J.K. Rowling had it. Leo Tolstoy had it. Virginia Wolfe had it.
What was it they had? The dreaded “writer’s block.”
It’s a stumbling stone that can drive even the best writers to the brink of destruction. If these titans experience it, what hope is there for us humble writers?
The truth is there are a variety of techniques that can help us overcome writer’s block. Here are three tricks to keep up your sleeve, so that writer’s block never has its way with you.
1. Just Write
Many times writers feel like they have to create a masterpiece as soon as they sit down to type. Trying to find at the beginning of a project the perfect words and sentences that precisely express your thoughts is an exercise in futility.
Your first drafts are meant to be works in progress, and it’s only over time, through careful editing and reworking the finished product emerges. That’s because our editing brain doesn’t play nice with our creative mind. If you’re trying to do both at the same time, writer’s block will creep in.
So, write without stopping to edit, correct, look up words, check facts, or restructure sentences. Just write, and let your creative brain say what it needs to. Then you can go back and focus on editing exclusively.
2. Create an Outline
The gap between a blank document and a finished product you want can seem more colossal than the Grand Canyon valley. Sometimes giving your brain a place to start or some sort of structure to work with—like an outline—can give you enough creative momentum to start writing again.
At the very least, you may find there’s a part of the assignment that feels more manageable to start with because you already have some knowledge and experience in that area.
3. Space It Out
Content writers sometimes think they need to do it all in one day. They try to research, create an outline, write a draft, and edit one right after the other.
But doing so doesn’t give time for your subconscious to do the work. Sometimes an idea just needs to sit for a while to give your mind time to reflect. You may find that while you’re doing something completely unrelated, like taking a shower or exercising, the right word, phrase or idea pops into your head. It turns out to be just the dose of inspiration you need to get excited about writing again.
If you’ve tried the above tactics and you’re still experiencing writer’s block try some of the following tricks:
- Go write someplace new, a coffee shop you’ve never been, a public park, or get out of town for a “writer’s retreat”
- Eliminate distractions. Lock up your cell phone, turn off or minimize notifications, and close all other browser windows.
- Go do something active away from your screen to clear your mind first like taking a walk, jog, or hike.
- Interview an expert in the topic you’re trying to write about, or connect with them on LinkedIn so you can see the types of things they are posting about.
Do what it takes to beat writer’s block in your own style, it’s a little different for everyone.
Writer’s Block, Be Gone!
Writer’s block can make you break out in a cold sweat as you try to think of words that just won’t come. Techniques like writing without editing, using an outline, and taking breaks between each step of the writing process, can help you get your groove back and your assignments completed on time.