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February 16, 2023

What is Writer's Block?

We've all been there. You sit down at your desk with the intention of writing an amazing screenplay, and then—nothing. You can't think of anything to write, and you feel like all the ideas you ever had have dried up and disappeared.

Writer's block can be debilitating and depressing, but it's also totally normal—even for professional screenwriters.

In this article, we’ll show you what writer's block is for screenwriters (and isn't), how to tell if you're suffering from it, plus some tips on beating writer's block once and for all.

What is writer's block?

Writer's block is a mental barrier that makes it difficult to write. It can be caused by a number of things, including stress, and anxiety, but most of all fear that whatever you write won’t be up to scratch.

Mindset is so important and feeling like you aren’t good enough can be debilitating. It’s easy to feel that way at a time when the industry feels more competitive than ever.

But you don’t have to suffer from writer's block in silence.

Do you have writer's block?

If you're asking yourself this question then chances are pretty high that yes, you're suffering from writer's block! Don't feel bad about yourself or give up on writing altogether because this doesn't mean that what has happened here today will always happen again tomorrow.

How do you cure writer's block if you are a screenwriter?

The first thing to note is that writer’s block is caused, as we’ve just outlined, by a negative mindset.

If you feel you can’t write it could be to do with your external circumstances. Sometimes you just need to go away and do something or sleep on it. Maybe you need to go and work in a new environment like a coffee shop.

Some of the common feelings writers have is that all of their ideas are bad or anything they write will be rubbish and won’t get them their dream screenplay deal.

J.K Rowling famously struggled with writing the later Harry Potter books. This was because she was so taken-aback by the success she wondered how she’d ever live up to the expectations created about the future books by the press.

But this is the wrong approach. To shift your mindset, first of all, give yourself a break. Remind yourself that you don’t have to be perfect the first time around or even on your second draft.

Writing a screenplay is not the same as writing an essay for school. You don’t need to get it right the first time around. You have unlimited time to edit, make mistakes, change your mind and get feedback.

If this is your first screenplay there’s no pressure that you even have to submit this one to anyone. This could be a trial run.

With that in mind, liberate yourself and enable yourself to write all of your ideas and dialogue down, even if you think they are bad.

If all else fails here are some strategies to consider.

Write what you know

Everybody has something whether it be their job, lifestyle or experiences that makes them unique. Writing about this can be interesting to people who have not gone through these experiences and you have insider knowledge.

Write what you feel

If you’re feeling angry write your very own murder shower scene ala Hitckock’s Psycho. If you’re feeling sad then consider what is making you sad: perhaps your main character could be heartbroken.

The famous shower sequence from Psycho (1960) in black and white.
Was Hitchcock feeling angry when he devised the infamous shower scene in Psycho?

Quentin Tarantino said:

‘Whatever's going on with me at the time of writing is going to find its way into the piece. If that doesn't happen, then what the hell am I doing? So if I'm writing Inglourious Basterds, and I'm in love with a girl and we break up, that's going to find its way into the piece.’

Write what you want to see on screen

We’ve all been to a movie and wondered what would happen if we changed the ending or if our favorite character didn’t die halfway through. Now’s your chance to bring this to life.

The best way to combat writer's block is to write

The best way to combat writer's block is to write. Write about anything that comes to mind, even if it has nothing to do with your project or topic. How does this make sense?

Basically, the goal of writing is not necessarily to produce quality content (although that would be nice). The primary purpose of the exercise is to put words on paper or in a document—a physical representation of work that you did!

Consistency is the key to success. The more you write, yes, the more mistakes you will make but the more you will learn and the more feedback you will get. You won’t become successful overnight but eventually after months and years of trying you’ll realize the consistency paid off.

Even if what you write isn't good enough for anyone else but yourself and maybe one friend who's willing to look at it, there will still be value in getting some words down on paper.

Even if they're terrible, they’re better than no words at all! And by taking action without waiting around for inspiration or ideas from outside sources like books or articles online, we can overcome any obstacle standing between us and our goals as writers such as writer's block!

Writer’s block for screenwriters is natural

If you are struggling to write your screenplay and think you may have writer's block, don't give up hope! As we've seen, there are many different ways to get past writer’s block for screenwriters.

The most important thing is to keep writing and stay focused on your goal of finishing your script. Don't let anything stop you from getting the job done; if one tactic doesn't work, try another until something does!

Remember if you’re suffering from writer’s block, the Arc Studio team has your back.


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What is Writer's Block?
Harry Verity

Harry is a professional writer. His first novel The Talk Show was published in the U.S and the U.K by Bloodhound Books in 2021 and he is currently working on adapting it for screen using Arc Studio. He's also written for Media Magazine - a UK magazine for students of A-level Film, Media and Television Studies. His journalism has appeared in The Guardian, Readers' Digest and Newsweek, amongst many other publications. He has just finished his second novel for young adults, set in a boarding school. He holds a BA in English from Loughborough University.

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