains) and try to assess whether or not the first slap is harsh enough to truly wow your reader.

Remember, you want your readers to hate you for what you’ve done to the characters they love.

#4 -The Second Slap

Your hero has rose to the challenge! They have successfully thwarted the big evil that has been thrusted upon them by the first slap and she is doing well.

…Now it is time to bring her back to 0 again.

The second slap should be as harsh, if not harsher, than the first slap. This is the moment when the reader should be looking at your book and thinking, “Wow, this author is mean. Diabolical villain mean!”

But there are two essential differences between the second slap and the first:

In the second slap we are setting up for the climax, which means that the hero needs to have an out. In other words, there should be some semblance of hope.how to write a novel

Second Slap Example:

In the Hunger Games, the second slap is when the Game Masters announce that two tributes can survive the Games should they both be from the same district.

Katniss goes looking for Peeta, only to find him mortally wounded – he is bleeding to death and won’t survive the next few hours, let alone the rest of the Games. We know enough about Katniss to realize that Peeta dying is the worst thing that could happen to her (besides her own death).

But there is hope!

An announcement is made that there is something at the cornucopia that the Tributes need, and Katniss just knows that there is medicine there for Peeta.

How to Write a Novel Action Step: Brainstorm several seconds slaps and pick the harshest one.

Then ask yourself: where is the hope and how will it lead into the climax?

#5 – The Climax

The rollercoaster that you’ve put your reader on is almost over.

The reader has gone from an engaging setup where they get to learn about your characters and world to the inciting incident where everything is turned on its head.

Then they are subjected to the first and second slaps where you embrace your inner sadomasochist in order to punish your hero and give the readers the thrills they so richly deserve.

Now it is time to wrap it all up with the climax.

There is only one rule to the climax. A rule that must be adhered to, no matter what genre you are writing in:

Make it amazing! The climax should be the moment where your reader puts down the book and goes, “Holy S&*%! That was awesome!”

Novel Climax Example:

The climax in the Hunger Games is the final confrontation between Katniss and the remaining Tributes, as well as the monsters that the Game Masters send after her. It is wrought with danger and excitement.

But what makes the climax truly kickass is the poisonous berries at the end.

If you don’t know what I’m talking about, pick up a copy of Hunger Games today and read it! You’ll immediately get why this scene is so amazing.

How to Write a Novel Action Step: Brainstorm your kickass climactic scene!

Show us how amazing, smart, resourceful, powerful your hero is when overcoming their final obstacles, but remember to make sure it’s realistic and makes sense for your character.

 

There you have it: how to write a book is made much easier with your 5 key milestones. This method is particularly effective for first-time authors who are still finding their writing feet (or should I say typing fingers) and is an awesome resource that experienced writers can rely on time and again when planning their stories.

The 5 Key Milestones combined with a spot-on Premise and A-Story will tell you where your story starts, where it is headed and how it will end.

In other words, if you do the novel writing exercises above, you should have everything you need to get your novel to the finish line.

how to write a novel

And if you need a bit of extra help, I’m going through these 5 Key Milestones in a lot more detail in an upcoming webinar I’m going to conduct with Chandler Bolt. Get the full scoop and register to join us (before we fill up!) here.

Writer’s Block: How to Beat Writer’s Block and Control The Flow of Words

You probably don’t want to hear what I have to say about writer’s block.

But first, let’s uncover what it really is and how writer’s block can affect you.

Writing is hard enough on its own without writer’s block crawling into your brain and snatching up the words you really need to get that chapter done.

But the thing is, we’ve all been there before.

Every writer has experienced the struggle of forcing words onto a document one by one, dragging them kicking and screaming from the corners of your mind only to be left with a single sentence…one hour later.

And you don’t even really like that sentence.

What’s Causing Your Writer’s Block? QUIZ!

In order to cure an illness, you have to know what’s causing it first, right?

Before you take another step or scroll even an inch further, take this quiz because without knowing the why, you can’t possibly find a cure that’s best for your writer’s block.

writer's block quiz

Being Informed is the Key to Beating Writer’s Block

If you want to cut right to the chase – and save some time – we can sum up what writer’s block is all about: not being prepared.

