Monday, December 26, 2022

50 Writers on Writer's Block


50 quotes about writer's block by writers

Writer's block is when the reader in you isn’t loving the writer. – John Mayer


Nothing's a better cure for writer's block than to eat ice cream right out of the carton. – Don Roff


I don’t think that writer’s block exists really. I think that when you’re trying to do something prematurely, it just won’t come. Certain subjects just need time. . . . You’ve got to wait before you write about them. – Joyce Carol Oates


All writing is difficult. The most you can hope for is a day when it goes reasonably easily. Plumbers don’t get plumber’s block, and doctors don’t get doctor’s block; why should writers be the only profession that gives a special name to the difficulty of working, and then expects sympathy for it?  – Philip Pullman


There’s no such thing as writer’s block.
That was invented by people in California who couldn’t write.

Terry Pratchett



Writer’s block is an excuse to goof off, be lazy, and procrastinate. Professionals don’t tolerate so-called writer’s block. If you are well enough to sit up and take nourishment, you can write. If you can’t do this, find an easier craft — such as chess grandmaster, rocket scientist, or neurosurgeon. – Peter A. Schaible


Blocks usually stem from fear of being judged. If you imagine the world is listening, you'll never write a line. – Erica Jong

Start by asking if this is writer’s laziness as opposed to writer’s block. – James Scott Bell

A little writer's block can be a good thing. Your inner-literary critic's way of gently letting you know you're really stinking up the joint. You're off track. Lost in the weeds. Need to go back and rethink things. Sometimes it's simply a matter of temporarily writing yourself out. Yesterday's slow 'n' steady 3 hour, 600 word quota turned into a 5 hour, 2,000 word marathon. The tank's suddenly dry. Take a breather. Let your subconscious work its magic. The words will come. 
 Quentin R. Bufogle

There’s no such thing as writer’s block. What there is though, is a reluctance to write poorly. I think sometimes you just have to turn on the valve and clear the crap out of the pipes before you can get the good stuff.  – Sean Turner

Do not worry. You have always written before and you will write now. – Ernest Hemingway


Contrary to popular wisdom, being “blocked” is not about running out of things to say. Instead, it’s succumbing to the unrealistic expectation that your work must Be Great Now. It’s a decision to remain silent rather than speak and maybe stumble. It’s the determination to avoid failure, which is a great way to ensure that the humbling work of getting better will never begin. – Joe Fassler


I do not believe in it [writer’s block]. My job is to write, not to like what I’m writing. That’s why we edit, and nobody gets editor’s block. – Jason Isbell


I believe that the so-called ‘writing block’ is a product of some kind of disproportion between your standards and your performance. One should lower his standards until there is no felt threshold to go over in writing. It’s easy to write. You just shouldn’t have standards that inhibit you from writing. – William Stafford


As a writer, blocked (for me) means there is something that
went wrong in my process and it's time to backtrack
(which is often part of the process itself anyway).

Marc Cinanni



There's no such thing as writer's block for me. I consider this an indulgence. That's because writing is my job. It pays the bills. I just get on with it. I'm motivated by deadlines, cashflow, supporting my family and my company. – Linda Aitchison


When a person says that they are suffering from ‘writer’s block,’ what they often mean is that they have some ideas, but they think all of those ideas are unoriginal or unworthy.– Devon Price


When you experience writers block, just bark, meow or make a funny sound to get your whole body functioning again ... works all the time... – Emmanuel Adams


The best copywriters are the most tenacious researchers. Like miners, they dig, drill, dynamite, and chip until they have carloads of valuable ore. John Caples advised me once to gather seven times more interesting information than I could possibly use... Research is the infallible cure for writer's block. – Gary Bencivenga 


Writer's block is a fancy term made up by whiners so they can have an excuse to drink alcohol. - Steve Martin


If you get writer’s block, consider whether it’s because you’re not being honest enough. You might be blocked because what you really need to write, you’re unwilling to let it out yet. – Neil Gaiman


It’s not the fear of writing that blocks people, it’s the fear of not writing well; something quite different. – Scott Berkun


You can’t think yourself out of a writing block;
you have to write yourself out of a thinking block.

