Your 4-Step Secret Formula to Overcoming Writers’ Block

You’ve almost hit the midpoint of National Nonfiction Writing Month (NaNonFiWriMo). Have you hit a mid-NaNonFiWriMo writing slump or are you still going strong?

It’s not uncommon to feel fired up when you begin the Write Nonfiction in November Challenge (WNFIN) only to find your energy burning low about now. You may even find your fire has gone out. If so, you might be staring at the blank page wondering how you will ever meet your WNFIN goal.

Not to worry. Today, on Day #13, Mary E. Knippel, Your Writing Mentor, provides a bit of fuel for your fire. Put her four steps to use, and you’ll find the fires of creativity blazing once again. This post, coupled with earlier advice from my creativity and productivity experts, should keep you going until the end of NaNonFiWriMo.

Your 4-Step Secret Formula to Overcoming Writers’ Block

By Mary E. Knippel

Do you have writers' block?Want a secret writing formula guaranteed to access brilliant writing—even when you feel frustrated and freaked out because the words just won’t flow?

Well, I confess…my secret formula…the one that works for me when I have writers’ block, unfortunately won’t help you overcome your writers’ block.

It’s true. Ask anyone who has ever had to come up with a certain number of words by a specific deadline, they will tell you there is no ONE thing guaranteed to get you to write on command. Every writer has developed their own method, their own form of discipline to stay motivated and on track.

What I can share is how to create your very own Secret Writing Formula.

Step # 1:  Three key questions to keep in mind when you write:
  • Who is your reader, what problem/dilemma are you solving for that reader, and why does that reader need to read this now?
  • What is the one thing you want your reader to take away after reading your work?
  • What do you want your reader to feel or do in as a result of reading your work?
Step #2: Follow through on your decision to write.

Now…how to combine your writing passion with that pesky word, “discipline?” Think of discipline as your structure (conscious control over your lifestyle), personal recipe, individual approach, or part of “your secret formula” to help you write.

You have the freedom to decide when, where and how you write; the discipline is your follow-through on the decision, the commitment, to write for a specific amount of time at a designated location. The quality of the writing, and whether or not you share what you write is up to you.

Step #3:  Add a dash of creativity!

Put the spark into your writing while facing down frustration, avoiding freaking out and facing that blank page or screen with some creativity. Wouldn’t it be delightful if you could eliminate writers’ block by calling on our Creativity Muse to perform just like commanding a dog to sit or roll over?

You can. I suggest you try these little tricks to coax and “invite” creativity into your life:

  • Make a list. Take 15 minutes right now to make a list of possible topics you want to write about—at least 30 so that you have something new every day for a month. Cut them up into strips and put them in a basket, jar, or your cowboy hat. The idea is that you will use the topic you draw from your “inspiration container” to do a timed writing and get the writing pump primed when you sit down to write. After you’ve done a timed writing, you can dive deeper into your specific writing project.
  • Calendar. Schedule and block out time on your calendar dedicated to when you will write. Showing up to write is the same as showing up at the gym to work out. You train your body’s muscles as you train your writing muscles to show up and perform. Decide whether it is 15 minutes in the morning and 15 minutes before you go to bed, half an hour during your lunch break, or if you can devote a full hour at 4 a.m. every day. (It doesn’t have to be 4 a.m., but I wanted to see if you were paying attention! Some people do get up at that time when the house is quiet and they can write uninterrupted. If you are a night owl, maybe writing from 11 p.m. until midnight will be your magic hour. You get to decide!)
  • Accountability. Tell someone when you will write, for how long, and when you will report that you have written. The act of daily check-in and being held accountable takes your writing out of hiding and forces you to be productive. You can keep it private with a friend who will acknowledge your continued plan of action, or, make it public and perhaps share your progress in an appropriate Facebook group.
Step #4:  Have fun!
  • Write with colorful pens, markers, crayons, or colored pencils.
  • Get creative with your journal and decorate the pages.
  • Make a collage so that the pictures tell the story as well as your words.
  • Let your imagination soar and take dictation from your muse.
  • Take yourself to a museum, out to the park, to the beach, or ____________________ to write.
  • Use a favorite poem, copy a favorite passage from a novel, or dialogue from a play to jump-start your timed writing.
  • Do something to keep you hands busy while your mind meditates on your story:  blow bubbles, get squishy with water colors, try your hand at painting, stamping, or knitting.
About the Author

Mary E Knippel 9.2013 smlMary E. Knippel, Writer Unleashed, uses her 25 years of experience as a journalist to work with her clients from concept to creation to write everything from blogs to books. As Your Writing Mentor, Mary helps aspiring authors with their manuscripts and entrepreneurs with their messages to polish their words so that they stand out, sparkle and shine from the start.

Mary has participated in the San Francisco Writers Conference since it’s inception ten years ago, and currently is a break-out session co-presenter, “Learn to be Your Own Editor,” as well as the conference Coordinator of the Independent Editors offering on-the-spot editing advice to conference attendees.

“The Secret Artist,” part memoir, part self-help, is Mary’s soon to be published book about her breast cancer experience and the tremendous healing powers we can all access when we tap into our creativity. She is an active member and past president of the San Francisco Chapter of the Women’s National Book Assn (WNBA-SF), and a past board of the Peninsula Branch of the California Writer’s Club (CWC).

Visit her on the web at to read her blog, sign up for her next workshop, or to find out where you can hear her speak.

Photo courtesy of iofoto |


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  2. […] your message on your blog, in an article, or updating your social media status…here’s Your 4-Step Secret Formula to Overcoming Writers Block. I hope you enjoy it and find it […]

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