How Sherlock Holmes Can Help You Collar And Get Rid Of Writer’s Block

How’s it going? I thought for sure that a lot of writers (and I mean a LOT of them) have explored the topic of writer’s block and how to get over it.

I’d like to talk about it today, but maybe not in a way you’ve heard before. Well, why’s that?

This method was used by an actual literary character to give his brain a break. (And sure, I know “actual” and “literary” may not go together so well).

In The Sign of Four, Sherlock and Watson are trying to find a boat. And then catch that boat. Holmes talks about being annoyed by the whole thing, because he and his contacts had floundered at finding it, up to this point.

And after that is the crux of the whole thing that leads to his breakthrough. Holmes says:

“A change of work is the best rest.”

(Or thereabouts–even though my inner editor is wondering who it was–because the full quote starts with “One of our greatest statesmen has said that a change of work…”).

But anyway, that’s my point for this post–this is a way to let your brain work over a problem that doesn’t involve you doing nothing, and just thinking about things (although that’s a subject for another post, and it does work).

I mean something that you can do that can allow your mind to drift without the quality of your work suffering. For most of us, that’s things like doing the dishes, laundry, or something else that’s menial/manual-type labor. By the way, mowing the lawn is NOT recommended for this–at least not for me. My subconscious goes off like the Fourth of July, and I have no paper, pen, or recorder handy to capture anything.

But it doesn’t have to be dishes or laundry–if you can do something like polishing, staining, cleaning other than dishes, or what-have-ya, and do the job well while your gears are smoothing away the block, that’s fine. And if you can cook and not get ingredients mixed up, go for it.

This is a Decode–that’s because even though fiction writers are known for having this problem, copywriters (writers of emails, sales letters, what-have-ya) have this problem too.

Because writing is writing–it’s just the intent and audience that change (at least that’s how I see things).

So the next time you’re stuck for a subject line, bit of dialogue, a headline, or what-have-ya, put things down, get away from your work space, and go do something else in another part of the house.

Your brain, writing, and to-do list will thank you.

What about you? Have you used this technique before to work through blocks? Or do you have other one(s) you like? Drop me a line in the comments–I’d like to hear your thoughts on this.

Until next time,



About Ty Mall

Thanks for stopping by. I've almost always been interested in writing, among other things. Along with discovering pop culture, I've uncovered a lot about the craft over the past 10 years. And whether you're a fiction writer or email copywriter, I'm here to pass on what I've found out. And have a ton of fun in the process.
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