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150 Non-Writing Things to Do When Writer’s Block Strikes

By Britton Perelman · October 26, 2022

150 Non-Writing Things to Do When Writer's Block Strikes

If you’re a writer, you’ve experienced some form of writer’s block.

We’ve all been there.

Staring at a blank page. That wretched cursor blinking over and over and over again as you slowly go insane waiting for the words to come.

Or even worse… you were in a groove, the words flowing like the cool waves of a river over a cascading fall, but then out of nowhere they just stopped. The river ran dry in an instant and, try as you might, you can’t force another sentence into existence.

It can be maddening. I mean, it’s frustrating as hell when you have to walk away from the writing, especially when you want — no, you need — the words to materialize.

But sometimes NOT writing is exactly what your brain needs to kickstart the creativity again.

So, if the words aren’t flowing, the page is still blank, or you’re just going crazy writing and rewriting the same sentence infinitum… here’s a list of 150 things you can do instead.

Just maybe take a notebook along in case inspiration strikes.

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Things That Are Active

1. TAKE A WALK — Writing is such a sedentary act. You’d be surprised how helpful a quick five-minute walk around the block can be.

2. GO FOR A HIKE — Look up the best places to hike near you, lace up your shoes, and hit the trail.

3. JOIN AN EXERCISE CLASS — As Elle Woods said, “Exercise gives you endorphins. Endorphins make you happy. Happy people just don’t get writer’s block. They just don’t.” That’s the quote, right?

4. TRY YOGA — Yoga reduces stress, improves mental health, and boosts immunity, so it might just help you start writing again too.

5. GO SWIMMING — If it worked for the protagonist of Tick, Tick… Boom! then it can work for you too.

6. OR FOR A BIKE RIDE — And don’t let anyone make fun of you for the cool streamers on your handlebars.

7. TEST OUT A NEW SPORT — I hear pickleball is all the rage.

8. DANCE IT OUT — I mean, there’s a reason they’re always doing it on Grey’s Anatomy.

Things To Clean Up Your Life

9. TAKE A SHOWER — It’s not cliché if it’s true! The best ideas often come to us while we’re in the shower because it’s basically a time when we’re on auto-pilot, more focused on our internal thoughts than our external environment. Lather, rinse, repeat!

10. DO THE DISHES — Like taking a shower, but without the wet hair! Who knows where your mind will wander while you’re scrubbing away coffee stains.

11. ACTUALLY MAKE YOUR BED FOR ONCE — This is also great if you need an easy thing to check off your to-do list every morning.

12. VACUUM THE HOUSE — Maybe it’s just me, but I find something so calming about methodically vacuuming each room of my house. And if I happen to get a good story idea while sucking up all the dog hair on the floor, I’m not gonna be one to argue.

13. FOLD YOUR LAUNDRY — I know it’s easy to just leave it in the basket, but hey, why not fold it all nice and neat for once?

14. DEEP-CLEAN YOUR CLOSETS — Who knows what’s hidden away back there.

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15. CLEAN OUT YOUR FRIDGE AND PANTRY — After all, you’re never going to use that gluten-free veggie pasta, are you?

16. CLEAN YOUR CAR — So that you can do number 56 on this list without being bothered by random receipts and empty coffee cups.

17. DUST YOUR ENTIRE HOUSE — Because when the words aren’t flowing, the dust can’t wait.

18. MOW THE LAWN — Bonus points if you make this one active by using a push mower!

Productive Things You’ll Be Thankful You Did Later

19. ORGANIZE YOUR DESKTOP — Folders within folders within folders, baby!

20. ORGANIZE YOUR DESK — You and I both know that you’ll write more if your desk is tidy.

21. GO THROUGH YOUR EMAIL INBOX — Imagine how good it will feel when you have ZERO unread emails.

22. PURGE YOUR CONTACTS — Come on, like you’re really going to need Tracy from high school’s cell number anytime soon.

23. RE-ORDER YOUR BOOKSHELVES — Go color-coordinated. Or alphabetical! Or alphabetical by color! The possibilities are endless!

24. UPDATE YOUR RESUME — And delete those special skills you don’t really have while you’re at it. Knowing how to say “Voulez-vous coucher avec moi?” doesn’t count as speaking French.

