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How to Overcome Writer’s Block

An inspiring guide to finding your way back to words.

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Read when you’ve got time to spare.

The thing is, sometimes, you have no Words. You had them with you just the other day but you don’t quite know where they went. Did they fall in the seat cushions? Did you drop them somewhere? Maybe they are lost in the wrinkles of your sheets or, perhaps, they are hiding just around the corner. They are always just around the block. I think mine get stuck in the nape of my neck and the crack of my knuckles.

Words hide for many reasons and half the battle is figuring out why they’ve hidden themselves this time. I always have to remind myself of all the ways Words work, why they matter and what they need.

Over the years, I’ve found some reads that help me find Words again. Here’s a few of my favorites.

Image by everything bagel / Getty Images

82 (Or, Smells Like School Spirit)

Alice Oseman
I Know You Think This Newsletter Is About Books

Anna Moraa: “Reading readers who love to read is wonderful, and I don’t think I know a single human who reads more voraciously, generously and consistently than this one. They share simple, honest missives on what they’re reading and I always find a gem of inspiration—be it a new book to consider, an audio book to listen to, or a community to connect with, both online and in Kenya. They remind me how much Words are loved.”

Let’s Tell This Story Properly

Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi

AM: “Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi is one of my favorite writers. She writes stories that feel like the best gossip you’ve heard from the best storyteller you know. Sharp and rich, humorous and empathetic, I fell in love with this short story years ago. I urge you to read everything she has ever written! “Kintu”, her debut novel, is a grand multi-award winning epic and ‘The First Woman’ has an ending so tender, I cry every time I read it. Makumbi always reminds me that what Words care about is story.”

Silence Is a Woman

Wambui Mwangi
The New Inquiry

AM: “This essay changed my life. I don’t know how to summarize it. All I can say is it articulated a pain so intimate I couldn’t understand it. It reminds me that we, Words and I, can be brave, together.”

Especially Heinous: 272 Views of Law & Order SVU

Carmen Maria Machado
The American Reader

AM: “I want to understand what happens in Machado’s brain. Like…what? What?!? How did you get here? How? How do you write a spec-fiction novella about Benson and Stabler using the Law and Order: SVU episode titles as chapter titles and make it this twisty, trippy tale that I promise you cannot predict. The way the story just…goes! It reminds me that anything is possible with Words.”

Politics and the English Language

George Orwell
The Orwell Foundation

AM: “’Modern English, especially written English, is full of bad habits which spread by imitation and which can be avoided if one is willing to take the necessary trouble.’ First published in 1946, criticizing ‘ugly and inaccurate’ written English, it is more than a criticism: it is a manual.”

This Is for My Aunty Penzi Who

Idza Luhumyo
Nipe Story

AM: “Sometimes, the problem is I’ve stared at Words too much! Kevin Mwachiro started this incredible podcast (available everywhere) featuring some of the best short stories written in Kenya, and across Africa. Plus, they are read beautifully. This is from one of my favorite writers, Idza Luhmuyo, one I always go back to when I’m looking for beauty. Nipe Story reminds me that Words just want to be heard.”

Anne Moraa

Anne Moraa is a writer, editor, and crisps connoisseur. She is The ‘M’ in The LAM Sisterhood, an award winning content studio filling the world with stories for African women to feel seen, heard, and beloved.

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