Trying to Conquer Writer's Block when You're on a Deadline? Learn from Emergency Doctors.


You've created what seems like a perfect writing environment: tidy desk in a quiet room, there's noone in the apartment and all your appliances are off. You've cleared your writing world from distractions. It's now just you, your laptop and plenty of opportunities to write. It appears that you have it all to get inspired and yet you're staring at the screen and just can't get into the flow of writing.

What seems like pristine writing conditions may not be the creative environment where you thrive. To increase the chances of you being efficient, you have to discover when your individual writer's productivity peak happens. To determine that, stop forcing yourself to write at the same time and in the same settings. If your most productive writing hours are not the morning ones, don't give in to social pressure and force yourself to be an early riser. Try to arrange your schedule so that you can write later instead. Don't try to mimic the routines of others but do create your own schedule based on when you're most efficient. The same applies to writing environments - you may be inspired by busy streets in a city so when you run errands, have your laptop ready and try writing at a cafe. Being surrounded by other people who work may be motivating. You may want to look out the window and see city traffic instead of trees and the quiet environment you're used to at home.

Most writers start working only when they have a large block of free time, which slows down the process. Adapting to circumstances and taking every opportunity to write will make us advance and finish the project faster. Take advantage of the time you have when you wait in line or start writing in the car after you park at the supermarket. These mini blocks of twenty to thirty minutes of writing will add up, will make you continue your project and stay in the flow. Your writing adjustment to different times and environments can be compared to the sleep adjustments made by emergency doctors who, because of different times of their shifts, grab every opportunity to take a nap no matter how short and where.

Many writers think that best ideas will come to them when they readily sit at their desks. Ferris Jabr in The New Yorker article Why Walking Helps us Think mentions that since the time of Greek philosophers, many writers have discovered a deep connection between walking, thinking and writing. Next time when you go hiking or biking, bring your notebook with you and when you get inspired, do get off your bike and start writing. Write on your phone, in your notebook or however you can. Inspiration to write is fragile, treat it with care and don't waste it when it strikes you. You can start with trying to write outside or standing instead of sitting. Try embracing your inner Thoreau who said "How vain it is to sit down to write when you have not stood up to live."

Anna Sabino is a co-active certified business growth and life coach. She is writing a book on growing your creative business mindfully. You can find out more at