25. DO THAT HOUSEHOLD CHORE YOU’VE BEEN PUTTING OFF FOR MONTHS — You know the one.

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Things You Can Do At Home

26. SOLVE A JIGSAW PUZZLE — If you piece together a puzzle, you might just find the missing piece for your story too.

27. PLAY SOLITAIRE WITH REAL CARDS — Yes you could do this online, but it’s so much more satisfying IRL.

28. PLAY A BOARD GAME — You never know when inspiration will strike. You might just be playing Chutes and Ladders.

29. FENG-SHUI YOUR HOUSE — Just make sure you have a TV so there’s something to point all your furniture at.

30. TAKE UP GARDENING — Vegetables and flowers and herbs, oh my!

31. WATCH AN OUTDOOR MOVIE — Did you know you can turn your cell phone into a movie projector? Pop some popcorn, head outside, and press play.

32. GO CAMPING IN YOUR BACKYARD — The best part? Indoor plumbing is right inside.

33. BUILD A FORT — The ones you made as a kid were pretty great, but you’re older now, and much more skilled. Who knows how incredible your pillow fort could become. You might just decide to move in permanently.

Things You Can Do Online

34. DO THE NYTIMES CROSSWORD — How fast can you solve the mini puzzle?

35. OR THE VULTURE 10×10 — Pop culture crosswords are infinitely more fun, don’t you think?

36. TRY WORDLE AGAIN — How many five-letter words do you know?

37. OR FRAMED — Which is like Wordle, but for movies!

38. TAKE A MASTERCLASS — Learn from Aaron Sorkin, Shonda Rhimes, Martin Scorsese, Spike Lee, Judd Apatow, David Lynch, and other great creatives without ever leaving your couch.

39. WATCH A TED TALK — The TED website even has ready-made playlists about everything from how to tell a story to where ideas come from to the power of film.

40. MAKE SOME PLAYLISTS FOR DIFFERENT MOODS — Yes you could use one of Spotify’s mood playlists, but where’s the fun in that?

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41. EXPLORE WITH GOOGLE EARTH — Look up your childhood home, your favorite place in the world, or a city you’ve always wanted to visit and start exploring.

42. PLAN A TRIP — Once you’ve traveled on the world wide web, start planning a vacation for yourself. You’ve earned it.

43. TAKE QUIZZES ON SPORCLE — Test your knowledge of movies, TV shows, song lyrics, literature, and a million other things you never thought there could be a quiz about.

44. USE THE RANDOM WIKIPEDIA PAGE GENERATOR — Check out this page and start tumbling down the rabbit hole of random Wikipedia pages.

45. PERUSE ATLAS OBSCURA FOR COOL AND UNUSUAL THINGS TO DO IN THE U.S. — From a psychedelic labyrinth to abandoned theme parks, this list is endlessly entertaining.

46. VIRTUAL ESCAPE ROOM — I’m not convinced they’re quite as high-stakes as real escape rooms, but I’ll let you be the judge.

47. LEARN A NEW LANGUAGE — So you can add it to the Skills section of your resume for real this time.

48. TAKE A PERSONALITY TEST… OR TWENTY — What’s your Myers-Briggs type? Your enneagram number? How about your DISC profile type?

49. BRUSH UP ON YOUR ASTROLOGY — The 12 Zodiac signs can be super helpful with creating characters

50. WATCH SOME VIDEO ESSAYS ABOUT MOVIES AND TV SHOWS — Whatever your favorite movie or show is, I bet there’s a video essay about it on YouTube.

51. READ SUSAN ORLEAN’S AFTERWORD SERIES — Who knew obituaries could be so compelling?

52. OR HUNTER HARRIS’ LINE READINGS — And then make a list of the lines that play on a loop in your head!

53. OR SOME MODERN LOVE STORIES — I promise the written stories are better than the Amazon TV show.

54. SUPPORT A SMALL BUSINESS OR INDEPENDENT ARTIST ON ETSY — You probably didn’t know that you needed a literal writer’s block or small jar of fucks, but now you can’t live without them.

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Things That Require You To Leave The House

55. GO GET COFFEE — And not at Starbucks.

56. GO FOR A DRIVE TO NOWHERE — Just let your brain zone out and think about your story as you make random lefts and rights until you’re well and truly lost.

