The Writing Center



Not everyone suffers from writer’s block, but when it does occur, most of us do not know what to do. The ideas that follow are adapted from the work of psychologist Otto Rank. Rank believed that artistic creation—including academic work—was one of the most intense experiences in life. He advised many artists and created poems and plays himself. Here are 4 areas that Rank believed caused people to get stuck in their projects.


If you could picture yourself less emotionally involved with your project, what small steps would you be taking right now?

Resolving Conflicts

Are there conflicts you are experiencing now at the following levels that need to be resolved?

  • Personality
  • The medium (e.g. language) you are using to create
  • Family
  • Culture
  • Your training in the area you want to create in

Rank believed artists came into conflict at multiple levels of their lives but needed to resolve these conflicts in order to create. Can you get help resolving any conflicts you face?

Other Projects

Is there another project you can turn to now—and then return to the one you’re stuck on? It helps if the 2nd project is in another medium (e.g. music, dance).

Putting Your Life First

Is there some aspect of your life that you’re not taking care of because of this writing project? Rank advised putting your personality and life first and the art second. He advised honoring your life responsibilities before artwork.


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