One Word Then Another

How to Write When the Words Won’t Flow

Photo by Kevin Menajang on Pexels.com

All writers go through good spells and bad spells. Whether it’s an afternoon spent staring at a blank screen or months without turning on the computer, not being able to write can cause feelings of hopelessness and frustration.

It can take time to rediscover a writing routine. But just as the sun will rise and the tide will turn, the words will come flowing back. In this post, we offer five simple action plans to help set you on your way.


1. Write about not being able to write

Don’t just put the pen on paper; put the pain on paper. Words are still there for you even if you are struggling to string them together right now.

Take a feeling. Take an image. Take a single word and use it to write a rough, cathartic poem. Repeat, rhyme, rupture… you’re in charge. The result won’t be perfect, but that doesn’t matter. Keep these frustrated scribbles for future reference: one day you may turn them into something more polished, or if not they will still remind you of how far you’ve come.

sometimes the words
just don’t

you strive and strain to string
a chain

words smudge into desolate sheet
soaked
strop
scour the dictionary
tear the thesaurus

write scrunch write scrunch

right scrunch you’ve made
can’t create coherent

stop

2. Read about not being able to write

There are countless articles online about overcoming writer’s block. It’s not a good idea to trawl through them all, but reading a couple of well-written, inspiring pieces can give you a prod in the right direction.

Knowing you are not the only writer who feels like giving up can stop you being too hard on yourself. Take a look at Twitter’s #writingcommunity for a supportive and encouraging space where writers share their insecurities.

3. Write about ANYTHING

This is the least useful advice you could ever give to someone struggling to write. Yet it can also be liberating.

If you’ve hit a brick wall with your writing, maybe what you’re trying to create just isn’t right for you. Every writer has a unique voice that can be refined through practice. When you choose to write in a certain genre, form or style you are deciding to neglect hundreds more. This is fine when the going is good. But if you’ve lost your way, it could be time to retrace your steps and choose a different path.

Going back to basics and reconsidering what you really want to say may propel your writing in a completely new direction. Or it might remind you why you chose your original style in the first place. A lot of the time you’ll end up carrying on with what you had already started, but by taking a step back you’ll have renewed and reaffirmed your passion.

4. Read about ANYTHING

Novel, poem, nature magazine or recipe, anything can be a source of inspiration. Try reading:

  • An opinion piece you know you’ll disagree with. Read the article and write a response from the heart. Alternatively, try to put into words the anger you felt as you were reading.
  • Your favourite book. As you’re reading, think about what the author does that makes you want to come back to their work time and time again.
  • Five poems. Then choose your favourite word/line from each. Combine these into your own poem, edit and gradually work the source material into your own piece. By the time you’re finished you may no longer have any of the original words in your poem, but starting this way saves you the pressure of seeing an empty page!
  • In another language. If you’re struggling to write in your mother tongue, remember there are over 7,000 languages spoken in the world! With even a limited vocabulary you can start writing short poems that might just inspire something great in this or your first language.

5. Take a break

Sometimes taking a break is the best option. Bake some brownies or watch some welly wanging. Do whatever helps you relax. Taking some time away from writing will rekindle your desire and allow you to come back stronger.


We hope some of these ideas inspire you to start or resume writing. You can follow @BrieflyWrite on Twitter for more inspiration and tips, and don’t forget to check out the Briefly Write Prompt Game too.

Haiku A Day – Day 27

Photo by Gustavo Fring

On the last day of August, we’re wrapping up the Briefly Write ‘Haiku A Day’ Challenge… for now! We hope that these posts have served as inspiration for your poetry writing.

The Briefly Write Weekly Prompt Game runs every Wednesday on Twitter (via @dang_clark) and here on the Prompts page.

Keep your eyes peeled for some fiction inspiration in September – and more poetry prompts too!

And finally, if you’ve been inspired to write poetry, why not send some of your best creations into Briefly Zine? To see the sort of work we publish and support our wonderful contributors, you can check out Issue 2 which is launching on Saturday 5 September!

The Challenge

At Briefly Write we’re firm believers in the power of well-chosen words. The haiku’s tight form will make you pay close attention to word choice and help you hone straight in on the most powerful images.

Here’s what you need to do: Write a haiku. Every day. We might be ending the posts, but we’ll still be writing a daily haiku – and hope carry on too!

We’d love to see what you’ve been creating and hear how you’re getting on: tweet us at @BrieflyWrite or reply in the comments to this post! And if you’ve written a poem you’re especially proud of, have a look at Briefly Zine‘s submission guidelines.


sentiments are strained
don’t know what to think or say:
repeat the old lie


Our challenge is simple: write one haiku every day. Get inspired & join the fun on Twitter or in the comments!

Haiku A Day – Day 26

As we near the end of the Briefly Write ‘Haiku A Day’ Challenge, we really hope our prompts have inspired your poetic creativity.

Writing every day is a great way to develop and sustain a writing habit. The words don’t always come easily and sometimes we all feel a little devoid of ideas. But getting something committed to paper — a first draft, however rough it is — is always a good way to go. The old saying isn’t wrong: you can’t edit a blank page.