John Rogers



Writer’s block doesn’t exist…lack of imagination does. – Cyrese Covelli

Writer's block: That moment when you freeze on the bridge between expectation and reality. – Joyce Rachelle

Writing about a writer's block is better than not writing at all. – Charles Bukowski

If you have writer's block, dig into it. You are resisting something. Something is getting in the way of your creative work. Resistance always means something. Vinita Hampton Wright

Big reveal here: there is no such thing as writer’s block. There’s only laziness, fear, and overthinking. You’re just using the wrong part of your mind at that moment. – James Dowd

A hammer made of deadlines is the surest tool for crushing writer's block. – Ryan Lilly


Never use writer’s block as an excuse. The only way to do it is to do it. When you’re stuck, the only way through it is through it. Just keep going. Put words on the page, worry about them later. Stop overthinking it and write. – James Dowd

Writer's block is just another name for fear. – Jacob Nordby


A little writer's block can be a good thing. Your inner-literary critic's way of gently letting you know you're really stinking up the joint. You're off track. Lost in the weeds. Need to go back and rethink things. – Quentin R. Bufogle


There is indeed one person who can help solve “writer’s block”. His name is Mr Johnnie Walker. – Ashwin Sanghi


I have found repeatedly hitting my head with a mallet
doesn't help at all, so I am open to suggestions.

Steve Merrick


I learned to produce whether I wanted to or not. It would be easy to say oh, I have writer’s block, oh, I have to wait for my muse. I don’t. Chain that muse to your desk and get the job done. – Barbara Kingsolver


Writer’s block is akin to a “vacancy” sign; if you wait long enough they will eventually fill. – Nanette L. Avery

There is no such thing as writer’s block. There is only procrastination and fear and perfectionism and pure laziness. – Travis Thrasher

The subconscious mind is amazingly efficient – it wants to work your story out – and while I’ve never experienced it myself, my guess is that writer’s block is the result of the conscious mind having gotten too involved in the process. – Alistair Cross


Writer's block is just a fancy way of saying “I don't feel like doing any work today.” – Meagan Spooner

When you're at odds with yourself, it's hard to create. Sometimes the writing process is as easy as opening up the window and letting in the breeze. And sometimes it's like chiseling away at a block of granite with a pencil. – Anthony Kiedis,

Writer’s block is only a failure of the ego. – Norman Mailer

Some days constipated thoughts clog the day. – Richard L. Ratliff


Breaking through writer's block is like thinking out of the box: Both require an ability to imagine a world outside your four walls or rearranging them to get a better view. – Susan J. McIntire

I haven’t had writer’s block. I think it’s because my process involves writing very badly. – Jennifer Egan


Writer's block comes from the feeling that one is doing
the wrong thing or doing the right thing badly.

John Gardner


I don't believe in writer's block. Writer's block is when you're running down an ally and all of a sudden you're trapped by a brick wall. You can't go under, over, or through it. You're stuck. But the problem isn't that you can't pass the brick wall. You see, the problem is that you went down the wrong ally. –  Barry Lyga


Writing isn't difficult. Writing well is difficult. What is most difficult is being with the interior experience that manifests as resistance to writing. – H. Raven Rose


Professional writers don't have muses; they have mortgages. – Larry Kahaner

No one ever says ‘Wow I just can’t talk today!’ (unless you’ve lost your voice or your vocal chords have been removed) so, you CAN ALWAYS talk — which means you can ALWAYS write! – Joel Saltzman

Sometimes writing is hard. You know what’s not hard? Watching Netflix. That’s easy. – Beth Revis


Writer’s block, how to overcome it: write something substantial every morning, and while doing so forget entirely the impression you’re creating. That is, overcome ego. – Paul Fussell


Writer’s block simply means the structure for an idea is broken. If you give ideas a robust structure, then writer’s block vanishes forever. – Thomas Clifford 


Writer’s block? I’ve heard of this. This is when a writer cannot write, yes? Then that person isn’t a writer anymore. I’m sorry, but the job is getting up in the fucking morning and writing for a living. – Warren Ellis


When you hit a wall, when you’re feeling blocked, step away from the computer. Take a run. Rub the dog’s belly. Read 50 pages of a novel. Watch a stupid situation comedy. Let your brain relax. Let it reboot. No one ever got anywhere by banging on the backspace key for hours on end. – Frank Bruni


Prescription for writer’s block: Fear of Poverty. – Peter Mayle


For more on this subject, check out:

👉Aaron Sorkin on Writer’s Block

👉A Proven Way to Beat Writer's Block

👉Copywriter Writer's Block*a piece I wrote for “Change My Mind
(currently available at no charge).

*This eBook, described as “an opinionated book on how narratives and content shape the way we see things” also includes work from GeorgeTannenbaumNickPrinsloo, EsmeraldaAvellaneda, DustinDoolingSantanuSenguptaWadeSkalsky, MarDomĂ­nguez SedaGenaGephart, and RobMaiale.