The more you know and understand about the publishing process, the less you’ll become blocked because you’ll have clear direction – one of the biggest reasons writer’s block encompasses your mind.

And to do that, we put together the free training you need.

With your FREE training, we can help you understand what it takes to write a book, avoid that self-doubt your writer’s block seems to feed on, and show you HOW to self-publish it so the maximum number of people can enjoy it.

Just click the button below to TAKE ACTION on your dream – and let’s do this together.

What is Writer’s Block?

Writer’s block is a nasty hindrance where you just can’t think of what to write no matter how hard you try and how much you challenge your mind – and a blank document quickly becomes your worst enemy. Even the best authors out there still deal with this from time to time.

It can slow down your progress and end up taking much longer for you to write your book.

And with so many reasons for writer’s block to take hold – like insecurity, a lack of direction, or maybe even just a bad writing day – it can put you down and complicate the whole writing process.

Getting rid of it is not only the best thing for your book’s progress, but for writing faster and with more quality overall.

If you, much like the rest of us, have ever dealt with writer’s block, here’s how you can sever its annoying restraints for good!

What causes writer’s block?

Underlying issues like insecurity, a lack of direction with your plot, or even too many potential options for your book can cause writer’s block along with your creative “tank” being empty.

While this might sound bad, the best part about all of these is this: they’re preventable.

How to Overcome Writer’s Block by Prevention

Why do we wash our hands frequently during flu season?

That’s right. To prevent succumbing to debilitating illnesses.

And why do we get our oil changed regularly even when our vehicles are (seemingly) running well?

Right again! To prevent breaking down on the interstate and destroying our vehicles from the inside out.

That’s exactly why writer’s block is best beat by preventing the darn thing in the first place!

But how do you do that? It’s not like you can wash your brain or change its oil.

Well, not in a literal sense, you can’t. But you can try a few of these methods to keep your creative juices flowing like Niagara Falls in the springtime.

#1 – Outline Your Book

If there’s one technique that’ll prevent writer’s block the best, it’s having an outline.

These handy tools you didn’t pay attention to creating in school are essentially roadmaps for your book. They cover what happens next and what specific information you need to include.

There are a number of ways you can create your outline; using sticky notes, writing it in bullet points, or even using one that’s attached to a writing software.

How can you not know what to write next if you already have an outline telling you exactly that?

Many of us are stuck and blocked simply because we’re not sure what we should be writing next. Your imagination is at a standstill. You may just be divided between which path your book could potentially take.

Creating a thorough outline squashes those issues so you can write fluidly, quickly, and with quality.

When you’re not focused on what to write next, you can turn your attention to the quality of your writing while pumping out those words much faster, rendering writer’s block inactive.

writer's block cure outline

#2 – Research Beforehand

There’s nothing worse than getting into your writing groove only to freeze because you’re not 100% certain of the facts you’re putting down. Your mind goes blank and the words stop coming.

But since you’ve outlined your book, you know what you’re going to write before you even type that first word. Which means you know the research you need to do beforehand.

Having all the facts makes writing a breeze, and it can also kick-start some fresh ideas and a more imaginative way of thinking.

Knowing more about a subject enables you to better explain it and writer’s block will run screaming for the hills.

#3 – Write More Often

How often do you write right now? One day a week? A few days a week?

The more you write, the more effortless writing becomes. It’s like running, or exercising in general; the more often you do it, the easier it gets.

Not writing regularly weakens those creative muscles. It makes it harder to think in an innovative way, and so you spend hours on a single page simply trying to find a better way to phrase something that’s not even critical to your story.

Keep those writer muscles strong by writing as often as you can – every day, even! If you’ve got the time to flex your creativity, do it.

writer's block solution example

Using a tracking sheet like the one above is a great way to schedule out your goals and then execute in a way that makes you WANT to write every day.

This particular sheet is from a NaNoWriMo blog post, but it serves as a writer’s block cure as well.

How do you get over writer’s block?

So you didn’t survive the preventative measures. That’s okay! We’ve all been there at one time or another and thankfully, we also managed to get through it.

Writer’s block may be fickle and frustrating, but it’s not without weaknesses.

All you have to do is find a way to break through to your true creativity and these are some of the best ways to destroy writer’s block and find the words again.