57. RUN THOSE ERRANDS YOU’VE BEEN PUTTING OFF — Inspiration might just strike in the Home Décor section of Target.

58. GO TO THE GROCERY STORE AND WANDER UP AND DOWN THE AISLES — At the very least you can stock up on snacks for your next writing session.

59. GO WINDOW-SHOPPING — But make a concerted effort to not buy anything!

60. OR ACTUALLY GO SHOPPING — You deserve a shopping spree!

61. PICNIC IN A LOCAL PARK — Even Sweeney Todd and Mrs. Lovett went to the park for a nice picnic in between their more nefarious hobbies.

62. FIND SOMEWHERE TO VOLUNTEER — As Ted Lasso said, “Doing the right thing is never the wrong thing.”

63. FIND A 24-HOUR DINER AND EAVESDROP — The best way to get better at writing dialogue is by listening to people talk.

64. PEOPLE-WATCH AT THE MALL — Turn it into a game and make up stories about the people you see.

65. WALK THE DOGS AND PET THE CATS AT YOUR LOCAL SHELTER — They get love and attention, you get a break from writing. It’s mutually beneficial.

66. TEST DRIVE SOME NEW CARS — You don’t even have to pay for the gas!

67. GO HOUSE-HUNTING — Pretend you’re in the market for some new digs and hit up a few open houses in your neighborhood.

68. OR APPLE-PICKING — It’ll be a bushel of fun.

69. OR WINE-TASTING — I’m getting hints of procrastination…

70. TREAT YOURSELF TO SOME ICE CREAM — What flavor would your protagonist choose? Are they a chocolate sauce kind of person, or do they prefer rainbow sprinkles?

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Other Things Not At Your House

70. GO SEE A MOVIE IN A THEATER INSTEAD OF YOUR LIVING ROOM — Please no talking or texting. Thanks, and enjoy the movie.

71. PLAY PUTT-PUTT — You have 18 holes to figure out what comes next in your story.

72. OR LAZER TAG — Could be an interesting setting to add to your work-in-progress.

73. PERUSE YOUR LOCAL INDEPENDENT BOOKSTORE — Hit up the writing section. Or don’t. You do you.

74. HEAD TO THE ZOO — Make up backstories and personalities for the animals while you’re at it. You just might come up with the next Madagascar!

75. VISIT AN INTERESTING MUSEUM — There’s a Videogame Museum in Texas, a Hall of Heroes in Indiana, and a Museum of Roller Skating in Nebraska.

76. GET FRESH PRODUCE FROM A LOCAL FARMERS MARKET — Added bonus! Farmers markets are always chock full of interesting people.

77. GO BOWLING — The Dude abides.

78. OR HIT THE BATTING CAGES — And talk about your love life like Harry in Nora Ephron’s greatest rom-com.

79. FIND THE NEAREST ANTIQUE SHOP — And try to imagine stories for the odd items you find on the shelves.

80. BE A TOURIST IN YOUR OWN CITY — This is a great exercise in seeing the familiar from a new perspective, which just might be exactly what you need to start writing again.

81. BE A TOURIST IN A NEW CITY — Immersing yourself in a new environment can also be a great way to kickstart your creativity since your observation skills are likely already working overtime.

82. TEST YOUR KNOWLEDGE AT TRIVIA — You’re a writer though, so you better come up with a great team name.

83. SEE A COMEDY SHOW — So three screenwriters walk into a bar…

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Relaxing Things

84. TAKE A NAP — Catch some Z’s and maybe the words will come to you in a dream.

85. SUNBATHE — If you’re not on a deadline, head outside and soak up some Vitamin D!

86. GET A MASSAGE — The masseuse can work out the knots in your shoulder while you work out the kinks in your story.

87. DO A FACE MASK — If only there were an exfoliating mask that also cured writer’s block.

88. SMELL CANDLES — Hit up a Yankee Candle and smell around for the scent that inspires you most. After all, the sniffs are free.

