Posted On August 25, 2017 by Print This Post

Unclogging the Drain of Progress – by Loucinda McGary

Happy Friday! Loucinda McGary returns with advice on different ways to conquer writer’s block.

Writer’s Block – UGH! If there is anything worse, at the moment I don’t know what it is.

When I think of writer’s block, I see the image of a clogged bathroom drain. You know the one I mean, the one that leaves you standing in four inches of water halfway through your morning shower. The one you have to fish for with a piece of wire coat hanger and it comes out in a disgusting clump of hair, soap scrum, and heaven only knows what else. EWWW!

No wonder writer’s block leaves me shrieking with despair. And now you probably are too, but never fear! I’m going to suggest a few techniques that I’m hopeful will prove equally as effective as that piece of wire.

  • Keep showing up! – We humans are creatures of habit. We thrive on doing the same things over and over again. We find comfort in routine. So train yourself to write at the same time in the same place and after awhile, your writing becomes automatic. You don’t even have to think about it, just show up. BICHOK (Butt in chair, hands on keyboard) really does work.
  • Write anything. – Set a timer, sit down, and write everything that comes into your mind. It doesn’t have to make sense. It doesn’t have to be related to your work-in-progress. It doesn’t even have to be complete sentences. The point is simply to write some words and thereby thwart your block.

In her books about writing (Writing Down the Bones, and The Wild Mind), Natalie Goldberg calls this a ‘free write’ and she recommends writing with a pen and paper and doing it for ten minutes at a time. Many writers I know do ‘writing sprints’ where they write for thirty minutes or more and keep a record of how many words they wrote. Often, one or more writers compete in a sprint.

  • Set goals and reward yourself. – We humans also respond well to rewards, especially when we have to earn them. Setting goals is a great way to motivate yourself, but be sure they are goals you can achieve. Long term goals (like completing three novels this year) are great, but if they take too long to achieve, your motivation can falter. Circumvent that nasty clog by setting a series of short term goals (monthly or even weekly). Use whatever form of measurement works best for you (number of words, pages, or hours), and make your reward concrete (chocolate, coffee, new shoes).
  • Find a writing buddy. – Confession is not only good for your soul, but it can also chip away at writer’s block. Share your goals (short and long term) with another writer (or two or more) and ask him/her to hold you accountable for achieving them. Establish a method of reporting (email works great) on a regular basis, and then do it. Disappointing your writing buddy usually becomes a stronger urge than that nasty clog impeding your progress.

Writer’s block can be a stubborn hindrance, so don’t be afraid to go after it in one or more of these ways. Sometimes it takes a combination of techniques and repeated attempts, but once you make a few dents in that clog, pretty soon the whole mess will wash right down the drain and your writing process will flow smoothly again.

What’s your cure for writer’s block?


Bio: A Golden Heart finalist, Loucinda McGary is the author of three contemporary romantic suspense novels, The Wild Sight, The Treasures of Venice and The Wild Irish Sea. Her later books, The Sidhe Prince, High Seas Deception, His Reluctant Bodyguard, Dead Girl in a Green Dress, and The Mozart Murders are available on Amazon, Smashwords and Barnes and Noble.

Visit Loucinda’s website or connect with Loucinda via Facebook and Twitter.

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4 Responses to “Unclogging the Drain of Progress – by Loucinda McGary”

  1. Hi AC,

    I’m pretty sure most writers deal with this issue. Once I get a paragraph down, I’m usually good to go. But sometimes, it’s wise to step away from the MS for a few days and write something else. Writing letters by hand helps me because it allows me think about other things going on in my life and it gives me an excuse to buy more stationery.

    Posted by Jennifer Tanner | August 25, 2017, 11:48 am
    • Hi Jen!
      Thanks so much for having me back at RU!

      Stepping away does often help, IF you have the luxury of taking a little break. If you don’t (like you have a deadline), then your suggestion of writing something completely different for an hour or two is excellent!

      As for the stationery… we all have our little vices. 😉


      Posted by Loucinda McGary | August 25, 2017, 12:47 pm
  2. I’m still trying to find a cure for writers block. I encounter big problems during the last chapters. My characters hate ending a novel. If they had their way, they’d go on and on. What helped me unclog the drain was writing the synopsis when I was nearing the end. For some reason writing the outcome was motivating for typing those wonderful words: the end.

    Posted by Mercy | August 25, 2017, 4:59 pm
    • Thanks for stopping by, Mercy, and good for you! Getting our characters to cooperate can be a very big challenge. Though I must admit, the very idea of writing a synopsis sends me running for the chocolate stash! Glad it worked for you.


      Posted by Loucinda McGary | August 25, 2017, 6:58 pm

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