When Your Blog Goes Quiet or: How to Get Over Writer’s Block

by Brenna Holeman

Writer's Block

On the train to Kent, England

I have had an extremely busy summer. Today, at Broadway Market, the wind blew and the three of us shivered.

“The seasons are changing… it’s going to be autumn soon,” Richard commented.

“Summer just started!” I protested. But no. In two weeks it will be September, and summer will be coming to a close. I have been so busy this summer that the past few months have gone by in a blink of an eye.

There were definitely fun times: my first real press trip, to Italy, was incredible, and I had time in both France and Spain. I moved flats, which involved buying and setting up all my furniture and packing and unpacking all of my belongings. I also successfully ran a major project with my company and completed a lot of freelance jobs. I wrapped up my first year of school, kept up a healthy dating life, and saw friends as much as I possibly could. Not too bad. The one area I feel that I failed in, however, is my personal creativity. This blog has gone quiet.

I go through phases of blogging, just as I think that all people in creative fields do, whether their craft is painting or writing or singing or dancing. We all go through phases in life where we feel successful, where our output is high and our accomplishments prolific. This summer, for me, was definitely not one of these times. In fact, thinking about blogging often made me feel sad – sad because I love it so much and I wasn’t doing it, but also because I just couldn’t think of a damn thing to write.

I’ve struggled with writer’s block before, but never this badly. I simply could not motivate myself to write anything; even status updates on my Facebook page or a tweet of 140 characters seemed strenuous some days. Friends, family, and even some readers asked if everything was okay. Although I’ve never been one to care about statistics, I couldn’t help but notice them plateau. I felt guilty for not blogging – not because I think so highly of this blog that I felt that I was disappointing people, but because I was disappointing myself.

“Yes,” I’d respond to those who asked if I was all right. “I’m just going through  bit of writer’s block.”

So, what do you do when your blog goes quiet, or how do you get over writer’s block? Here’s what I plan to do.

1. Recognise the problem. I blamed my writer’s block on so many other factors at first… I was too busy with school, I was too busy with work, I was too busy with life. The fact of the matter is, however, that if I truly loved to write (which I do), I would make time for it. I want to write. I can’t make excuses for not writing anymore.

2. Get away from the computer / out of the house. With my project at work finally wrapping up, at least this section of it, I had a night to myself on Wednesday. I thought, “Tonight is the night that I will write for hours!” I then proceeded to stare at the screen for half an hour before resorting to browsing Imgur. I could have moved on to Netflix and then the night would have been over; instead I got up, closed the laptop, and went for a walk. It totally cleared my head, and on the way home I even stopped in my local for a pint, where I instantly started scribbling down ideas in my notebook.

3. Turn off the wifi. For a blogger, and for most people in general, this is really difficult. I admit that I am easily distracted, though, so I need some time every day to get offline. Otherwise, I check my email, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and a host of other favourite websites every hour or so (and sometimes, sadly, even more). To truly be productive, I need to get away from the Internet.

4. Write as soon as you wake up. I am not a morning person, but an author once told me to do this and I have to say it works really well. If you can, as soon as you wake up, start writing. Do not even go online before doing so. Just open your laptop and start typing.

5. Keep a notebook. That notebook I said I was scribbling in? I always have it on me. It is filled with the most nonsensical things, but when I’m feeling lost as to what to write about, I can go back and look through the notebooks and hopefully get a few ideas. When I moved to London I brought every journal I’ve kept since 2006, and I’ve been looking through them this past week – they triggered a lot of memories and a lot of stories that can be told.

6. Be active. I am not active, so I cannot attest to this one, but I have read it countless times and it must be true. I am joining a gym here in London when I return from a visit to Canada because, yes, I’d love to be physically healthier, but I’m also banking on it making me creatively / mentally healthier as well.

7. Read. In all the busyness this summer, I hadn’t read nearly as much as I usually do. I finally picked up a book this week – Youth by J.M. Coetzee – and it felt so good to read I nearly cried. It also inspired me to pick up the proverbial pen and start writing again.

8. Do other creative things. Last year I got really into scrapbooking and playing the ukulele (guys, I’m cool, I swear). I hadn’t done either of those things this summer and so last week started both again. Sure enough, after playing a few songs on the ukulele I started feeling a bit more motivated to do other creative things, like write.

9. Clean your room / flat / house. I cannot work if I am in a cluttered, messy space. I spent a few hours cleaning my flat yesterday and finished up a lot of the last bits of organising I needed to do after moving in.

10. Try writing exercises. There are hundreds of these to be found online… they might seem a bit rudimentary at first, but I think they can be really useful in at least starting to write. My favourite to do is to pick up a dictionary, open a page at random, and pick a word at random. I then have to try to use that word in a paragraph. It is oddly effective.