89. FLIP THROUGH A COFFEE TABLE BOOK — And really take time to look at the photos.

90. DRINK SOME TEA — Earl Gray, Irish Breakfast, Arnold Palmer, Twisted… the choice is yours.

91. LOOK THROUGH YOUR OLD PHOTOS — Ahhhh, good times.

Things That Are Kinda Link Writing, But Are Not Really Writing

92. COME UP WITH A CREATIVE MANIFESTO — And then hang it above your desk to remind yourself why you write in the first place.

93. READ WHAT YOU’VE ALREADY WRITTEN — Try to avoid the urge to rewrite it all. Just simply read the words you’ve written.

94. RETYPE EVERYTHING YOU’VE WRITTEN SO FAR — The act of typing might just be all your brain needs to kickstart it into writing new things. Try retyping what you already have and see if it’s easier to keep going.

95. GIVE NOTES ON A FRIEND’S PROJECT — Sometimes it’s easier to comment on and critique someone else’s writing than it is to actually write anything yourself. And that’s okay! You never know what revelation you might get about your story by reading someone else’s.

96. CREATE A PINTEREST MOOD BOARD FOR YOUR PROJECT — Scripts may just be words on a page, but movies and TV shows are visual. Spend some time searching for images that evoke the vibe of your story, then look back whenever you need some inspiration.

97. GO DOWN A RESEARCH RABBIT HOLE — We’ve all written “TBD WILL LOOK UP LATER” in our scripts. Now’s the time to actually look it up… whatever it may be.

98. MAKE SOME LISTS — Favorite movies, TV shows, writers, actors, and books. Places you want to go. Things you want to write. Things you WISH you’d written. Lists are just great.

99. WRITE A LETTER TO AN OLD FRIEND (BY HAND) — There’s something special about writing by hand rather than typing into a digital document.

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Things That Are Creative In A Different Way

100. IMPROVE YOUR PHOTOGRAPHY SKILLS — Combine with number 1 on this list and photograph the little things you see around your neighborhood.

101. COLOR — The coloring books you had as a kid were probably cool, but the ones you can buy as an adult are so much better. Sometimes they have swear words in them!

102. PAINT YOUR WALLS — The color blue supposedly boosts creativity. And who doesn’t want blue walls?

103. OR WITH WATERCOLORS — Watercolors are forgiving, so they’re great for beginners or writers looking to try another art form.

104. OR BY NUMBERS — Thankfully there’s no math involved. Just paintbrushes.

105. OR WITH WATER BALLOONS — Admit it. You’ve wanted to do this ever since you saw The Princess Diaries

106. DOODLE — It doesn’t even have to be good! It’s just something for your hands to do while you noodle over what comes next in your story.

107. LEARN TO KNIT — If it works for grandmas and Olympic divers and Meryl Streep, it can work for you too.

108. THROW POTTERY — Great way to be creative and let out some anger. Plus you get a lopsided bowl at the end of it.

109. PRACTICE CALLIGRAPHY — Just give it a try. Your handwriting really is chicken scratch.

110. FIND A NEW HOBBY — Take up scrapbooking, glass-blowing, or cross-stitching. Try improv. Heck, channel your inner Ron Swanson and teach yourself how to build a canoe from scratch.

111. WRITE SOMETHING ELSE (NOT A SCREENPLAY) — Sometimes the best way to get back into the groove of writing is to write something else. Try a poem, a blog post, or a play. Start working on a novel. Interview someone interesting and transcribe it. Even an old-fashioned book report might be fun!

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Things That Will Get You Out Of Your Own Head

112. READ A BOOK — Stick to your favorite genre or try something new. You can’t go wrong with picking up a good book.

113. BINGE A TV SHOW — Bonus points if you take notes about storylines and episode structure while you’re watching.

114. WATCH YOUR FAVORITE MOVIE — Best thing is that you’re a screenwriter, so, very technically, this counts as research.

115. OR REWATCH THE ONE YOU LOVED MOST AS A KID — There’s nothing wrong with singing along if it just so happens to be a Disney movie. It’s the circle, the circle of lifeeeeeeeee!

116. TRY AN INTERESTING DOCUMENTARY — Never know what fascinating thing you might learn.

117. LISTEN TO A PODCAST — Might I recommend Decoder Ring or Pop Culture Happy Hour?

118. OR AN AUDIOBOOK — But remember to press pause if you get an idea and start writing again!

119. WATCH TIKTOK VIDEOS — Let your mind relax as you scroll aimlessly through video after video after video…

120. SCROLL INSTAGRAM OR TWITTER — Just make sure to bookmark anything you find inspirational, motivational, or helpful for your story.

