August 01, 2015

How Do You Overcome Writer’s Block? – Sandi Somers

Every great work has its impossible moments—or days. Ideas just won’t come. You try and try to force the work, but your mind goes blank. Your creative well has just gone dry.

You’ve hit that dreaded thing: writer’s block.

Prompt: Why do blocks happen for you? How do you overcome these blocks? How do you keep yourself motivated and inspired?  What do you use to propel your writing forward?  How does God encourage you?

Creative Grace for In-Between Places

For the last number of months I’ve had health issues that have left me with little energy to write. Even some of my InScribe blogs—this one in particular—have been difficult to write.

So this summer I’ve set aside much of my normal writing time. Instead, I’ve gone out for coffee with friends, phoned or emailed family members in different parts of Canada.  Friends and I have taken day trips to the mountains or to scenic spots in Alberta. And long walks are building my stamina.

Long rests in the afternoons give me time to read, pray and reflect. I’ve journalled questions and insights, and sometimes I’ve taken out my “work notebook” to record and initial drafts for articles.

Rather than calling this time a “block”, I consider it creative grace in the in-between place. God has been drawing me aside to be renewed spiritually, physically and mentally.

But I also know that I’m in a transition. This extended period is giving me a much-needed perspective. “Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves…” Rainer Maria Rilke wrote.

As I wait for God in this in-between place, God waits for me. He is giving me His creative grace as I work through questions on life and writing.

My creative well is being filled with new ideas and new approaches. Louise DeSalvo’s, The Art of Slow Writing, has been particularly helpful, as she talks about more thoughtful ways of engaging with works-in-progress.

DeSalvo advocated we go more slowly and become self-reflective writers. “‘…slow writing’ doesn’t just take time, but makes time. Slow writing is a meditative act; slowing down to understand our relationship to our writing, slowing down to determine our authentic subjects, slowing down to write complex works, slowing down to study our literary antecedents.”

So as I lean into this time of rest and re-strengthening, I meet each day with thankful expectation. I wait in quiet trust and faith as God gradually opens up my way to write more productivity. 

* * *
Don’t be afraid to put down your work during a block; it’s part of the writing process. Some authors even call blocks “friends”, because blocks are voices calling out to you that something is out of balance.

Discern what the blocks are trying to tell you. Listen to the signals, the inner nudges. Invite the Holy Spirit to give you wisdom—creative graces—for those in-between places. This pleases God.

Janice Elsheimer in The Creative Call, sums up my thoughts beautifully: “When we call first upon the Holy Spirit in those dry times and then…wait in… ‘confident expectation’, God will be faithful in His own time—and what he has for us will be worth the wait.”

* * *

Now it’s your turn to flesh out this discussion. Tell us your story.

To kick start your efforts, you may want to read what great writers have said on overcoming blocks. 


  1. Being in an in-between place feels much less worrisome when compared to being 'blocked'. Reframing these times in such a gentle way leaves me with hope! Thanks, Sandi.

  2. Thanks Bobbi. I also thought that "creative grace" adds a divine touch, too. God is with us whether we pound out lots of words or whether we string only a few sentences together.

  3. to everything there is a season...

  4. Thanks, Tracy. You summarized it well!

  5. My family is going through a major struggle right now and the only words I have energy to write here are, "Thank-you."

  6. Hi Connie, Sometimes "Thank-you" says it all. I'm praying for you in your struggle.

  7. Hi Connie, Sometimes "Thank-you" says it all. I'm praying for you in your struggle.

  8. Creative Grace in the in-between place is brilliant. Thanks for this lovely post, Sandi.

  9. Creative Grace in the in-between place is brilliant. Thanks for this lovely post, Sandi.

  10. Thanks, Glynis. These words really reframed "writer's block" for me.

  11. Sandi, I love that idea about slow writing. Slow anything, for that matter! You've given us a good reminder of how valuable writer's "block" is--thanks!

  12. I am sorry to hear you aren't feeling well, Sandi. During the past year and a half, approximately, I have been in a slump, but after reading your blog I will try to " . . . consider it creative grace in the in-between places." I pray that God will grant all of us InScribers who are in these in-between places, creative grace and healing of mind, body, and spirit. Thanks and blessings to you, Sandi.


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