If you’re joining us for the first time: it’s never too late to get writing! And if you want a helping hand, why not check out out the Briefly Write Weekly Prompt Game?

The Challenge

At Briefly Write we’re firm believers in the power of well-chosen words. The haiku’s tight form will make you pay close attention to word choice and help you hone straight in on the most powerful images.

Here’s what you need to do: Write a haiku. Every day.

Following along with the ‘Haiku A Day’ Challenge for a month is an incredible achievement. It will help keep your mind active, hone your writing skills, and ultimately it will mean you have 30 poems — or seedlings — you can revisit, polish up and send off to lit mags!

We’d love to see what you create and hear how you’re getting on: tweet us at @BrieflyWrite or reply in the comments to this post!


glumly present – set
on rattling suns & drawn-out
quarrels – the demise


Our challenge is simple: write one haiku every day. Get inspired & join the fun on Twitter or in the comments!

Haiku A Day – Day 25

Photo by Francesco Ungaro

As we near the end of the Briefly Write ‘Haiku A Day’ Challenge, we really hope our prompts have inspired your poetic creativity.

Writing every day is a great way to develop and sustain a writing habit. The words don’t always come easily and sometimes we all feel a little devoid of ideas. But getting something committed to paper — a first draft, however rough it is — is always a good way to go. The old saying isn’t wrong: you can’t edit a blank page.

If you’re joining us for the first time: it’s never too late to get writing! And if you want a helping hand, why not check out out the Briefly Write Weekly Prompt Game?

The Challenge

At Briefly Write we’re firm believers in the power of well-chosen words. The haiku’s tight form will make you pay close attention to word choice and help you hone straight in on the most powerful images.

Here’s what you need to do: Write a haiku. Every day.

Following along with the ‘Haiku A Day’ Challenge for a month is an incredible achievement. It will help keep your mind active, hone your writing skills, and ultimately it will mean you have 30 poems — or seedlings — you can revisit, polish up and send off to lit mags!

We’d love to see what you create and hear how you’re getting on: tweet us at @BrieflyWrite or reply in the comments to this post!


balance on bottle
edges peering into dark:
time for the next step?


Our challenge is simple: write one haiku every day. Get inspired & join the fun on Twitter or in the comments!

Haiku A Day – Day 24

Photo by Pixabay

After three weeks of the Briefly Write ‘Haiku A Day’ Challenge, hopefully you’ve written some tremendous verses.

Writing every day is a great way to develop and sustain a writing habit. The words don’t always come easily and sometimes we all feel a little devoid of ideas. But getting something committed to paper — a first draft, however rough it is — is always a good way to go. The old saying isn’t wrong: you can’t edit a blank page.

If you’re joining us for the first time: it’s never too late to get writing! If you need a prompt to get you going, why not check out out the Briefly Write Weekly Prompt Game?

The Challenge

At Briefly Write we’re firm believers in the power of well-chosen words. The haiku’s tight form will make you pay close attention to word choice and help you hone straight in on the most powerful images.

Here’s what you need to do: Write a haiku. Every day.

Following along with the ‘Haiku A Day’ Challenge for a month is an incredible achievement. It will help keep your mind active, hone your writing skills, and ultimately it will mean you have 30 poems — or seedlings — you can revisit, polish up and send off to lit mags!

We’d love to see what you create and hear how you’re getting on: tweet us at @BrieflyWrite or reply in the comments to this post!


water glass distorts
as an unsuspecting world
shatters and re-forms


Our challenge is simple: write one haiku every day. Get inspired & join the fun on Twitter or in the comments!

Haiku A Day – Day 23

Photo by Anna Shvets

After three weeks of the Briefly Write ‘Haiku A Day’ Challenge, hopefully you’ve written some tremendous verses.

Writing every day is a great way to develop and sustain a writing habit. The words don’t always come easily and sometimes we all feel a little devoid of ideas. But getting something committed to paper — a first draft, however rough it is — is always a good way to go. The old saying isn’t wrong: you can’t edit a blank page.

If you’re joining us for the first time: it’s never too late to get writing! If you need a prompt to get you going, why not check out out the Briefly Write Weekly Prompt Game?

The Challenge

At Briefly Write we’re firm believers in the power of well-chosen words. The haiku’s tight form will make you pay close attention to word choice and help you hone straight in on the most powerful images.

Here’s what you need to do: Write a haiku. Every day.

Following along with the ‘Haiku A Day’ Challenge for a month is an incredible achievement. It will help keep your mind active, hone your writing skills, and ultimately it will mean you have 30 poems — or seedlings — you can revisit, polish up and send off to lit mags!

We’d love to see what you create and hear how you’re getting on: tweet us at @BrieflyWrite or reply in the comments to this post!


under stars, under
stood alone & stripped of lies
beneath blemished masks


Our challenge is simple: write one haiku every day. Get inspired & join the fun on Twitter or in the comments!

Haiku A Day – Day 22

Photo by Brooke Lewis

After three weeks of the Briefly Write ‘Haiku A Day’ Challenge, hopefully you’ve written some tremendous verses.