Friday, December 23, 2022

'til Monday

Leaving the office on Friday

How many times, when passing through the exit door on a Friday, have you raised an arm in a brief salute and said, "Have a great weekend, everybody."?

More than once, I'd venture.

Andrew Joliffe, offers his meaning behind that moment as only he, a world-class copywriter, could:

A decent weekend to everyone. 

I mean everyone. 

Sisters, dads, friends, colleagues, lovers, exes and old foes. Everyone I know, wish I knew and still never will. Everyone who believes,  considers and, above all, listens. Thanks. 

The dazzlers, the dainty, the dippy and downright dandy. The hopers, survivors and scrapers-by. The triers, the never-stop-tryers and the try-once-mores. The ice-cream makers, the glassblowers and the carpet-cleaners. 

The girl at the checkout, the guy up the pylon, the kid up to no bloody good, the couple in the queue. Those who love, or just so want to. The fighters and the fought. The sweltering, the freezing, the lost and the windswept. 

The captain and the sailor and the rest of the crew. The folks holding, this very second, a hope, a wood-plane, a scalpel, a magic marker, a mouse, a bed-pan, an icing gun, a riot shield or just a hand.

The people who write briefs, and those who have a go. 

Everyone who’s ever done me proud, or even done me over. Even those Belgian rogues who still owe me that 8.5K. Yes, you. 

The absolute best to you all.


Andrew Joliffe
Andrew Joliffe

"I’m a freelance anglophone copywriter based in Italy. With me come 28 years of experience in the form of ads, strategies, thought starters, content, posts, brand platforms, manifestos and copy.

"Some of those have won prizes in Cannes, Paris and New York, but more importantly I still adore writing them. More than ever. Talent might get you work, but only love makes it shine."

Thursday, December 15, 2022

The next hour was 3 hours long

The 25 Best Raymond Chandler Quotes

Raymond Chandler was a master of the metaphor, the simile, and creating word pictures. 

Writers can learn a thing or two reading his books, so ...

Do yourself a favor and pick up a copy of The Big Sleep or The Long Goodbye or The High Window or The Little Sister or  The Lady in the Lake or Farewell, My Lovely and dive in.

Here are some lines from those books to inform and inspire your writing and to get you excited about reading (or rereading) one of Chandler's books.

“She smelled the way the Taj Mahal looks by moonlight.”


“I went out the kitchen to make coffee - yards of coffee. Rich, strong, bitter, boiling hot, ruthless, depraved. The life blood of tired men.”


“I was as empty of life as a scarecrow's pockets.”

“I’m an occasional drinker, the kind of guy who goes out for a beer and wakes up in Singapore with a full beard.” 


“The next hour was three hours long.”


“She tried to keep a cute little smile on her face but her face was too tired to be bothered.”


“All she did was take her hand out of her bag, with a gun in it. All she did was point it at me and smile. All I did was nothing.”


“The subject was as easy to spot as a kangaroo in a dinner jacket.”


“Her whole body shivered and her face fell apart like a bride’s pie crust. She put it together again slowly, as if lifting a great weight, by sheer will power. The smile came back, with a couple of corners badly bent.”


“The room was empty. It was full of silence and the memory of a nice perfume.”


“There are places where cops are not hated, Captain. But in those places you wouldn't be a cop.”


“The voice on the telephone seemed to be sharp and peremptory, but I didn't hear too well what it said, partly because I was only half awake and partly because I was holding the receiver upside down.”


“She poured us some more Scotch. It didn't seem to affect her any more than water affects Boulder Dam.”


“A occasional whiff of his personality drifted back to me.”


“She brought the glass over. Bubbles rose in it like false hopes.”


“It was a nice walk, if you like grunting.”

“I smelled of gin. Not just casually, as if I had taken four or five drinks of a winter morning to get out of bed on, but as if the Pacific Ocean was pure gin and I had nosedived off the boat deck. The gin was in my hair and eyebrows, on my chin and under my chin. It was on my shirt. I smelled like dead toads.” 

“It seemed like a nice neighborhood to have bad habit in."


"Hair like steel wool grew far back on his head and gave him a domed brown forehead that might at careless glance seemed a dwelling place for brains.”


“He breathed like an old Ford with a leaky head gasket.”


“The minutes went by on tiptoe, with their fingers to their lips.”


“Overhead the rain still pounded, with a remote sound, as if it was somebody else's rain.”


“You mean something happened to him?” Her voice faded off into sort of a sad whisper, like a mortician asking for a down payment.”

"Dead men are heavier than broken hearts." 


"If I had a razor, I'd cut your throat — just to see what ran out of it."


