Writer’s block happens to us all at one point or another. You know the feeling…
You’re all excited about writing an article, report, or ebook. You open up a fresh document on your device, or grab your notepad and favorite pen if you still do things the old-fashioned way. You’ve got a title and a vague idea, maybe an awesome opening sentence. And then…
It feels like your brain shuts down. Suddenly you find yourself just staring at a nearly blank page or screen. The words don’t come. And then the panic sets in… The deadline looms, and you’ve got nothing. How do you fix it?
I have a few ideas on that…
Here are 5 tips for overcoming writer’s block
Tip #1 –
Change the scenery
Sometimes you get stuck simply because you’re tired of looking at the same four walls, the same computer screen, etc. We talked yesterday about how your environment can affect your creativity.
Here are a few ways to kick start your creativity and give your brain a change of scenery.
- Put on music that inspires you.
- Get out of your usual office and go someplace completely different, like a park or a coffee shop.
- Spend 15-30 minutes doing something different, such as exercising (which will make you feel better).
Tip #2 –
Copy a good piece of text
This is a way to force your brain to get in the “groove” of writing well. Simply take a passage from one of your favorite authors and start copying it by hand. You can also copy poetry, good sales letters, or anything else that’s well-written.
Naturally, you’re not using this content for anything. You’re just jump starting your own creative process by really thinking about someone else’s well-written piece.
Note: If you're writing marketing materials such as sales letters, blog posts, etc. use this even when you're not feeling blocked. One of the first lessons I learned for copywriting is the literally sit down with a pen and paper and copy out successful sales letters by hand in order to understand the process and flow of creating sales copy.
Tip #3 –
Do some freewriting
Another way to get over writer’s block is to just start writing anything that pops into your head. If all you can think of is this week’s grocery list, start with that.
Personally, I love Julia Cameron’s “morning pages” process. Start your day by writing 3 pages of whatever comes into your mind, and you’ll find that you’ve got enough of something to work with for the rest of the day.
If you have to start off writing, “I don’t know what to write” two dozen times across the top of the page, fine. But the point is, just get your fingers moving across the keyboard. After about 20 minutes, your mental “log jam” should be broken up and your creativity released.
Tip #4 –
Write something on another topic
Sometimes it helps to write about something else that isn’t even remotely related to the thing that you need to write about.
So if you need to write an article about weight loss, you can start by writing an article about gardening. Or if you need to create a blogging article, then write a story about how something you did in high school.
Again, this is just a way to loosen up your creativity and get those fingers moving across the keyboard. Once you go back to focusing on the piece you do need to write, it will likely go much more smoothly.
Tip #5 –
Create an outline
We’re not all able to sit down and fire off an article or create an e-book completely off the top of our heads. The one thing we do have when we’re setting out to write is an idea of what we want to write about. This is where an outline comes in handy.
If you’re tired of staring at a blank page, start by writing down what you want to write about. One word is fine. Then build on that one word until you have a list of topics you want to cover.
As you start building out your list, you’ll find yourself adding more and more detail until… wait for it…
You’re writing complete sentences and have a rough draft of your article done!
Bonus Tip #6 –
Start in the middle
For many people, the introduction is often the hardest part to write. That’s because you use it to give a sneak peek at what the rest of the article, report or e-book is about. But if you haven’t yet written the rest of the content piece, then it’s easy to get stuck on the introduction.
If that’s you, here’s a simple solution:
Start in the middle.
Just skip the intro and go straight to the next paragraph or the first chapter. Then you can do the introduction last, which makes it much easier since now you know exactly what all topics you covered in the rest of the piece.
Every writer gets the dreaded writer’s block from time to time. Don’t beat yourself up over it, and don’t let it slow you down. When you find yourself staring a blank page, just grab one of these tips and start working your way through it. I’m betting you’ll find your writer’s block doesn’t last long once you start taking steps to push it out of the way.