The Writing Wall


Every long writing project has one: The wall.

Research paper, novel, non fiction book, even a massive web site rewrite. They all have that moment when I want to run away.

Believe me when I say this, the writing wall is worse than your average writer’s block. It’s a malaise.

I feel like I can’t go on, that the project will never get competed. I look at the screen or paper empty inside, dreading the work.

It’s the metaphorical wall, the one marathon runners always talk about. If I don’t push through, the project dies.

For me, it usually seems the wall happens about 3/4 to 4/5 of the way through a project. In the case of Marketing in the Round, there was no wall for my half of the book, but I had a really hard time getting started thanks to a flood that hit my house.

But I have experienced the wall since then, and know I am not cured.

Here are some personal tips to break through the writing wall:

  • Flush the endorphins with a long bike ride or heavy work out. Another source of bad thinking is brain chemistry. I won’t take “writing PEDs”, but I have no qualms about intentionally scrubbing my head with a serious work-out.
  • Focus on blog posts for a few days to balance the writing diet while maintaining everyday writing discipline.
  • Go somewhere else for a few days without any expectation or pressure to write. Literally, yield to the wall and give myself license to unplug for a couple of days.
  • Inject personal fun. Sometimes I hit the wall because I am working too hard, and have no sense of joy outside of Soleil time. Go see a movie or catch a game.
  • Sleep, a lot. Mental exhaustion can create the wall.

Individually or in combination these acts power me through the wall. Do not quit. Once I break from the pattern of regular writing and editing, it’s really hard to regain form.

Have you experienced the wall? How do you break through?