overcome writer's block romaniello

One of My Go-To Strategies to Overcome Writer’s Block

Every content creator deals with productivity issues, but trying to overcome writer’s block is a special kind of frustration that eats at your soul.
There’s no way to avoid writer’s block, but there are strategies to defeat it.

Paradoxically, the easiest and most effective way to overcome writer’s block is to just start writing. But “just write” seems bad advice when you’re having trouble writing.

Things become a bit clearer when we examine the source. Writer’s block is about judgment: feeling like whatever you produce won’t be good, or worth reading, or even worth writing.

Half of writing is being confident you’re able to write, which can be fostered by making the act of writing itself less scary.

We have trouble creating because we’re experiencing pressure to create something great. It feels too big or too important.

But it doesn’t have to be. It can be small and silly and fun. As long as you wind up with something on the page, you’re making progress. Even if what you write isn’t “usable,” it’s practice.

The Practical and Tactical Process to Overcome Writer’s Block

Whatever winds up on the page, the key to overcoming inertia and getting into flow is to get the gears moving. Some people journal. Some people make lists.

My approach to this is psychophysiological: understanding how our mechanical actions affect our mental state, in this case with regard to our assessment of capability.

Anyone familiar with my process for coaching writing has undoubtedly seen or heard me give the advice, lower the stakes.

Half of writing is being confident you’re able to write, which can be fostered by making the act of writing itself less scary.

From using the Notes app on your phone to writing by hand, I recommend a number of tools to help you get out of your own way.

But sometimes, even with all of those tools, trying to write content is too much, and you can’t get going.

When this happens, you’ve got to lower the stakes even further. And for that, the best approach to this is to write anything other than what you’re “supposed to be” writing.

For this reason, rather than focusing exclusively on content,1 I assign prompts to all of my clients.

And why I cannot recommend strongly enough you make writing prompts part of your writing practice.

    • Prompted writing help you overcome writer’s block in two ways:
      • Firstly, it solves the problem of not knowing what to write about. Narrowing the field of focus fosters greater ease of creation.
      • Secondly, assuming the topic isn’t your bailiwick, it allows you to be creative in a safe and pressure-free way.

Now, for one of my all-time favorite prompts.

Use This Prompt to Overcome Writer’s Block
and Create Writing Flow

Wanna Hear My Band Play?
If you were in a band, what would it be like? What kind of music would you play? How many albums would you have? What would you name your songs? Go deep and create as much as detail as you can.

A Little History

In the halcyon days of my misspent youth, I was deep in “the scene.”

My time was spent reveling in the music of prototypical early-2000s era pop-punk/emo bands in the vein of Blink-182, Dashboard Confessional, and Brand New.

Nothing feels real for me until I write about it. So I did. Over time, I turned out to be a dab hand as a lyricist and committed a number of songs to my journal. Now, that may have been because I was writing angsty heartbreak music and I was a pretty angsty, heartbroken kid—but, as the saying goes, write what you know.

The best approach to overcome writer’s block is to write anything other than what you’re “supposed to be” writing.

What surprised me was how smooth the process was, at least compared to other types of writing. I’m prone to editing as I write, agonizing over word choice, and generally moving slowly.

But not with lyrics; they always just…flowed. For all the struggle I experienced in other areas, penning lyrics never once led to writer’s block.

How I’ve Used This Prompt To Overcome Writer’s Block

Music and writing have always had a kind of consanguinity for me. I was never going to be an amazing singer, and I certainly didn’t have the patience to become an adequate guitarist. But, man, could I turn a phrase.

Using this prompt myself, I created an imaginary early 2000s-era emo band called The Annexation of Puerto Rico. Our songs are deep and meaningful, but all of our titles are reference-based.

Our first release was a self-produced EP titled Strange Things Are Afoot at the Circle-K, featuring six badass tracks:

  1. Roll For Initiative
  2. Your Beauty Effulgent
  3. Give It Up For Mr. Randy Watson
  4. Watch Out For ROUS’s
  5. Fuck You and Your Mint Condition Black Lotus
  6. Always Give’em The Wrong Advices

My imaginary narrative allowed for some success, especially at the local level. This led to our first full-length album, an LP called It’s Dangerous to go Alone, Take This.

The complete track list:

  1. Xanatos Wins Again
  2. Everything I Need to Know to be Successful in Life I Learned from Scary German Guy
  3. The Truffle Shuffle//Key to My Heart
  4. Party at Sabin’s Cabin
  5. Mike Dexter’s a God, Mike Dexter’s a Role Model
  6. Butt-crazy In Love
  7. You’d Never Talk to Jake Ryan Like This
  8. Did He Say ‘Making Fuck’?
  9. If Do Right, No Can Defense
  10. Everyone Makes Mistakes (Donna Martin Graduates)
  11. The Tragic Life of Gunnar Stahl
  12. I’m Bringing Rex His Lunch
  13. Last Ride of the Chocobo Brigade
Hidden Tracks:
  • Mike Dexter’s a…Vampire? (a reprise)
  • Party at Sabin’s Cabin (Adventure Club remix)
  • Thank You For Calling the Law Offices of Wolfram & Hart

I’ve gone back to this prompt over and over, to the extent many of these songs have lyrics. Some are just a few lines or stanza; others are complete and could be set to music today.

All of them have helped me get word on the page and overcome writer’s block.

This little exercise keeps me amused and bridges some synapses—and, above all, trick my brain into writing when it doesn’t want to.

Once the gears start turning on this stuff, sitting down and writing anything else is easier.

You may not have the same relationship with music I do, but I know you’ll enjoy this exercise. And I have a very strong feeling it’ll open the door to the next prompt, which may lead to some of your most important content yet.

Give it a shot.

Who knows? Maybe our imaginary bands could tour together.

Don’t Just Write—Write Well

Overcoming writer’s block is a challenge for anyone, but I’ve got a lot of tricks up my sleeve to write productively and effectively.

As important as it is to just get words on paper, in the end, we all want to write something that matters, something that feels like us.

The key to this is finding and understanding your voice. This is what allows you to write to what’s important to you in a way that sounds and feels like you.

Your voice is your perspective, captured in the most authentic way, written to with style and authority.

And for myself, my clients, and you, it’s the most leverageable asset on earth: the only one so completely unique to you it cannot be replicated.

Your voice is inherent and inimitable.

Master it, and you can increase influence, impact, and income.

Effective writing will enhance your business, career, overall communication skills.

I’d like to help you with that. Click here and let’s chat.

  1. For clarity, I’m of the belief that everything is content. One of the primary advantages of creating a personality-driven brand is it allows you to write and publish just about anything and have it feed into your greater brand and content narratives. That said, in this context, let’s qualify content as being related to a lesson you want to teach, or anything connected to a product or service you offer.
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About The Author
John Romaniello is an author, consultant, and coach who helps people and brands find their voice through writing. He's published hundreds of articles, dozens of courses, and one New York Times bestselling book. Might wanna check out his Instagram, he's pretty easy on the eyes.