"Under the thinning fog the surf curled and creamed, almost without sound, like a thought trying to form itself on the edge of consciousness."


"It was a blonde. A blonde to make a bishop kick a hole in a stained-glass window."


“A few locks of dry white hair clung to his scalp, like wild flowers fighting for life on a bare rock.”


“Neither of the two people in the room paid any attention to the way I came in, although only one of them was dead."


"His office had the musty smell of years of routine.”

“Time makes everything mean and shabby and wrinkled. The tragedy of life, Howard, is not that the beautiful things die young, but that they grow old and mean.”


Addendum A

When thinking about Raymond Chandler and his protagonist Philip Marlowe, I'm reminded that, according to Roger Rosenblatt, all writers are mystery writers.

All writers are mystery writers. 

We may not employ detectives in our work, but as seekers of guilty parties, we can identify with Nick Charles, Sam Spade, Lew Archer, Miss Marple and the rest. 

Like them, we muck about in a world studded with clues, neck-deep in motives. Like them, we falter in our investigations and follow wrong leads. 

We are foolhardy, preposterous, nosy, irritating. No one wants us around. We work alone, yet like Sam Spade, we operate within a tradition of our own, of which we are respectfully aware. 

Write and you are in the company of all who have written before you. Only when we have finished a piece of work do we know true shamus loneliness, realizing that the chase is over and that no one has been watching us but us.

Addendum B

Raymond Chandler's rules for writers:

The important thing is that there should be a space of time, say four hours a day at the least, when a professional writer doesn’t do anything but write. He doesn’t have to write, and if he doesn’t feel like it, he shouldn’t try. He can look out the window or stand on his head or writhe on the floor. But he is not to do any other positive thing, not read, write letters, glance at magazines, or write checks. Either write or nothing…. I find it works. 

Two very simple rules, a: you don’t have to write. b: you can’t do anything else. The rest comes of itself.


Wednesday, December 7, 2022

Career Advice

Career advice for copywriters & content writers


I gave the wrong advice.

A new copywriter asked me for career advice.

So I offered some sage wisdom about becoming a better copywriter. 

I felt good about the guidance I had provided, until I heard the response: "I was hoping for career advice. Not advice on how to improve my copywriting." 


So, this was my second attempt:

Live your life, not someone else's.

Find a job you enjoy.

Do what you say you'll do.

Venture outside of your comfort zone.

If you need help, ask for it.

Be a lifelong learner.

Embrace failure.

Search for the value in feedback and criticism.

Cultivate perseverance.

Be willing to sacrifice some things to build the career you want.

Don't settle.

Learn to work with people you wouldn't socialize with.

Be a team player.  
Realize that planning without executing is a waste of time. 
Don’t confuse being busy with being productive. 
Understand that your skills are important, but your attitude is critical. 
Accept that FOMO kills your ability to focus. 
Know that your personal brand can get you into rooms your degree can’t. 

Don’t rely on motivation, discipline is more important.

Understand that habits drive both success and failure, develop good ones 

Don't be afraid to speak up. 

Set realistic goals.

Work harder than those around you.

Let go of perfection.

Don’t be sidetracked by unexpected inconveniences.

See opportunity in chaos. 

Identify and use your strengths.

Be confident, yet humble.

Understand that your job doesn't define you. Your self-identity is about who you are as a person. What you do for work is only a piece of your life.


PS When opportunity presents itself, go for it. It might not work out, but maybe seeing if it does will be the best adventure ever.

Thursday, December 1, 2022

Why Punctuation is Important

Punctuation is Important

An apology or a declaration?

I’m sorry; I love you.

I’m sorry I love you.

A fun learning activity or horrific crime?

We’re going to learn to cut and paste, kids!

We’re going to learn to cut and paste kids.

A difference of $95.

Twenty-five dollar bills. 

Twenty five-dollar bills. 

Is it all about him or her?

A woman: without her, man is nothing.

A woman without her man is nothing.

Wholesome observation or admission of odd eating habits?

I take great pleasure in eating my dog and my plants. 

I take great pleasure in eating, my dog, and my plants.

Something you expect to see in a restaurant or something you never want to see anywhere?

Man eating chicken.  
Man-eating chicken

Here's an Apple ad that recalls the silliness above, but uses an intentional misplacement of punctuation to masterfully focus on a key differentiator:

Apple MacBook Ad: Light. Years Ahead.

The Parking Spot Next to the Front Door

“You could sell sawdust to a lumber mill,” said my boss as he threw his arm around Byron’s shoulders. The team applauded as Byron held up th...