How to overcome writer's block while writing your life story

Writer’s Block: 4 Tips to Overcome It and Write Your Life Story

How to overcome writer's block while writing your life story

4 Tips for Overcoming Writer’s Block

Have you ever come across a family heirloom, like an old photo album, hinting at untold stories? Your life holds similar treasures, waiting to be shared. Yet, starting can feel daunting. Get ready for a journey that’s sure to reveal moments of joy as you rediscover your extraordinary story. It happens to everyone, even when you’re writing about a topic that you know better than nearly anyone–your life story. Here are four practical tips to overcome writer’s block and reconnect with your history. We love these tips so much for a specific reason: they work.

Is it your schedule? (See tip #2) Do you need help with ideas? Feeling unorganized? All of the above? You must understand where these feelings come from to treat writer’s block. Once you diagnose the underlying problem, you can apply the right cure. 

The truth is, there’s no single cause behind writer’s block.

Some days, it might be fears of imperfection. Other times, it could be a chaotic schedule leaving you overwhelmed. There could be technical writing issues blocking the process, making it hard to formulate ideas on paper. It all depends on you and your circumstances.

Here are a few ways you can diagnose the source of your writer’s block:

Indulge in a little self-reflection

  • Ask yourself open-ended questions:
    • What emotions am I feeling right now? (anxiety, fear, overwhelm, lack of motivation?)
    • What specifically is making me hesitate to write? (perfectionism, lack of direction?)
    • When did I last feel excited about writing? What was different then?
    • Am I avoiding a specific topic or aspect of my story? Why?

Journal for 10 minutes

Write freely without judgment, exploring any thoughts or feelings that arise.

Talk to a trusted friend or writing buddy

Discussing your block can provide clarity and external perspective.

Examine environmental triggers

  • Evaluate your writing space: Is it cluttered, noisy, or uncomfortable? Consider creating a dedicated writing area that promotes focus.
  • Identify distractions: Turn off notifications, silence your phone, and block distracting websites.
  • Schedule writing time: Dedicate specific blocks of time to writing, free from other commitments.

Consider internal roadblocks

  • Challenge limiting beliefs: Identify and counter negative thoughts like “I’m not good enough” or “This story isn’t interesting.”
  • Practice self-compassion: Acknowledge that writer’s block is common and doesn’t define your abilities.
  • Set realistic goals: Start small and gradually increase your writing time and output.

Diagnosing writer’s block is a personal process, but understanding the origins of your writing frustration will help you apply targeted strategies to overcome it.

2. Establish a writing rhythm.

Have you been away from your writing desk for a while? Or maybe your writing schedule is less regular than it used to be. Whatever the reason, set a writing schedule, whether it’s day-to-day or week-to-week.

One way to overcome writer’s block is to set a realistic and achievable schedule because if you set unrealistic goals, you’ll be overwhelmed before you even start. Beating writer’s block means making writing exciting and enjoyable, so make sure your writing schedule is something you can realistically work into your life.

Here are a few tips for getting into a writing rhythm and out of a rut:

Craft your writing ritual

  • Pick your power hours: Identify the time of day when your energy and focus peak. Schedule writing sessions then, even if it’s just 15 minutes.
  • Prime your space: Declutter your writing area, create a playlist, and gather inspiring materials to cultivate a writing ambiance.
  • Habit stacking: Link writing to a daily activity you already enjoy, like grabbing coffee or taking a walk. Before (or after) that activity, sit down and commit to writing.

Make it achievable

  • Start small: Aim for consistent, shorter sessions rather than infrequent, marathon sessions. Gradually increase duration as you build momentum.
  • Chunk it out: Break down large projects into bite-sized tasks with specific goals. “Write Chapter 3, Section 1” feels less daunting than “Write chapter 3.”
  • Reward progress, not perfection: Celebrate completing sessions, not reaching perfection. A small treat or acknowledgement after writing fuels motivation.

Embrace flexibility

  • Schedule buffer zones: Plan for unexpected events by keeping some writing time flexible within your week.
  • Track your progress: Use a calendar or habit tracker to visualize your consistency and stay accountable.
  • Listen to your body: Recognize when you need a break or a change of scenery.

Like anything, consistency is key to seeing results. And following any of these suggestions helps you build resilience against future writer’s block.

3. Take a hike.

Literally. Go for a walk. Get some fresh air and step away from your writing. Leaving your workspace may seem counterintuitive, but research shows that even ten minutes of physical activity can increase mental performance.

Boosting brainpower through physical movement will help you break through writer’s block. Don’t worry if you can’t get outside or do “structured” exercise; any movement is good movement. In fact, when I’m in a writer’s rut, sometimes I’ll break out the vacuum. There’s something cathartic about pushing a heavy machine and instantly seeing results in the form of a clean floor and a canister full of dust bunnies. Just be careful not to use movement as an excuse not to write: give yourself a time limit and stick to it. 