#1 – Write Anyway

I know what you’re thinking:

“But I can’t! I’m blocked!”

Most of the time, you may just be out of practice and need to find your rhythm again. Even if you’re struggling to get the words out, write them down anyway.

You may not like it and you may go back to change what you wrote later, but it’s the single best way to force writer’s block into submission.

It can’t win if you still write despite its grip on you.

So get those words down and after a little while, writer’s block will scurry back into the darkest corner of your mind and stay there. Finding your flow is sometimes all you really need.

Writer’s Block Action Step: If you’re feeling blocked with your current story, perform a writing exercise where you just describe your day in prose – like you would writing. Make yourself the main character and craft your day like you would a story in order to gain that momentum again.

#2 – Read

Nothing can get your mind in a creative state more than reading. Picking up a book – any kind of book – and spending 30 minutes reading can spark your imagination and light a fire under you to get back to writing.

It’ll also motivate and inspire you to work harder to reach your goal of publishing a book.

When you’re holding someone else’s hard work in your hands, it’s proof your dream can come true. It’s justifying everything you’ve worked so hard for.

That may just be the push you need to shove writer’s block from your mind and get back to your work.

Never underestimate the power of a good book.

Writer’s Block Action Step: Grab your favorite book and spend 30 minutes reading it – or until you feel inspired and ready to write again. Trust us, it works!

#3 – Get Moving

Exercise isn’t just great for your body, it’s also powerful for your mind.

Scientifically speaking, exercising more not only increases your mood, but your creativity gets a boost as well!

It’s not always easy to coerce yourself into going for a run or even doing a few sit-ups at home when you just settled into your comfy couch to write, but if writer’s block is preventing you from actually getting any productive wordsmithing done, it could make a huge difference.

You can simply do some jumping jacks or take a quick walk around the block. Stimulating your creativity physically might just beat writer’s block for you!

Writer’s Block Action Step: Get off your butt and do a few jumping jacks! Spend at least 3 minutes doing some sort of exercise, or even go for a full 30-60 minute workout before coming back to writing.

#4 – Take a Walk or a Drive

Mindless tasks help your brain get out of a funk because it frees it from focusing on your daily tasks, the insecurity you may feel about writer’s block, and even the pressure of finishing your book.

The more you can let your mind go, the more creative it becomes. Plus, a change of scenery never hurts the creative process.

Always looking at the same place or even sitting in the same spot to write can be an issue. It’s hard to come up with new ideas and think creatively when you never have anything new fueling your imagination.

Taking a walk or going for a short drive can help you recharge so you can kick that writer’s block to the curb and get back to writing again.

Writer’s Block Action Step: Put on those shoes and hit the pavement. Take 10 minutes and observe your surroundings. Pick one thing you see outside and throughout the duration of your walk, craft a story in your mind focusing on that object.

#5 – Talk it Out

Are you struggling with something specific? Sometimes the confines of your own mind isn’t the best place to work through your writer’s block.

You may be the type of person who needs to verbalize your concerns in order to work through them. And that means you need to get up and actually speak to someone (or even yourself!) about what you’re struggling with.

Writer’s block feeds on uncertainty. The more you question what you’re doing, the worse it’ll get.

By talking through it out loud, you’ll have a new perspective. This will often offer fresh solutions that’ll make you eager to get back to that keyboard.

Writer’s Block Action Step: Try to get your critique partner on the phone or active via messenger. Tell them what’s going on and even ask if they want to take a look at where you left off to bounce ideas off each other.

#6 – Find Inspiration

There are a lot of ways you can go about getting inspired again. While inspiration isn’t necessarily required to write, it certainly helps your drive and imagination.

These are a few ways to get rid of writer’s block if you feel lost:

  • Research related images on Pinterest
  • Read through your outline
  • Read a related book
  • Create a vision board for your book
  • Create a list of goals for after your book is complete
  • Listen to an influential Podcast
  • Watch or read successful author interviews

Inspiration is specific to each person. Meaning, it may take a few attempts before finding the method that works best for you.

Anything that rouses your excitement to write again tramples that pesky writer’s block.

Writer’s Block Action Step: Get on Pinterest or just Google and look up images that are reminiscent of your book, theme, or story. Compile a folder or board of these and notice the details that make them related to your book.