121. PLAY A VIDEO GAME — After you’ve gotten hit with yet another red shell in Mario Kart, you might just be sprinting back to your work-in-progress.

Things That Require A Kitchen

122. PLAN YOURSELF A REALLY NICE MEAL — No, I’m sorry, but Easy Mac does not count.

123. TRY A NEW RECIPE — And no skipping any steps!

124. BAKE SOME BREAD — Plenty of time for your idea to percolate while you’re waiting for your dough to proof.

125. OR COOKIES — Sorry, can’t write, the cookies need to come out of the oven in two minutes.

126. PERFECT YOUR FAVORITE COCKTAIL — The one you like to get when you’re out and about because you just can’t make it very well at home.

127. MAKE A MEAL FROM YOUR FAVORITE MOVIE — Or just watch Binging with Babish cook instead. That sorta counts, right?

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Things That Are Loud

128. BLAST SOME MUSIC — Drown out everything else and just let the music clear your mind.

129. GO SEE LIVE MUSIC — It’s always easier to get lost in the music when someone’s playing it live in front of you.

130. LEARN TO PLAY AN INSTRUMENT —Stephen King writes bestselling novels and plays the guitar. Why can’t you?

131. TRY LISTENING TO CLASSICAL MUSIC — Along with a handful of really great health benefits, listening to classical music is supposed to help improve your brainpower, memory, and creativity too. Plus you’ll seem really sophisticated.

132. SING YOUR HEART OUT — And don’t worry if you aren’t sure about the lyrics. Hold me closer, Tony Danza!

Things That Are Quiet

133. MEDITATE — Deep breath in… and out. In… and out.

134. GO FISHING — Once you cast your line, there will be plenty of time for your mind to wander and think of ideas for your story’s plot.

135. CATCH FIREFLIES — You liked doing it when you were a kid, why not try it again now?

136. GO STARGAZING — And try to point out a constellation you’ve never been able to spot before.

137. SIT BY A BONFIRE — Your next amazing scene might be hiding in the flames… or in between the graham crackers of a s’more…

138. WATCH THE SUNSET — And once the cotton candy clouds have receded and twilight has descended, head back to your work-in-progress.

Random And Silly Things That Just Might Do The Trick

139. TEACH YOUR PET A NEW TRICK — Now wouldn’t it be amazing if you could teach them to write your script for you?

140. BUY GOOGLY EYES AND PUT THEM ON OBJECTS AROUND YOUR HOUSE — It’ll make you smile now… and later!

141. ADOPT A PLANT — Even if it’s a fake one. Still counts!

142. PLAY WITH LEGOS — Build Hogwarts. Or the Millennium Falcon! Or the Delorean from Back to the Future! Or Monica’s apartment from Friends!

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143. OR PLAY-DOH — There’s just something so satisfying about sculpting something and then squishing it into nothing…

144. TRY BIRD WATCHING — You might find a blue-eyed ground dove… or you might find that you’re so bored you’d rather be writing. Win/win either way.

145. LEARN TO READ TAROT CARDS — Supposedly the cards tell stories. I just haven’t figured out how to interpret them yet.

146. TEACH YOURSELF A MAGIC TRICK — There’s probably a metaphor here about how writing is its own magic trick… but pulling a quarter from someone’s ear might be more fun to figure out.

147. CALL SOMEONE JUST TO SAY HELLO — Once the conversation gets going, they might have some interesting anecdotes to share.

148. LIE ON THE FLOOR — No joke! Researchers from the Australian National University discovered that people tended to be more creative when lying flat on their backs.

149. TALK TO A STRANGER — Not like a creepy one, just a regular, nice one. They probably have an interesting life story.

150. KEEP STARING AT THAT BLANK PAGE — You never know when the words will return.

If these 150 things somehow don’t help you get over your writer’s block, maybe these 50 screenwriting quotes will do the trick. Or you can try “the Einstein technique” to increase your creative thinking.

Whatever route you take, just keep writing — eventually.