As I said, I am still struggling with writer’s block and I know that it will be a challenge to overcome it. I’m in a rut, but I will try my best to do these ten things. At the end of the day, however, there is only one thing I keep telling myself, and that is: there is nothing, nothing, better than the feeling I get when I’m proud of something I’ve written. I fucking love to write, and I love this blog. There will always be times when I can’t think of anything to say, or when other things in my life will have to take a bit more priority. The only way I’ll ever get over writer’s block is to just start typing, start writing, and see what happens.

Have you ever struggled with writer’s block, or a block on your creativity? If you’re a blogger, has your blog ever gone quiet for a while and you’ve struggled to post again?

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Alyssa August 16, 2014 - 4:23 pm

Glad to see you back! My blog often goes quiet. Spending 8 hours a day writing crap I don’t believe in and that doesn’t interest me is never helpful, but I’ve really learned not to force anything. I’d rather not fill my blog with crap because I think I have to and it’s working out nicely!

Brenna Holeman August 16, 2014 - 6:49 pm

That’s the attitude I was taking… I could have posted things I wasn’t as proud of, but I’d rather post nothing than that. I’ve been on this blog for over four years; it will take more than a spell of writer’s block for me to leave it behind forever!

Melissa August 16, 2014 - 9:56 pm

Brenna, your blog is probably my favorite travel blog on the Internet, and I love reading about travel. 🙂

Your list of suggestions sound like awesome ways to stimulate creativity! However, having read you for a couple years I honestly don’t think you should feel like you are failing in any way, or letting your readers or even yourself down.

I definitely understand wanting this creative outlet, wanting to continue it and for it to be good and satisfying. But doing your job while enrolled in a Master’s program must already require a lot of mental exertion and energy…and creativity! You are probably producing so much creatively right now, just in venues different than this blog, and perhaps that’s okay. The human brain can only absorb so many experiences and transform them into so much productivity. I think it’s easy (for Westerners like us especially) and also creative types in general to expect almost too much from themselves sometimes, and to believe that any season with lower productivity is inherently a negative thing. I personally believe that there may be seasons in a creative’s life where they need to rest and recharge mentally, or focus on a few specific things.

It’s amazing how you’ve been able to take this blog and use it as a portfolio that has led to what looks like a wonderful job in the travel industry and a wonderful educational program. You should be so proud of the path you’ve paved for yourself! I hope you never disappear from blogging, and that one day you’ll be able to be as prolific on here as you desire to be, but I also think it’s an accomplishment to take your interests and creativity in new directions and allow them to develop and change as you do. Take care!

Brenna Holeman August 17, 2014 - 7:05 pm

Hi Melissa, thank you SO much for your comment, and for being such a loyal reader. I read this last night and it made me tear up a bit, because I think that I do (much as we all do) put too much pressure on myself sometimes. I guess it’s because I love blogging and the blogging community so much, and miss it when I’m too busy with other things. You’re right – I have been very creative in other ways this summer, just not necessarily here!

Thanks again, I really do appreciate what you said and I will be sure to revisit this comment whenever I’m feeling a little bit down about my blogging output.

Kim August 16, 2014 - 10:45 pm

This happens to me so often… but I think it is good and fair to take some time off when we need to! These are all great tips but my favorite is to write early in the morning. I find I write best then before everything else rushes in to take over the day.

Brenna Holeman August 17, 2014 - 1:05 pm

Yes, I really need to start doing that more! I do love working late at night but there’s something about a clear mind in the morning that helps a lot.

Hayley Griffiths August 17, 2014 - 12:21 am

Brenna this is the beauty of being a creative mind! It’s not about churning out crap content 24/7, it’s about feeling inspired to create something new and exciting! I love reading your blog and in my opinion you could be writing about shower curtains, it would still be one of the most inspiring blogs out there.

Don’t beat yourself up, you’re awesome x

Brenna Holeman August 17, 2014 - 6:59 pm

Aw, thank you so much, Hayley. I totally agree with you – I’d rather not churn out crap just to make sure that there’s something new every other day!

Thanks for your uplifting comment, it really means a lot to me. x

Monica August 17, 2014 - 11:04 am

No.3 – turn off the wifi! Yes!
I always think I’ll get way more done when connected to wifi but I never do. I’m distracted by Twitter and Facebook and emails and cat videos and pretty much everything and anything.

And I think it’s better to wait until you’ve got something good to say then to churn out crap for the sake of it. I’m sure it’ll be worth the wait.

Brenna Holeman August 17, 2014 - 6:59 pm

Now, if only I can actually turn off the damn wifi… too many cat videos!

Thanks for your comment, Monica!

Helen August 17, 2014 - 11:41 am

I completely agree with what everyone has said above. You are doing a great job, and it’s hard to do so much stuff. Your energies have just been focused elsewhere for a little while, but that’s temporary.

I struggle with this a lot, because sometimes my job, friends and family just have to come first. My favourite thing to do when I feel like this is go for a long walk, and write in my head as I go. Then when I get back to my computer I’ve usually got something.

