Writer’s block creeps up on us all at one point or another. Here, I’ll share a few tips on how to break writer’s block and get your masterpiece done!
You know the feeling. You’re staring at the screen… the minutes have stretched into hours and only one paragraph… the ideas just are not flowing… It’s 3:00am, can’t think anymore. It’s bedtime!
Enemy number one:
I’ve used term many times to describe a state of inaction resulting from being caught up in over analyzing what you’re trying to write. Is this right? What about…? Maybe I should… I woulda, shoulda, coulda, if only ida… Yes, but… it has to be just right…
Too often, we set so many expectations of what it should be and overlook what it can become by trying to force a project we’re working on to conform to this expectation.
What’s the best way out of this trap?
This is the best Rx in my opinion and most often all I need to do. Just pretend that there is nothing blocking you and type away. Don’t stop to analyze or ponder. No expectations. Just keep on moving! The ideas will come. Before you know it you’ll have a page full of content.
It may not be pretty, but it will be something to get you going. You can always come back later to polish it up. But the important thing now is to get it on paper (or the digital equivalent thereof).
It does not have to be done all in one sitting. Whip an initial draft together. Take a break and come back to it later. You’ll add to it and revise it. After a few cycles of this you’ll have something taking shape – usually better than expected.
As well as writing, speak ideas into a voice recorder as they come along. Smartphones today have built in apps that let you record voice notes and videos. I loved my trusty pocket micro-cassette recorder from the 1980’s.
Speaking words exercises different parts of the brain and can stimulate ideas that you can write down later. Ideas that might not materialize by writing alone.
Draw out ideas on a whiteboard or sketchbook. This stimulates yet other areas of the brain. Like spoken words, you can transcribe these to paper later. I like to use Evernote on my Mac and iOS devices. The note feature lets you capture stuff in writing, audio/video or drawings – very handy.
This online infographic builder, Easel.ly, is a fun way to build ideas – and create great visual content to go with your writing, too.
Take a Break
This often is what you really need. Get away from the computer. Go for a long walk and get some fresh air. It works wonders for me.
When I find myself getting stuck on a task. I’ll get up walk about for a bit and try again. If I still feel stuck, then I’ll do something else for awhile – work on an electronics project (I’ve been building electronic projects since I was a kid). Or, I’ll take a long walk, eat out, etc.
As a roller coaster and theme park enthusiast, I enjoy spending a day at a theme park riding roller coasters. That gets the blood and the ideas flowing. Do anything that will get the circulation going, too. Perhaps, indulge yourself in a massage?
When I return, I usually have lots of fresh ideas and can proceed with my writing.
What Are You Passionate About?
You’re unlikely to ever have “writer’s block” when you’re engaged with a subject that you absolutely love. You know, that one thing you can’t stop taking about. Your niche!
If you are on a roll doing whatever it is you love doing, and ideas come in – write ’em down! Or, record them on your smartphone. Take a photo or video.
Restructure Your Outline
This has helped me a lot. Changing up my outline helped stimulate fresh ideas and the gears turning again. Rethink what you’re writing about and look at it from different perspectives. Build up a few outlines from these and pick what works best.
Find your Zen Zone! Silence the phone, turn off notifications and other pesky things on your computer, find a quiet place and focus on your task of writing.
Consider using a writing app designed for distraction-free writing. These are many apps out there that give you just a clean empty full-screen space for writing. No menus, no “autocorrect” or nagging squiggly lines, or “assistants” popping up. Just a no bullshit place to write and save your work.
Write Under Pressure!
Sometimes we work best under pressure! Set a time limit and see how many words you can crank out in a half hour. In fact, if you really want to challenge yourself to keep moving, check out “The Most Dangerous Writing App” for web, or FlowState for Mac and iOS. These apps will mercilessly delete everything you’ve written of you stop for more than 5 seconds! Yes, you lose it all and go back to square one if you stop. How is that for a kick in the butt to keep writing! Consider it Ex Lax for Writer’s Block.
The quality of foods you eat and drink will also affect your mood, ability to focus and write. I certainly find myself a little slow after eating a large meal – the notorious “food coma”. Eating lightly and eating mostly fresh fruits, nuts and “superfoods” gives me consistent energy and clarity throughout the day with no ups and downs. Sugary, high carbohydrate, over-processed foods and red meat are best avoided. Avoid relying on too many stimulants like caffeine (as a coffee lover, I’m guilty as charged). These may give a surge but may be followed by a down period.
Our bodies are different, so choose what works best for you.
There is a brick ton of useful tools out there – way more than I can list here. So, I’ll share a few I have used and find useful.
Evernote (web, Mac and iOS) Evernote is one of my favorites for all around note jotting.
And if you’re feeling bold:
I hope you’ve enjoyed my two bits on unblocking your creative writing. Feel free to ask questions or comment below!