How to Use Three Quick and Quirky Ways to Unblock

02.08.2017 |

Episode #9 of the course How to overcome writer’s block by Jurgen Wolff


In this lesson, you’ll discover three more quick ways to overcome writer’s block. They may sound weird, but they’ve all been shown to work.


Lean Away from the Problem

Did you know that your body language can help you overcome a block?

Studies show that people are better able to solve problems shown on a computer screen if they lean back. They are also better able to make a decision if they lean back.

It’s no coincidence that people sometimes are advised to step back from the problem. The physical movement seems to be connected to having psychological distance as well.

The next time you have a writing problem that’s hard to resolve, lean back and think about it again.

If that doesn’t work, imagine you’re sitting in the back row at a movie theater and you see the problem represented on a movie screen at the front.

Now what possible solutions come to mind?


Get Out into Nature

Environmental psychologist Andrea Faber Taylor has uncovered some fascinating information about how contact with nature can relieve anxiety and stress and help the healing process.

She points out that “directed attention” (used for things like making a presentation or writing) makes us tired, while “involuntary attention” (such as meditating or looking at nature with no particular end in mind) gives our directed attention a chance to recover.

She cites studies in which patients who could see trees from their hospital beds after having surgery needed fewer painkillers and had shorter hospital stays than those who looked out at walls.

She did her own study of children living in public housing, comparing those whose apartment overlooked trees and grass with those whose view was pavement. The “seeing-nature” kids were better able to concentrate and control impulsive behaviors.

This could also be a cure for writer’s block. Even if you work and live in the city, you can make time for looking at nature—it can be a park, some trees, or possibly a group of plants in your office.


Imagine Yourself Being a Child

On his blog, The Frontal Cortex, Jonah Lehrer writes about a fascinating study of creativity in which half of a large group of undergraduates were given this instruction:

“You are seven years old. School is canceled, and you have the entire day to yourself. What would you do? Where would you go? Who would you see?”

The other half were given this instruction:

“You have the entire day to yourself. What would you do? Where would you go? Who would you see?”

Each group spent 10 minutes writing their answers. Then they were given tests of creativity.

The group that imagined themselves as kids scored higher, coming up with more ideas and ideas that were more original.

If you’re experiencing a writing block, take yourself back to when you were seven (or another young age if, for any reason, the time when you were seven is not a pleasant memory). Do the exercise for 10 minutes, and then return to your writing with a more open mind.

Over the past nine days, you’ve gained a menu of methods that will help you overcome your creative blocks. We have one more important topic to cover tomorrow: how to make your writing environment as supportive as possible.

All the best,



Recommended book

Around the Writer’s Block: Using Brain Science to Solve Writer’s Resistance by Rosanne Bane


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