Writer's block

Writer’s block is a common nickname for the experience of feeling unable to write.

Writer’s block can happen to writers of all kinds: full-time professional writers, students and academics, people who work on their own creative projects, or anyone who has to complete written work as part of their job.

For some people, writer’s block might mean being completely unable to write. For others, it might be a decrease in the amount they write or a feeling that writing is much harder than it used to be.

Writer’s block is not a diagnosable mental health condition, but it can still be connected to symptoms of common conditions such as anxiety. If you’re struggling with writer’s block, working with a therapist can be a helpful way to deal with these symptoms and get your work back on track.

How common is writer’s block?

Because there is no one definition of what writer’s block is, it’s impossible to know exactly how common it is.

That said, it’s generally acknowledged among writers to be quite a common condition. After all, almost everyone struggles with their work at some point! Even very famous authors--such as F. Scott Fitzgerald, author of The Great Gatsby--sometimes experience severe writer’s block.

Writer’s block affects everyone differently, but it might cause you to experience some of the following common symptoms:

What are some different kinds of writer’s block?

Writer’s block can come up in all different kinds of situations, and there’s no one thing that causes it.

That said, there are some common scenarios in which writer’s block might tend to occur:

  1. You’re working on a high-stakes project: If you’re writing an important application or working on the final draft of your dissertation, for example, it makes sense that you might have a harder time writing than usual.
  2. You’re especially busy or overwhelmed: When the demands of your personal or professional life get to be too much, writing can sometimes fall by the wayside.
  3. You’re experiencing a big life transition: Maybe you’ve recently moved to a new city, started a new job, had a new baby, or made some other big change. All of these shifts in your life can throw off your writing game.
  4. You’ve recently had a major success: For example, if you recently published a successful book, you might have a hard time figuring out how to live up to the high expectations for your next project.
  5. You’ve lost your way with a project: Maybe your main character’s not who you thought she was, or maybe you’ve found conflicting information in your academic research. Complications like these can make it hard to keep writing.
  6. You’re dealing with perfectionism or imposter syndrome: If you feel like everything you write has to be perfect, or if you’re afraid you’re not really a good writer after all, it can be tough to even get started.
  7. You have a medical or mental health condition that’s interfering with your writing: Some medical conditions can make it hard to focus, and mental health conditions such as OCD or ADHD can also get in the way of writing. Some medications might have distracting side effects as well.

What to do if you’re experiencing writer’s block

If you’re struggling with writer’s block, one or more of the following options might help you get unstuck:

Best therapy types for writer’s block

A number of different kinds of psychotherapy may be helpful for writer’s block. Depending on your particular challenges, you might want to work with a therapist who focuses on issues like anxiety, self-esteem, and emotional expression.

Try exploring the following varieties of psychotherapy and see which you think might be good fits for your specific situation:

What should I look for in a therapist for writer’s block?

You’ll want to make sure that your therapist is qualified to treat any specific mental health problems you may be experiencing. Additionally, they should have experience working with others who have experienced writer’s block.

This will usually involve:

Finally, as with any therapy, it’s important to make sure that your therapist is a good fit for your unique needs. Be sure to evaluate the following in your initial calls with therapists: