Annie On Writing

September 22, 2010

Stuck for a Word? Tips to avoid Writers Block

writer's block

Writers Block

This article first appeared over at write anything.

Staring at your screen or beginning to doodle with your pen because you are stuck for a word or way of expressing something? Although it may be a matter of pride to continue in a linear fashion; this may lead to wasted time and opportunities for your story to progress. Try some of these hints to get to the heart of your message or story.

Use Technology

The blessing of our networking technology is that there is always someone awake when you are writing. So instead of shaking your slumbering partner and asking them “whats the word for….??”… Twitter it, or use Facebook; and wait for the answers to roll in.

Use “ITTS”

“I’m trying to say.”

Step away from your text and write down what you are actually trying to say conversationally.. ie “I’m trying to say that ………… ” and continue with an explanation of the images, feelings or ideas you want to capture without editing or judging the writing style. Redreaft this piece into your original work and read it through. You may cross out half of these words as you redraft, but eventually you will find the heart of the message or image you originally wanted and be able to continue.

Skip it and come back later.

Seriously. Don’t get stuck on a word or idea and allow that to suck away all of your creativity. There are a number of writers who simply type/ write “action goes here” or “witty conversation here” , jump over it and write the rest of the scene. As you write, the word or phrase will resurface and demand it be written in immediately!

Keep it simple

There are some who believe that good writing is filled with words which requires a dictionary as it is being read. Whilst this may suit some stretches of writing or styles, for the most, good writing is clear, simple and specific. For most readers and writers, being caught up with intellectual words distracts from the main message.

Use a physical Thesaurus and Dictionary.

Just as there is a certain beauty in reading a book, there is a mystical effect when handling a thesaurus and dictionary. Words pop out, pages fall open to reveal the perfect term for the story. Buy the best you can afford and keep them close to your writing space.

Use your computer.

Most software programs come with thesaurus and spell checkers. Ensure you know the meanings of words it suggests before inserting.

Use the Internet.

There are some excellent dictionary and thesaurus sites available online. Ensure you bookmark them or have them open in a different tab while you are writing.

Learn a word a day.

Many families have a word a week or word a day posted to their fridge. Keep that habit going by keeping post it notes with your reading books and writing down any cool words you come across. Make a pact to use that word the next day. Keep a record of your new words in a wordbank and draw upon this when you are stuck.

Additionally, there are online resources which will email you a word a day. Try these two:

The next time a word attempts to escape your page, avoid the frustration of chewing your pen to pieces or drifting off to and try these techniques out ; they may just save your stress levels.

Image by Nahuel |Bossanostra| via Flickr


1 Comment »

  1. Thanks for the tips. I always keep open when I’m writing. Next time I get stuck, I’m going to try “ITTS”


    Comment by Laura Rachel Fox — September 22, 2010 @ 12:09 am | Reply

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI

Say something constructive... or nice at least.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

Create a free website or blog at

%d bloggers like this: