7 Strategies to Prevent and Overcome Writer’s Block
I have no other elegant way of putting this… writer’s block sucks!
We are all writers even though you may not think of yourself as such.
Most of us are writing a lot of content each week for our businesses. We write for our own site, provide guests posts on other sites, compose regular email copy, tweets, Facebook posts, and the list goes on.
But what happens when you sit in front of your computer faced with a blinking cursor and your mind is as blank as that screen staring back at you?
It usually comes out of nowhere and hits you when you’re on a tight deadline or have limited time dedicated to writing something.
We have all faced it at one time or another but what do you do about it?
Can you use sheer will power to move through it? Perhaps.
Is it better to walk away and start again later? Maybe.
But sometimes you don’t have the luxury to roam the streets or take a leisurely hike awaiting Lady Inspiration to make her grand appearance.
There is no one best answer on how to cure writer’s block but there are plenty of things you can do right now, in your seat, to move through it.
What to do when writer’s block hits:
1 | Keep an ongoing log of ideas
Inspiration for article ideas typically hits us when we’re busy doing other work or reading, perusing, surfing elsewhere.
Use Evernote, Google Docs, Post-It notes, a journal to capture your thoughts and ideas. That way you can peruse your growing list of ideas when you’re feeling blocked and just grab one that stands out.
2 | Just sit there
Sometimes we think we have to have inspiration strike us before we can begin but sometimes we just need to make our own inspiration.
Resist the urge to run away from your desk with the grand notion that “Maybe if I do some laundry, an idea will hit me.” Resistance has clever ways of distracting us – don’t fall for it.
“The art of writing is the art of applying the seat of the pants to the seat of the chair.” – Mary Heaton Vorse
3 | Stop struggling
Pushing, trying, making these happen – this is the strain that comes with struggling again the natural forces.
Close your eyes and quiet your mind for 10 minutes. Most people cannot fully empty their mind unless they fall asleep but by closing your eyes off from visual cues and quieting the fingers from typing, swiping, trolling or texting – you might just hear something.
Further, when you begin to feel stuck, your self-talk constricts you from receiving creative ideas and connections. So by stopping the struggle you can stop the whirl pool of mean inner dialogue.
4 | Stare out the window
Keep that bum in your chair but do a bit of day dreaming.
It’s amazing how looking at nature or a busy street or simply your backyard lawn furniture can spontaneously spark ideas.
5 | Commit to writing for 15 minutes
Even if all you’re writing consists of, “I don’t know what I want to write about… blah blah blah” – sometimes just writing about your stuck-ness or how you have nothing to write about will help open you up.
“My block was due to two overlapping factors: laziness and lack of discipline.” – Mary Garden
6 | Get that Shitty First Draft Out
Anne Lamott has popularized this term which I love. Your first draft isn’t meant to be perfect. It is meant to get the thoughts that are swirling around your head out on paper. If you approach your next writing task as just the shitty first draft you take the pressure off. You find that it’s just you and paper (or screen) learning to dance – stepping on one another toes and having a jolly good laugh.
“Perfectionism is the voice of the oppressor, the enemy of the people. It will keep you cramped and insane your whole life, and it is the main obstacle between you and a shitty first draft. I think perfectionism is based on the obsessive belief that if you run carefully enough, hitting each stepping-stone just right, you won’t have to die. The truth is that you will die anyway and that a lot of people who aren’t even looking at their feet are going to do a whole lot better than you, and have a lot more fun while they’re doing it.” – Anne Lamott
7 | Create Some Discipline
If you write regularly, it’s incredibly useful to create some discipline around the creative process. This creative habit can mitigate some writer’s block (not all of course).
Only you know the best time of day for you to write. For some it’s first thing in the morning while for others it’s after their third cup of coffee and before lunch. Know your rhythms and then block off time each day (or several days each week) to dedicate to your writing. This will help your mind, body and spirit (and your inspiration/muse) to know when it’s time to show up and get to work.
“I only write when I am inspired. Fortunately I am inspired at 9 o’clock every morning.” – William Faulkner
Writer’s block happens to the best of us but with some of these tips and tricks, hopefully you’ll be able to get back on track.
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