Overcoming writers block is simple.

But it’s not easy.

Because overcoming writers block isn’t just about writing. It’s an entire mindset where the focus is on the word “can’t.” Eliminating “can’t” from “I can’t write” is the simple, but not easy, way to overcome writers block.

Let’s talk about where this mindset comes from and how to get it out of your thoughts.

How the “Can’t” Mindset Starts

“I can’t write today.”

Why not?


sign telling you to stop and overcome writers block
Photo by Joshua Hoehne on Unsplash

That’s it.

That’s why you have writer’s block.

“I can’t right.”

No, you can’t.


Doesn’t matter.


Because you just told yourself you can’t write.

“But I have a legitimate reason.”

Perhaps you do, and the occasional, “I can’t write today because I really need to go grocery shopping so I have something to eat for dinner tonight” is valid. But the “but I have to” slope is a slippery one, and once we start to fall, we pick up an enormous amount of speed.

the slippery slope of the "can't" mindset
Photo by Tadeusz Lakota on Unsplash

“But I can’t because I’m busy.”

So carve out five minutes, even if it’s right before you fall asleep.

“Can’t because I hurt my hand.”

Dictation software doesn’t require typing.

“Can’t because I feel my writing isn’t good enough.”

We all feel that way. It’s normal, and the best thing we can do is write anyway.

“But, Mary, you don’t understand!”

Yes, I do. Because I’ve been there. I didn’t write anything for over two years because I told myself I couldn’t. I made every excuse in the book, but in the end, the only person who put that limitation on myself was me.

Overcoming Writers Block is About Telling Ourselves We Can

It’s easy to think we can’t do something.

Finding legitimate-sounding excuses makes us feel justified in not writing. So we don’t, and nothing gets written. We start to feel useless, worthless, and unworthy of being published.

And as someone who’s done all this to herself, I’m telling you right now.

sign telling you to stop and overcome writers block
Photo by Joshua Hoehne on Unsplash

Because the more you do it, the easier it gets, and the easier it gets, the less you’ll find yourself writing.

Down the slope you go. Past writing and on to bigger things.

“Can’t” doesn’t stop at writer’s block. “Can’t” weighs you down, stops you from trying, doing, accomplishing. “Can’t” stagnates.

  • “I can’t write today.”
  • “I can’t leave the house today.”
  • “I can’t get out of bed today.”

“Can’t” makes us afraid. “Can’t” grows fear into something that controls us, that tells us when to work, when to play, when to live. And if we give “can’t” enough power, we have none left.

Ready to Overcome Writers Block?

Drop the “’t”

“Mary, it’s not that simple.”

Ah, remember what I said earlier. It is simple—the English language tells me so. Dropping the “’t” off of “can’t” gives you “can,” the opposite of “can’t.”

It’s simple. It’s not easy.

The actual dropping of the “’t” is simple. Living up to that dropped “’t” is difficult. It’s not only a matter of thinking “can.” It’s a matter of believing it.

  • “I can write today.”
  • “I can leave the house today.”
  • “I can get out of bed today.”

Writers Block is a Mindset

Going from “can’t” to “can” is a matter of changing how we think. Drop the “’t” and see yourself change.

Too much too quickly? If you’re the kind of person who can switch cold turkey, more power to you. If you aren’t, start smaller and work up to this.

  • “I can picture the scene I want to write today.”
  • “I can open my front door today.”
  • “I can put one foot on the floor today.”

Need help with overcoming writers block and going from “can’t” to “can?” Enlist friends or family. Seek professional help if it’s appropriate. But always remember that the first step toward dropping the “’t”is up to you. However you do it, grab the proverbial bull by the horns. The buck stops here. No one’s going to write or live for you. If you don’t do it, it won’t get done, and the sooner you stop believing you “can’t,” the better off you’ll be.

And you’ll have lots of lovely manuscripts too.

This post is part of the Writing Tips Collection and Dark2Spark: Everything You Need for Blank Sheet to Draft Complete. Join Writelight, the writing newsletter that’s a light in the dark, for your free copy of Dark2Spark.

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