Skip to content

The cure for writer’s block isn’t willpower

woman frustrated that willpower isn't helping her writer's block

Sometimes I try to willpower my way through a blank page. But it doesn’t work for long, because the cure for writer’s block isn’t willpower.

Seriously, I could use my willpower to sit there all day long…

Narrator: He sat there for fifteen minutes.

…but somehow still, nothing came out.

Because the cure for writer’s block isn’t willpower

Willpower might keep me sitting there for a few minutes, but boy is it frustrating not to write.

So, I stand up, and I get plenty of other things done. Laundry. Vacuuming. Dusting. I even cleaned the junk drawer once and finally hung that inspiring picture in my office.

But no writing happened.

And then the other day my power went out, so no internet.

With nothing else to do, I just wrote.

And boy did I. I finished one chapter that had been nagging me for weeks, and wrote over 2,000 words in a new one.

I kinda wished the power would go out every day.

It reminded me of when I was a kid and I was fat.

Back then, I often daydreamed about living in the mountains where I’d have nothing to eat but ‘real food.’

I’d have to hunt or grow food, chop wood, walk everywhere, and never need willpower again.

Because willpower sucks.

When I saw the movie Castaway back in 2000, I remember thinking “I want to be stuck on that island.”

Yes, I wanted to be stuck in a place where I wouldn’t need willpower.

Because willpower doesn’t last, and while you’re using it, it robs you of energy you could use for other things.

As an author, you might have dreamed of something similar, only writing-related.

off-grid writing cabin

Stuck off-grid, in a cabin in the woods.

In a hotel in a boring city.

Or in an Airbnb someplace you don’t know anyone.

But those aren’t realistic, long-term, so you just pile on the willpower and try to write.

And then one day your power goes out.

And wow, you write three times your normal amount because you were suddenly ‘off-grid.’

No willpower required.

Because the cure for writer’s block isn’t willpower

I don’t know if you’re aware, but by day I’m a health coach and fitness author.

As a health coach, I often remind my clients that relying on willpower alone won’t work for long.

It’s also been 20 years since I was fat.

I’m happy to say I no longer need willpower to stay fit and healthy. I got to the root of the problems and addressed them, because I learned that my own willpower never lasted long.

It willpower won’t last for you and your writing, either.

If find yourself getting up from your desk to wash dishes, vacuum, or find yourself never sitting down to write in the first place, then no amount of willpower is going to help.

The cure for writer’s block isn’t willpower when something else is going on.

an anxious author can't write

It could be a lot of things, but anxiety, pain, work stress, money, or even simpler things like clutter or a noisy house could be keeping you from writing.

Something is driving you to do things that are NOT writing.

Honestly, if it was just not knowing what words to type next, you’d be able to sit there and stare at your screen until you did know.

So, it’s something else.

Whatever it is that drives us to do the things that stand between us and our writing must be either managed, controlled, or addressed.

How? Through habits, systems, nervous system regulation, therapy, medicine, etc.

Or you could strand yourself on an island like Tom Hanks in Castaway.

Just bring solar panels for your laptop or a lot of paper and pens.

The cure for writer's block isn't willpower
Photo by Steve Johnson on Unsplash

I’m not saying the solutions will be easy, but you can start by putting yourself in a position that lessens the need for willpower so you can test things out.

Here’s one way to find out if willpower is enough.

Pick a time you can write, uninterrupted for 30 minutes, every day.

Put it in your calendar.

When it’s time, turn off your wifi, set a timer, and sit there.

You can write or stare out the window, but that’s it.

For thirty minutes.

Repeat this tomorrow, the next day, and so on.

If it’s working for you, keep going. If not, adjust and try again.

It doesn’t take much willpower to do something for 30 minutes, so if you’re getting writing done during your experiment, then this might be enough.

Add another 30, then another, and another.

Soon enough, you won’t need your willpower anymore.

But, if you’re still not able to write ( or sit there and think about your writing), for just thirty minutes, then you need to look deeper.

Writers write, by definition.

If you want to be a writer, but you can’t write, then you have to figure out what is standing between you and your writing.

I’m here to help, so send me an email or book a free discovery call with me, and let’s get you writing again.

Talk soon,


Roland Denzel

Roland has been helping authors just like himself be more productive and write more books, all while staying healthy, happy, and sane since 2015.

Read his story right here, and if you want to send him a message, visit Roland's contact page here.

Share with your author friends