#7 – Put Your Phone Away!

Are you really experiencing writer’s block or is that “block” in the shape of your phone?

A lot of us love to use the excuse of “writer’s block” in order to justify spending far too much time perusing our social feeds.

While there’s nothing wrong with wanting to catch up with friends and stay in the know, sometimes it can drag you away from achieving the goal of writing your book.

What you need may not be a cure for writer’s block at all, but something completely different: self-control.

If you struggle to focus on the task of writing and you somehow always find your phone open to a mind-sucking app, it’s a good idea to switch your phone to silent and shove it aside for the remainder of your writing time.

This alone might be enough to get rid of what’s really blocking your stream of words.

Writer’s Block Action Step: Put your phone in a completely different room and on silent. This will stop you from opening your phone just to scroll and will block any other messages from distracting you until you’re done writing.

#8 – Reread Your Writing

As mentioned above, getting into a rhythm is essential for keeping writer’s block at bay. When you suddenly can’t come up with the right words to describe what’s going on in your mind, it could be because you’ve lost momentum.

Taking some time to reread your previous writing can help by putting you in the same frame of mind you were in the last time you had to stop writing.

This will catapult your brain back into the right place so you can make progress and write easily again.

Writer’s Block Action Step: Head back to the beginning of your current chapter (or the beginning of the previous one if you’re just starting a new one) and just read. Allow your mind to get lost in your own words. You can go further back to read if needed.

#9 – Stop Comparing Your Writing

“Comparison is the thief of joy.”

Theodore Roosevelt knew as much and we’d wager to bet it also steals any progress you could be making.

The more you worry about how your writing compares to someone else’s (who usually has much more experience than you), the harder it will be to write anything.

That’s where writer’s block comes from in this instance.

You’ll find fault with every word and every sentence even though your work is fantastic the way it is.

Remember that nobody can write the story you are. Your voice and perspective are what makes your book unique in the first place. Changing this will only pull you further away from your identity as a writer.

And most importantly, comparing your writing to someone else’s isn’t productive or helpful for anyone.

Writer’s Block Action Step: Write down 10 things you love about your writing. Get specific and mention why you love your dialogue or why your theme is so unique and special. Recognize your own strengths and then say them outloud to yourself.

#10 – Think of the Big Picture

Writing and publishing a book can be a long, hard process. Sure, the first week is exciting and you want to write all the words but that motivation probably won’t last through the entire process because it is work, after all.

You’ll have rough days – including moments when writer’s block takes hold. What’ll get you through them the easiest is taking a step back and thinking about the big picture.

Ask yourself some of these questions to get rid of writer’s block:

  • Why did you want to write this story?
  • How will it benefit you?
  • How will it benefit others?
  • What message do you hope others receive?

Pushing yourself to view your writing in terms of the end goal will not only motivate you to get started and put some words down, but it’ll also help remind you of your true purpose for telling this story.

Writer’s Block Action Step: Write down the answers to the questions above in detail. Then read them out loud to yourself, really hear your own purpose for this book and that can often unclog your writer brain.

How Long Does Writer’s Block Last?

Writer’s block lasts as long as you allow it to, which can often be days or even weeks if you don’t act on it and try these preventative and curing methods.

Ultimately, the longer you put off dealing with the underlying causes of writer’s block, the longer it will last.

Face your writer’s block head-on in order to get rid of it for good and get back to creating something that will resonate with people from all over.

Overcome Writer’s Block by Staying Informed

The more you know, the less you have to worry about and since that is such a major cause of writer’s block, we’re offering you this FREE training where Chandler Bolt walks you through exactly what you need to know to write, market, and self-publish your book within 90 days!

With your FREE training, we can help you understand what it takes to write a book, avoid that self-doubt your writer’s block seems to feed on, and show you HOW to self-publish it so the maximum number of people can enjoy it.

Just click the button below to TAKE ACTION on your dream – and let’s do this together.

Ultimately, preventing and beating writer’s block should be at the top of your to-do list if you want to write and publish a book in a reasonable timeframe. With this annoyance behind you, your mind will be free and it may even stir up more creative ideas for other writing projects.

Do you have any effective methods for getting rid of writer’s block? What works best for you and how do you cope with this nuisance?

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