Sounds like you’re doing all the right things to get through it!

Like Hayley says, don’t beat yourself up! We love your blog whether you write once a month, or once a week, or whatever! 🙂 x

Brenna Holeman August 17, 2014 - 7:02 pm

Thank you so much, Helen. You are such an inspiration to me as you are also so busy and still manage to post so many great articles! I definitely need to go for some longer walks around my neighbourhood… and maybe head up to Liverpool for a visit, too? x

Rick August 17, 2014 - 12:26 pm

Nice post Brenna!
I already do some of those, I will start doing the other half of the list (except 9 maybe).
Regarding to sports I have a similar point of view but I have to say that i find outdoor activities are very good for creativity. I especially love cycling and when I pause in a pub or get back home I can fill up pages. It really frees up my mind of all those work- and internet-induced noise clogging my brain. Maybe you can try walking, climbing or perhaps swimming in the canal.

No, the last one was a joke, don’t do it!

Brenna Holeman August 17, 2014 - 7:01 pm

Wait, I SHOULDN’T go swimming in the canal?! Too late…

I’m off to Canada for a few weeks but when I return, I really want to start being more active in London. I’m joining a gym, yes, but I need to start walking more again and maybe even running! It also really frees up my mind…

Thanks for your comment. 🙂

Rick August 18, 2014 - 8:51 am

Come visit us in Sheffield any time when you’re back from Canada. The Peak District is a stone throw away and is a good stress-reliever 🙂
(and beer here is way cheaper than in London)

Brenna Holeman August 18, 2014 - 1:33 pm

I will definitely take you up on that! Thank you!!

Laura August 18, 2014 - 4:09 am

Great tips Brenna. I’m glad you’re back! I can definitely relate to the fact that my blogging comes in waves. Life is always going to get in the way, but I am going to try your tip about writing when I wake up, even if it’s just in my notebook!

Brenna Holeman August 18, 2014 - 1:33 pm

Thanks, Laura! I didn’t really ever go away, my blog has still been active with nearly a blog post every week, but I certainly felt that I didn’t have much creativity over the summer…

Sky August 19, 2014 - 12:16 pm

This has been me all summer. I would even go to the bookstore/cafe to write, sit down, and then decide I had nothing to write about. It’s a frustrating thing.

With my trip coming up, though, I’ve decided there are no more excuses. I have things to write about. I just need to write them.

Hoping your writer’s block is “cured” soon!

Brenna Holeman August 19, 2014 - 2:59 pm

Thank you, Sky! I hope yours is cured soon, too!

Shikha (whywasteannualleave) August 21, 2014 - 4:34 pm

It’s so reassuring to hear that even hugely successful bloggers like yourself also go through phases of having writers’ block – I find that I either feel it and then I can just write for hours and hours, post after post or I don’t. And I can totally relate to that feeling of telling myself I’m going to do a blog post and then just staring at the screen for half an hour with no words on the page or when they come, they’re just so badly written that I feel I’ve let myself down! Like a few others have said, I also find that being online sometimes makes it harder rather than easier because I spent too much time on social media to distract from the fact that I’m not actually writing!

Brenna Holeman August 22, 2014 - 5:07 pm

Thank you, Shikha! I agree – sometimes I get into such a good zone and want to write a lot, and other times I just, well, can’t write anything. I definitely need to try going offline more!

Kunal August 27, 2014 - 1:59 am

I was looking for some references when I came across your blog and I loved it. I’m going to read all your posts first thing tomorrow but I’ve read this one and of course, that happens a lot (I’m not a very good writer, but still I love writing). I’ve been blogging for last year and a half and there are periods when I can’t think of anything to write or sometimes even when I know what I’m writing but couldn’t complete what I’ve started to write. Turning off wifi could do a lot of good if only I can keep it off for a while 🙂 and writing in the morning always works for me. Thanks for all your tips, they are greatly helpful.

Brenna Holeman August 27, 2014 - 2:49 am

Aw, thank you very much, Kunal! Good luck with your blog and here’s hoping we both get through our moments of writer’s block as gracefully as possible. 🙂

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Sarah March 28, 2018 - 9:09 am

I was reading your latest post ‘Things I Love’ and somehow found my way to this one. I like to think it’s serendipitous.
I’ve never experienced such a long period of writer’s block before now. I completely get you when you said even posting Facebook updates is hard – I used to have to cut stuff out of my social media posts, but lately I’ve been sticking to one-liners. Writing a 1000-word blog post seems the toughest ask imaginable these days.
It is awfully frustrating and I know it’s up to me to find my way out of it, but blog posts like these really help – it’s always nice to know you’re not alone 🙂

Brenna Holeman March 28, 2018 - 5:50 pm

I go through it ALL THE TIME. Even though I write every single day for work, when it comes to my own blog, sometimes I can’t even write a sentence. It’s the worst, yes, but you are definitely not alone! 🙂


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