How to Overcome Writer’s Block

eric kim grandma
My grandma / Seoul, 2017

Dear friend,

I wanted to share some “writing hacks” with you:

1. Email technique

Do you spend a lot of time writing emails, either on your laptop or phone?

Try this out: write blog posts by writing emails to yourself.

Another tip, if you write a very in depth and useful email to a friend, ask them if you can publish it to the public. Because a lot of others are probably interested in your information or ideas.

2. Phone texting technique

People say writing is dead. But we “write” more today than ever. The only difference is that we text message like crazy.

Which made me wonder, what if we spent all our time text messaging and instead used that time to write blog posts, to write our novel, to diary or journal, to share our ideas, or to create information?

The best part of this technique: you can do it anywhere. In the bus, train, subway, waiting in line, at the supermarket; anywhere.

2. Letter writing technique

We all have writers block. It is easier to write letters to our friends, especially if we write like we talk.

I learned this technique from my buddy Seneca, who wrote spirited letters to his buddy Lucilius. Each letter Seneca wrote was addressed to Lucilius, but Seneca probably intended to publish his letters publicly, for a wider audience.

I’ve used this technique much as of late. I start off my blog posts with “Dear friend,” and then the words start flowing. I end it by saying “Always, Eric” as a signature.

This feels more authentic and personal to me. And I always have something to write or share.

4. Write like you talk

Nobody has “talkers block.” So write like you talk.

Or if you’re more technologically savvy, use Google Docs to transcribe your speech. Use the microphone in your laptop, and have Google Docs write your speech. Then edit it later.

5. Don’t have a good introduction

My introductions to my blog posts are always generic. But it gets the words flowing.

The genius of Homer is he didn’t seek eloquent introductions to his poems. He just started his poems, and figured them out as he went.

Don’t seek to have a good introduction, and you’ll overcome your writer’s block.

6. Make a pearl necklace

I forget where I learned this idea, but write each paragraph like you’re making it into a pearl. Then you want to “string your pearls together” to make a pearl necklace.

You can do this in different ways. Make a perfect pearl of a word, a sentence, a paragraph, a chapter, a book, or a volume or series.

7. Drink a lot of coffee

I cannot write if I don’t drink coffee. Espresso keeps me going, and stimulates my ideas. You can also substitute coffee with caffeinated tea.

8. Treat today like it were your last

If you knew you were going to die tonight, what would you regret not writing about?

For me, I find it hard to write a book, but easy to write blog posts.

So each day, I write a lot of blog posts, and I schedule them out to automatically publish on my blog in the future. This way, if I die in a car accident or plane crash, my blogs will continue to publish (around once a day) into the future.

Then perhaps someone (else) can compile my blog posts and make a book out of it one day.

9. Don’t write when you (don’t) feel like it

If you force yourself to write against your own will, your words will have no depth or soul.

Don’t force your writing. Like the Taoist Zen philosophers, follow “wu-wei” (non forceful action). You don’t force a river to flow, but it still flows.

You don’t need to write a lot of things. Just write a few things which are meaningful to you. Even the greatest writers in history are only known for one poem, one book, or one novel.

10. Don’t count

Don’t count your word count. That is for suckers.

The more you count your word output, the more you become a slave to numbers. Don’t judge your writing quality by your writing quantity.

The best writers can say much with few words. This the beauty of the poetic (and brief) aphorism or saying.

Some of the best words uttered in history are short and powerful:

  • Know thyself (Oracle at Delphi)
  • The rolling stone gathers no moss (Publilius Syrus)
  • Less, but better (Dieter rams)
  • Innovation is saying no to 1,000 things (Steve Jobs)
  • Borrow from yourself (Cato)
  • Sometimes you need to milk the cow a lot to get a little bit of cheese (Henri Cartier-Bresson)
  • Location, location, location (real estate agents)
  • When in doubt, throw it out (all mothers advice)
  • First, do no harm (Hippocratic oath)

If you want more powerful aphorisms, learn from Publilius Syrus, the master. Nassim Taleb also has a great collection of aphorisms in his “The Bed of Procrustes” book.


As a writer, it is your duty to share your spirited words, ideas, and concepts. Consider your mission as critical in your life.

Don’t procrastinate what’s important to you. But do procrastinate on what isn’t important to you.

Whenever I procrastinate on writing something, I must eliminate it (tip from Nassim Taleb). Because if I didn’t naturally write something, my soul must have not found it important enough to write.

Even this blog post was effortless. I’m sitting on a chair, typing this out on my smartphone, with the “IA writer” app in “focus mode.” I feel a lovely breeze, from the second floor of this lovely cafe in Hanoi. Cindy is across from me, editing some videos.

Oh yeah last tip. Write at caf├ęs to be more productive. You will be inspired by other creative folks, the ambient noise will help you focus, and make sure the espresso is good.

Have faith in yourself, and never forget to always write with your soul.


Really last tip, if you have writer’s block, don’t edit. Write everything first, then edit at the end. I don’t edit any of my writing, besides spell check. If I intend to publish a book, I’ll trust Cindy as my editor.