Writing every day is a great way to develop and sustain a writing habit. The words don’t always come easily and sometimes we all feel a little devoid of ideas. But getting something committed to paper — a first draft, however rough it is — is always a good way to go. The old saying isn’t wrong: you can’t edit a blank page.

If you’re joining us for the first time: it’s never too late to get writing! If you need a prompt to get you going, why not check out out the Briefly Write Weekly Prompt Game?

The Challenge

At Briefly Write we’re firm believers in the power of well-chosen words. The haiku’s tight form will make you pay close attention to word choice and help you hone straight in on the most powerful images.

Here’s what you need to do: Write a haiku. Every day.

Following along with the ‘Haiku A Day’ Challenge for a month is an incredible achievement. It will help keep your mind active, hone your writing skills, and ultimately it will mean you have 30 poems — or seedlings — you can revisit, polish up and send off to lit mags!

We’d love to see what you create and hear how you’re getting on: tweet us at @BrieflyWrite or reply in the comments to this post!


day leaks through darkness
a suture spilling morning
like coffee, fresh starts


Our challenge is simple: write one haiku every day. Get inspired & join the fun on Twitter or in the comments!

Haiku A Day – Day 21

After three weeks of the Briefly Write ‘Haiku A Day’ Challenge, hopefully you’ve written some tremendous verses.

Writing every day is a great way to develop and sustain a writing habit. The words don’t always come easily and sometimes we all feel a little devoid of ideas. But getting something committed to paper — a first draft, however rough it is — is always a good way to go. The old saying isn’t wrong: you can’t edit a blank page.

If you’re joining us for the first time: it’s never too late to get writing! If you need a prompt to get you going, why not check out out the Briefly Write Weekly Prompt Game?

The Challenge

At Briefly Write we’re firm believers in the power of well-chosen words. The haiku’s tight form will make you pay close attention to word choice and help you hone straight in on the most powerful images.

Here’s what you need to do: Write a haiku. Every day.

Following along with the ‘Haiku A Day’ Challenge for a month is an incredible achievement; it will help keep your mind active, hone your writing skills, and ultimately it will mean you have 30 poems — or seedlings — you can revisit, polish up and send off to lit mags!

We’d love to see what you create and hear how you’re getting on: tweet us at @BrieflyWrite or reply in the comments to this post!


a stop button waits
“press it” the world whimpers as
we watch from sidelines


Our challenge is simple: write one haiku every day. Get inspired & join the fun on Twitter or in the comments!

Haiku A Day – Day 20

We’re almost three weeks into the Briefly Write ‘Haiku A Day’ Challenge. Hopefully, our daily posts have been inspiring you to write great poetry.

If fiction is more your thing, we’ve not forgotten about you: in September we’ll be launching a brand-new writing challenge that aims to inspire outstanding micro stories.

Writing every day is a great way to develop and sustain a writing habit. The words don’t always come easily and sometimes we all feel a little devoid of ideas. But getting something committed to paper — a first draft, however rough it is — is always a good way to go. The old saying isn’t wrong: you can’t edit a blank page.

The Challenge

At Briefly Write we’re firm believers in the power of well-chosen words. The haiku’s tight form will make you pay close attention to word choice and help you hone straight in on the most powerful images.

Here’s what you need to do: Write a haiku. Every day.

Following along with the ‘Haiku A Day’ Challenge for a month is an incredible achievement; it will help keep your mind active, hone your writing skills, and ultimately it will mean you have 30 poems — or seedlings — you can revisit, polish up and send off to lit mags!

We’d love to see what you create and hear how you’re getting on: tweet us at @BrieflyWrite or reply in the comments to this post!


step wearily down
well-trodden path, no choice left
leave it all behind


Our challenge is simple: write one haiku every day. Get inspired & join the fun on Twitter or in the comments!

Haiku A Day – Day 19

Photo by Kevin Menajang

We’re almost three weeks into the Briefly Write ‘Haiku A Day’ Challenge. Hopefully, our daily posts have been inspiring you to write great poetry.

If fiction is more your thing, we’ve not forgotten about you: in September we’ll be launching a brand-new writing challenge that aims to inspire outstanding micro stories.

Writing every day is a great way to develop and sustain a writing habit. The words don’t always come easily and sometimes we all feel a little devoid of ideas. But getting something committed to paper — a first draft, however rough it is — is always a good way to go. The old saying isn’t wrong: you can’t edit a blank page.

The Challenge

At Briefly Write we’re firm believers in the power of well-chosen words. The haiku’s tight form will make you pay close attention to word choice and help you hone straight in on the most powerful images.

Here’s what you need to do: Write a haiku. Every day.

Following along with the ‘Haiku A Day’ Challenge for a month is an incredible achievement; it will help keep your mind active, hone your writing skills, and ultimately it will mean you have 30 poems — or seedlings — you can revisit, polish up and send off to lit mags!

We’d love to see what you create and hear how you’re getting on: tweet us at @BrieflyWrite or reply in the comments to this post!


the end was near, salt
licked feebly at raw wounds &
the world kept spinning


Our challenge is simple: write one haiku every day. Get inspired & join the fun on Twitter or in the comments!