THE BLOG
01/29/2015 03:13 pm ET Updated Mar 31, 2015

Famous Writers Share How They Handle Writer's Block

During her lifetime, Maya Angelou, the great author and poet, was nominated for a Pulitzer, awarded the National Medal of Arts, given over fifty honorary degrees and wrote the acclaimed memoir I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings. And yet, Angelou, like countless other famous writers, experienced periods of writer's block. How did Angelou handle being stuck? As she once explained, "What I try to do is write. I may write for two weeks 'the cat sat on the mat, that is that, not a rat.' And it might be just the most boring and awful stuff. But I try," said Angelou. "When I'm writing, I write. And then it's as if the muse is convinced that I'm serious and says, 'Okay. Okay. I'll come.'"

And what are some other practical ways to combat writer's block? Writing experts at takelessons.com recommend sometimes stepping away from your work. More often abandoning ship is the best bet for getting past major writer's block. The website which connects students with a variety of diverse expert teachers in a multitude of fields also suggests practicing 15-20 minutes of totally random, uncensored writing to get your thoughts out without paying attention to grammar and punctuation. Also, they note that exercise, even getting up and doing a quick dance to a song on the radio, will help relax a frazzled mind and encourage ideas to flow.

Jason Rekulak, author of The Writer's Block: 786 Ideas to Jump-Start Your Imagination, suggests a multitude of ways to cure being stuck. Rekulak advises that people should find opportunities to stretch their imagination. He asks students to write about "ten minutes that still make you cringe," or "chronicle the longest amount of time you've ever gone without sleeping," or recount "the biggest secret that you failed to keep."

And if that's not enough inspiration, these famous writers offer their guidance.

"I learned to produce whether I wanted to or not. It would be easy to say oh, I have writer's block, oh, I have to wait for my muse. I don't. Chain that muse to your desk and get the job done." -- Barbara Kingsolver

"Being a real writer means being able to do the work on a bad day." -- Norman Mailer

"The secret to getting ahead is getting started." -- Mark Twain.

"If I waited till I felt like writing, I'd never write at all." -- Anne Tyler

"Don't get it right, just get it written." -- James Thurber

"The one ironclad rule is that I have to try. I have to walk into my writing room and pick up my pen every weekday morning." -- Anne Tyler

"Get it down. Take chances. It may be bad, but it's the only way you can do anything really good." -- William Faulkner

"Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better." -- Samuel Beckett

"If I waited for perfection, I would never write a word." -- Margaret Atwood

"Writing is 90 percent procrastination: reading magazines, eating cereal out of the box, watching infomercials. It's a matter of doing everything you can to avoid writing, until it is about four in the morning and you reach the point where you have to write." -- Paul Rudnick