Sitting, staring at a screen, and struggling to turn your inspiration into results? We've all been there. To help you get past it, here are 7 strategies to help you overcome writer's block.
It happens to us all. No matter if we’re writing an email, a tweet, an eBook, or just about anything in between, the words just aren’t there. And there’s nothing more frustrating and stressful than having a looming deadline and a blank screen staring back at us. If you work as a freelancer, you may particularly understand this struggle, because well.. If you don’t write, you’re probably not going to get paid. And the threat of having to live off corn flakes and potatoes because you couldn’t write a blog post can be pretty threatening.
BUT thankfully, regardless of whether or not you are a freelancer, there are a number of strategies that you can implement to help you get past the block and produce that gorgeous piece of writing that is trapped within the confines of your mind. And if you ARE a freelancer, well you can just get a little more creative in the environment in which you apply them; which can sometimes can be enough by itself.
So today, we present to you 7 of my favorite strategies for overcoming the walls to your writing.
Seriously. Get up, go for a run (my personal recommendation) and listen to some upbeat music. This method is particularly effective if you find a bit of depression and negativity clouding your judgement and making you feel as though you can’t do it. Follow it up with your favorite iced coffee and a clean desk and you’re well on your way to an improved beginning - all thanks to those little endorphins that are now making you feel as though you could conquer the world.
Bonus tip: The idea here is to get you active. If this means cleaning, swimming, biking, riding a horse or climbing a tree, it doesn’t matter - just do something other than staring at a blank screen and stressing about it.
2. Write ANYTHING
We all already know how much easier it is to edit than it is to write from scratch, so set a timer for say, 5 or 10 minutes, and then just start writing about your topic. Don’t stop for spelling or grammatical errors. Don’t obsess about the content (though do try to stay on topic of course). And after your timer is up, you have two choices:
- Maintain the ‘flow’ and keep writing
- Edit what you’ve got so far
Which one of these you choose will depend fully on your personal working style, the topic you’re writing about, and generally how you’re feeling after the time is up.
If you’re unsure of the tone of your piece, read something already written by your client or by someone who is an expert on the topic. This can help you to get in the rhythm and into “their” mindset instead of your own; which oftentimes can be just the boost you need to ‘fake it until you make it’. Feeling a little unsure of yourself? Read a piece of your own that got great feedback and use it to help give you a much needed confidence boost (you can do it!!).
4. Discuss it
Have a trusted friend or even a colleague that has a sympathetic ear, or better yet, some understanding of the topic you’re writing about? Talk to them about it. You’ll be pleasantly surprised how much easier the words can come to you when you’re going about it in a more collaborative manner. Plus, they may have ideas and perspectives that you hadn’t considered before - giving you an entirely new inspiration to get going.
For me, if there are words, it’s going to be a distraction, but your mileage may vary here. I find classical piano, Spanish guitar or chillout trance to be most effective, but experiment with your choice of music at different times of the writing process and you might have something of a “pavlov’s dogs” effect, whereby when you hear a certain style of music, it gets your creativity flowing automatically.
6. Write ‘backwards’
Do you always start with your introduction and write from there? Try starting with your conclusion. Or with a certain part that you feel stronger about. This can be particularly effective if you are writing a long form piece that follows a clear structure as it can immediately give you a sense of achievement and help you to find a flow. Remember, you can always come back to the introduction! It’s not going anywhere ;)
It’s been shown by our good friends at Harvard that the places that have the highest chocolate consumption have the most Nobel Peace recipients. Coincidence? I think not. I won’t get into the deep science of it (mostly because I am a writer, and thankfully, not a scientist), but in a nutshell, it makes your brain work better. And it tastes good. And the worst thing that can happen is that you ate some chocolate.
So there you have it, 7 of my favorite tips to help you break past that writer’s block that may be haunting you. Do you have another method that you find to be truly effective? Tell us about it in the comments below!