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Mark O'Neill

90% of what I do is daydreaming. The rest is typing.

man sitting at desk in front of macbook

Writers block? There’s no such thing

Writers block doesn't really exist. So why can't you start writing?

Writers block is a myth – period. Instead, let’s see it for what it really is.

It’s when you are putting yourself in circumstances that do not help your brain to focus on the work.

My current book manuscript has been worked on for the past three years. The fact it isn’t finished yet isn’t due to sitting at the computer and not knowing what to write. I’m not sitting there thinking “oh, if only this damn writers block would clear!”

Instead, it’s because life circumstances are getting in the way. Unless you choose to be a monk and live in a monastery, this is an inescapable part of life.

The day job. Covid. Family issues. I wasn’t able to write any of my book for three months because of the stress involved in moving to a new home.

That’s not “writers block.” That’s just life.

My brain is not in an optimised environment where the words can flow freely, due to my surroundings and circumstances. That’s the “block” – if you want to call it that.

Priorities are everything

writers block man, woman and child holding hands on seashore

You have to prioritise what’s important to you – and your day job (to pay the bills, feed yourself, and keep a roof over your head), your health, and your family should always come first. The writing comes second when all your more important priorities have all been taken care of. Unless of course the writing is the day job, in which case, this doesn’t apply.

So don’t beat yourself up if you’re unable to write as much as you want to. Deal with the more pressing priorities first – the words will then follow because your brain will be able to relax more, knowing the other stuff is gone.

Trust me, I’m talking from experience. Don’t insult your brain by calling the syndrome ‘writers block’. The fact is, you’re only human. You can’t do everything at once. Don’t even try.


I’m having trouble figuring out how to develop my book. Isn’t that writers block?

It could be seen by some as such. I don’t however. If I have trouble figuring out the next stage of the story, then it’s a temporary difficulty which will eventually resolve itself once you have figured it out. Splitting hairs? Not to me, but you may think differently.

What are some of the ways to solve not knowing how to proceed in my book?

The best method is usually to take a break. Sleep on it, or if it’s too early to sleep, go for a walk. Fresh air always wakes my brain up and makes me see things in a new light. Having a bath also works for me, as well as reading other books in your genre. A last-ditch option is simply to start writing, even if the result is an unusable load of gibberish. Merely starting to write kick-starts the process.

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Mark O'Neill

Mark O'Neill

Mark O'Neill is a bestselling award-winning self-published author of the Department 89 spy thriller series. He has also written two other series - The Scorpion and The Undertaker. His books have been translated into German and partly into Spanish. Mark lives in Germany with his wife and dog.

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