Step away to spark creativity

  • Move your body, boost your brain: Take a 10-minute walk, do some quick yoga poses, or even dance it out! Any physical activity helps.
  • Change your scenery: Escape the writing desk. Visit a park, explore a new neighborhood, or simply sit outside for a breath of fresh air.
  • Embrace everyday movement: Get active in unexpected ways. Clean, garden, walk the dog, or cycle to errands. Every step counts!
  • Set a timer to stay focused: Avoid getting sucked into distractions. Limit your “movement break” to 10-15 minutes and set a timer.

Bonus tip: Combine movement with inspiration! Listen to an audiobook related to your writing, brainstorm ideas while walking, or use a voice recorder to capture thoughts on the move.

By incorporating these tips, you’ll transform “taking a hike” into a strategic tool to overcome writer’s block and reignite your writing spark.

Go back to stories you’ve already written and read them with a critical eye. Meaning: Pretend you’re unfamiliar with the story. Does the story make sense? Are there areas for improvement? Is the story interesting? You may also find sections that should move to other parts of your book. 

Check out these tricks for reviving and refining past creations

  • Dust off unfinished drafts: Revisit old projects with fresh eyes. Can you salvage sections or spark new ideas?
  • Become your own editor: Read aloud and pretend you’re a first-time reader. Does the flow engage? Are transitions smooth?
  • Tighten & polish: Identify repetitive phrases, wordy sentences, or areas lacking clarity. Edit for conciseness and impact.
  • Reimagine & relocate: Is a scene dragging? Could it be stronger in another chapter? Experiment with rearranging sections.
  • Seek outside eyes: Share snippets with trusted friends or writing groups for constructive feedback and fresh perspectives.

Revision isn’t just about fixing flaws; it’s about finding the hidden potential of your existing work. By applying these tips, you can transform past projects into polished prose that not only help to overcome writer’s block, but contribute to your life story.

Bonus tip: Use Prompts to beat writer’s block!

Our prompts are designed to get you on the path to writing success having to worry about writer’s block. And with 100s of prompts, there’s bound to be one that sparks your writing flame. (Available to members only.)

Here’s a sample of life story writing prompts created by professional ghostwriters:

  • Have you ever witnessed an act of heroism? Where were you? What did you see? What was the result of this act?
  • How do you approach obstacles? These can be physical obstacles or emotional ones. Describe a situation where you faced an obstacle and figured out how to overcome it.
  • What is a surprising fact about you that most people don’t know? Share a story that illustrates this hidden side or fact about you.

Remember that dusty photo album hidden in the attic? Your life story holds similar magic, waiting to be shared. Imagine holding your completed book, a treasure brimming with memories and wisdom. This journey starts with you, and we’re here to guide you every step of the way.

Don’t let writer’s block or overwhelm hold you back. Get your free 7-day trial of DIYBook. Discover a writing haven free from distractions, unleash your creativity with expert prompts, and explore tools to format, design, and even publish your masterpiece.

This is your chance to embark on a transformative journey of self-discovery and leave a legacy for generations to come. Unlock your storytelling power. Sign up for a DIYBook Membership to get  your free trial today!

Still have questions about writer’s block and how to overcome it? Dive into our FAQs for answers!

While many with ADHD experience challenges with focus and writing, writer’s block itself isn’t exclusive to ADHD. People without ADHD can experience it too, for various reasons. Focusing on strategies to overcome writer’s block regardless of any underlying conditions can be helpful.

Absolutely! Anxiety can manifest as fear of judgment, perfectionism, or general overwhelm, all of which can contribute to writer’s block. Identifying and managing your anxiety is crucial in overcoming writer’s block.

It varies. It can be brief (hours or days) or persist for longer periods. The key is to recognize the block, try different strategies, and be patient with yourself.

Not necessarily. Burnout often stems from broader exhaustion and dissatisfaction, impacting motivation across various aspects of life. Writer’s block can exist on its own due to specific writing-related challenges. However, prolonged block could be a sign of burnout, so paying attention to overall well-being is important.

Author Barabara Basbanes Richter, Founder of DIYBook
About the Author

Barbara Basbanes Richter founded DIYBook, an affordable and easy-to-use book writing program. She also founded In Ink Ghostwriting, a full-service ghostwriting firm helping politicians, pundits, scientists, CEOs, professional athletes, and others get their stories into print.

Under her own byline, Barbara’s writing has appeared in The Wall Street Journal, The New York Daily News, The Vineyard Gazette, Humanities, The Sewanee Review, Fine Books & Collections, Literary Features Syndicate, High Country News, Ravishly.com, Westchester Magazine, and other outlets.

Barbara is a fluent French speaker, and her translation from French to English of Mademoiselle de Malepeire was called a “clever, inspiring gem.”

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