Posted by: nancyisanders | May 28, 2013

Writer’s Block


Some people argue that nobody should get writer’s block. Other people say they’ve got writer’s block and don’t know what to do.

Well, I don’t know all the ups and downs of these conversations on writer’s block, but I do know one thing. As a writer I get stuck sometimes.

It’s like quilting. Here in this photo you can see three quilts. One quilt is in the background and 2 matching ones are hanging in the front. (I have to hang up my quilts as I’m working on them. Otherwise my 2 cats take possession of them and snuggle in them and leave deposits of cat hair all over them!)

Why am I working on 3 quilts at once?

Because I got stuck.

I was working on the quilt in the back, the big one I was talking about in my last post. When suddenly, I got stuck. I wanted to quilt the top with a stipple design, but I practiced it several times and it wasn’t working. I watched a bunch of youtube videos on stipple quilting, but when I practiced on my own, it still didn’t work. So I’m going to ask a quilting friend who knows how to stipple how to do it.

But I won’t see her for another month.

So in the meantime, I started 2 matching quilts. One to give to my niece and nephew for their first baby and one to keep for my future grandbabies.

I do the same thing when I have writer’s block (or whatever you want to call it). When I get stuck on one project, I set it aside for a day or a week or even a month. Then, while I study or learn a technique I need to use at that next spot in my manuscript or try to think of ideas to move forward, I work on another project.

I don’t just quit and give up. I set it aside with full intent of coming back and finishing it later when I’ve had time to address the issue that has given me trouble.

And in the meantime, I work on other projects to keep moving forward.

So many writers I run into just give up on writing altogether when they encounter writer’s block. They don’t write for months or even years. Don’t be like them. If you encounter writer’s block while you’re working on your novel, set it aside for awhile and take time to learn the techniques you need to get back to it.

In the meantime, start a new picture book or a nonfiction magazine article. Keep writing! Keep moving forward and be productive even if you’re stuck in one area.

Then, when you’ve finished that other project, chances are that you’ll be able to come back to your first project refreshed and ready to tackle it once again!


  1. I like this idea Nancy. It is deceivingly simple…yet could be very effective for me. The next time I’m stuck on something, I’m going to try to shift to something else rather than quit writing all together. I’ll let you know how it goes.

    • Yay Audrey! I can’t wait to hear how this goes for you. Another idea is to set aside the particular spot you’re working on and work on something else IN THE SAME MANUSCRIPT. For example, if you get stuck writing the next scene. Put that scene aside for a couple of days and work on your character development for awhile or draw a map of your setting to get a concrete sense of where the story is taking place. Then, when your brain is ready to tackle that next scene once again, you’ll be fresh and ready to go.

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