Q: How do you deal with writer’s block?

Drawing a comic every day can be tricky, so I’ve got a few different tricks that I use for dealing with writer’s block…

1. Take a break.
When I have trouble coming up with ideas, I find that the best thing to do is to stop trying to come up with ideas. I take a break and do something that occupies my brain with some other task. TV and video game breaks don’t seem to help me. It works better if I go for a walk or do a sudoku/crossword puzzle. Something that isn’t creative but keeps my mind going. Quite often, I’ll get an idea after just a few minutes of not trying to get an idea!

Out for a walk, looking for cyborg porcupines in the trees.

2. Random words.
Another thing that I use to get out of writer’s block: random word exercises. I’ll use one of those online random word generators, or maybe even just click the Random button on my own website, and then brainstorm about a word for five minutes to see if anything funny shows up. Sometimes I scribble drawings and ideas associated with the word. Sometimes I’ll draw a mindmap around the word. If nothing happens after five minutes, I’ll generate another word and try again. Sometimes two random words is better, because a lot of funny ideas come from bringing two random things together.

Here’s a mindmap I drew, riffing on the topic of bears.

3. Doodling.
Just start drawing. Don’t let your pen stop moving for five minutes. Fill a sketchbook page. See what happens! Long ago, before Savage Chickens, I would deal with writer’s block by drawing a page full of chickens. Chicken after chicken after chicken, and you start to zone out and that’s when the ideas crop up.

Sketchbook page
A random doodle page from my sketchbook.

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6 thoughts on “Q: How do you deal with writer’s block?

  • July 18, 2016 at 1:11 pm

    These are great ideas! I’m always impressed by how you keep coming up with funny comics day after day.

    • August 10, 2016 at 3:09 am

      Thanks Karen!

  • July 18, 2016 at 7:20 pm

    Love the doodling idea, in particular.

    I write fiction, so my best way to get the muse moving is to come up with a question (about the character, or situation, or whatever) and go for a walk and either zone or muse one the question. Just the movement seems to get things going again. I think questions are particularly helpful because my brain seems to want to find an answer. If my mind is entirely blank at the start, my brain seems to have a harder time. Maybe I should try the random words as well. Might be interesting to see what pops up.


    • August 10, 2016 at 3:12 am

      Ooh I like that question idea, Kieran – I’ll have to give that a try – thanks!


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