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Getting In The Groove: Exercises to Clear Writer's Block

Excerpted from Blocks: The Enlightened Way to Clear Writer's Block and Find Your Creative Flow
by Tom Evans | Updated September 9, 2018

The more you write, the better you get at it. Not only that, you will find your vocabulary improves. If you choose not to practice, the opposite can happen.

Like all mental activity, writing uses specific areas in the brain.

Simply doing it brings blood with oxygen and nutrients to the relevant part of the brain which exercises, strengthens and multiplies connections between neurons.

If you want to run that marathon, you start with shorter runs to build up stamina, muscle strength and endurance. You may also get tips from people who have done it.

Unlike marathon running, you can stop for a rest at any time when writing and begin again when the mood takes you.

This next exercise is to be repeated daily and is designed to work the bits of your brain that may be neglected. It's a technique recommended by Julia Cameron in her book The Artist's Way which I shamelessly borrow from and blatantly plug here.

The book has loads of other great tips and I highly recommend it.

Julia recommends you write something every day, ideally just after waking and in a quiet environment. She calls them "morning pages."

If you want to make them your midday or evening pages, that's fine and feel free to write more than once a day. If you wake in the early hours, writing can be cathartic and help you get back to sleep once you've downloaded those inner thoughts.

You may also find that writing a blog each day works for you. As mentioned before, many books have emerged from blogging.

What happens is that all of a sudden you see that a collection of your writings and musings can be collated into a whole book and, without knowing it, you've written it. This may be a selection of short stories or poems. It may be a self-help or personal development book like this one which came from a set of PowerPoint exercises I run in my workshops that I then scripted and narrated for an online course.

Breaking the writing of a book down like this also allows you to serialise it, either in a magazine or perhaps in an email autoresponder sequence.

Exercise 1: Flexing your writing muscles

Complete two to three sheets in notebook (or on your iPad if you are that way inclined) every morning. You can write anything you like; here are some examples:

  • Base your writing on your dreams
  • Describe the events of yesterday, especially what was good
  • Describe your ideal day or be creative & make up your best day ever
  • Describe the room you are in — or the room you would like to be in
  • Have a go at the next chapter of a book you are stuck on
  • Write some poetry
  • Write a blog post
  • Write an entertaining or erudite Tweet each day on
  • Or Tweet a whole story as I did on
  • Write a story in just Six Sentences and submit it to

Spend between 10 & 20 minutes on this exercise — or, if you find you get in flow, keep writing. You will be amazed what comes from this process.

Exercise 2: Active Reading

Another crucial skill for writers is to read, and to read regularly.

Reading as a writer requires a different mindset to reading as someone who does not write.

This doesn't mean you have to read everything with a critical eye, like a literary critic, or to take twice as long over it. You just have to become aware of your feelings and thoughts when reading something. Specifically, pay attention to something you enjoyed or found interesting.

When you find a book you really like, take time to re-read sections of it. Pay attention to several things that you may have been only unconsciously aware of:

  • The cover of the book
  • The font type and size
  • The way the text is laid out on the page
  • The language used

Read the opening paragraph of the introduction or a section you particularly liked again.

With these in mind, describe your feelings:

  • What do you think about the book?
  • How does this make you think and feel about the author?
  • What do you feel in your gut?
  • What do you sense in your heart?
  • What is going on in your head?
  • What new ideas does thinking like this bring to you?

Then next time you write something, bear this type of thinking in mind before you even start.

Next: Writing: The Physicality Of Inspiration

©2011 Tom Evans. All rights reserved.