About the Post

Author Information

Creativity coach, writing and creative process instructor, speaker, author of Around the Writer's Block: Using Brain Science to Write the Way You Want (Penguin/Tarcher 2012) and Dancing in the Dragon's Den (Red Wheel Weiser), Teaching Artist at the Loft Literary Center.

Writer’s Block Quiz

Blocked, incubating or hibernating?What’s the difference between writer’s block and Incubation or Hibernation?

Incubation and Hibernation, the third and sixth stages in the creative process, can look and feel an awful lot like writer’s block.

So how you do tell the difference? Take the quiz and find out.

Identify which statements describe writer’s block, Incubation or Hibernation.

  1. You feel frustrated because you want to write, but can’t.
  2. You have so many ideas and so much information rolling around in your head, you don’t know where to begin.
  3. You have nothing, nada, zip. A deer in the headlights has more chance of moving than your fingers on the keyboard. Not an idea in sight.
  4. You feel confused and can’t get your ideas to line up logically.
  5. You feel exhausted whenever you sit down to write.
  6. You know there’s something there, but you just can’t see how the pieces fit together.
  7. You hate to admit it, even to yourself, but you’re not even sure you want to write again.

Make your best guesses before you scroll past Shakespeare for the answers. WB stands for writer’s block, I for Incubation and H for Hibernation.

Blocked, incubating or hibernating? That's the question. And here come the answers.

Blocked, incubating or hibernating? That’s the question. And here come the answers.


  1. WB, I, possibly H;
  2. WB and I;
  3. WB and H;
  4.  WB and I;
  5. WB and H;
  6. WB and I;
  7. WB, H and possibly I

Any and all of those statements can describe writer’s block. And all of those statements describe a legit stage in the creative process.

So How DO You Tell?

The only way to know whether you’re blocked or working through the creative process is to look at what you just did.

  • If you just completed a bunch of research, you’re in Incubation
  • If you just completed a big project, you’re in Hibernation
  • If you can’t remember what you did last or what you remember wasn’t research or completing a project, chances are you’re blocked.

Incubation and Hibernation are often confused with writer’s block because writers don’t recognize that Product Time (aka “writing time”) looks very different when you’re in Incubation or Hibernation than it does when you’re in the other stages.

Incubation and Hibernation are so different, in fact, that many writers don’t recognize what they should do in those two stages as “writing” at all. They unnecessarily, unkindly and just plain wrongly accuse themselves of being lazy, undisciplined, incapable, stupid or blocked.

And if you don’t do what you need to do because it doesn’t look like “writing,” you really can’t move forward. The prophecy self-fulfills.

What should you do when you’re in Incubation and Hibernation? Find out in the next post. Or in my Writing Habit or Discover Your Way Around the Writer’s Block classes at the Loft this fall.

Tags: , , , , ,

No comments yet.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: