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Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Getting Past the Block, Guest Blog by Author Jo Ramsey

Getting Past the Block
     Last spring, I did an appearance at my town’s middle school. I spent the entire day doing presentations in the school library, and one question that I was asked by nearly every group was, “Do you ever get writer’s block?”
     Short answer: Yes. Frequently.
     I don’t think there’s a writer alive who doesn’t deal with writer’s block at one time or another. If such a writer exists, I’d really love to meet him or her and find out the secret to not getting blocked! No matter what one is writing, there are always going to be times when the story isn’t going quite the way you want it to, or when you aren’t sure what way you want the story to go. Eventually the block gives way and the writing starts to flow again, but sometimes that can take a while.
     So what does a writer do when writer’s block attacks? Personally, I’m usually working on more than one project at a time. I write romance (under a super top-secret pen name) as well as young adult, so I kind of have to have more than one project going or I wouldn’t be able to get everything written that I need to. Sometimes that pace is a little hectic, but it does give me a way to deal with writer’s block. If I get stuck on one story, I just work on another one for a while. Sometimes all I need to get past the block is to stop trying to figure out where the problem is.
     That would be my advice to any writer. If you’re blocked, put the story aside for a little while. Work on something else, or go for a walk, or watch a brain-candy TV show. When you try too hard to push through the block, sometimes it backfires and you end up more stuck than you were before. Or you end up with a bunch of words that you have to delete because you only wrote them to get past the block and they don’t really work for the story.
     If you step back from the story and focus your mind on other things, part of your brain will probably keep working on that story. At least, that’s what happens with me. As soon as I stop consciously thinking about the block and how I can work through it, part of my mind keeps processing and all of a sudden, the perfect solution pops into my head. I don’t know if everyone’s brain works that way, but if you’re fighting writer’s block, it might be worth a try.
     And you might end up with something better than what you expected.
     Jo Ramsey is the author of several novels for young adults, including the two urban fantasy series Reality Shift and The Dark Lines, and the upcoming contemporary novel Cluing In. She has been writing since age five. Jo lives in Massachusetts with her two daughters, her husband, and two cats, one of whom has declared herself the mighty hunter of the household. Find out more about Jo and her books, and where else to find her online, on her website,



  1. Butt-in-chair worked for me this morning. It’s worked every time I had whatever-it-is that called me to ‘just do it.’ Allowing oneself not to write only masterpieces is key.

  2. I'm a lot like you, Jo. When I get stuck, it helps me to take a break from the story. When that doesn't work, I'll bring a few pages to my critique group. Their comments often help me figure out what needs to happen next or if something isn't working.

  3. I agree: multiple projects and knowing when to take a break. Works for me, too! Thanks for the post. Reminds us that the blocks are just part of the process.

  4. Great advice. I really believe in letting your unconscious work on the story; it does!