Most writers have suffered from the horror of writer’s block at some stage. Today I’m going to share 5 methods I use to beat it.
I was reading a fantastic article this afternoon on copyblogger about how to come up with loads of new content ideas. The article was written by Peter Shallard (check out his blog here) and is well worth a read.
It got me thinking about how I personally deal with writer’s block. As a songwriter, blogger and aspiring author it is something that I’ve had my fair share of over the years and if you write (be it blogs, poems, songs, birthday card messages – anything), you’ll know the feeling only too well; the pain of just staring for hours at a blank page and desperately willing something, anything to pop into your brain. The problem is, the more you try, the harder it becomes and before you know it the day is over and you haven’t managed to come up with so much as a sentence.
Well, as a writer, what can you do to smash through that brick wall in your head and get your creative juices flowing again? Here are a few tips which I use.
1. Make The Most Of Your Creative Days
Most writers that suffer from writer’s block will also have days when the exact opposite happens. Your head is buzzing with ideas and you can’t get them all onto paper quick enough. Make the most of these days by keeping a note of all your ideas and you’ll be able to go back to them on the days when you are stuck.
Personally, I keep a spreadsheet with article titles and a few notes on what my ideas are, but you can use a good old fashioned notepad and pen, post it notes, a dictaphone or tattoo them on your body… whatever works for you!
Sometimes an idea will come to me when I’m busy doing something else, so I’ll always make sure to jot it down for adding into my spreadsheet later. I just pop a note into my iPhone or email it to myself. Even if you don’t think the idea is your best ever, or seems a little half baked, add it anyway as it may spark something in the future when you are struggling.
2. Just Write Something
One thing’s for sure, if you don’t start writing you’ll never get through your block. On your creative days a blank page is a beautiful thing, but when you are suffering from writer’s block it can be an intimidating site and the very thing that is holding you back. So just write!
Pick an idea and start writing about it, even if you think it is a load of rubbish. Once I start the process of writing and the scary blank page is gone, I often find that other spin off ideas come from what I am writing and before I know it the mental block is gone and a great topic and article has evolved from what started out as waffle. This really works for me, so try it next time you are stuck.
3. Get Inspired
If you are still struggling to find a great idea, then seek inspiration from others. Read a newspaper, turn on the radio, or go online and read some of your favourite blogs. You’ll be sure to find some interesting topics and ideas that you can write about. While you are at it comment on some blog posts which you have enjoyed reading (leaving an insightful comment) – there, you’ve just broken your writers block!
4. Take A Break
The longer you sit and stare at that blank page the harder it can become to write, so if you’ve tried everything above and still find that nothing is coming, then take a break for a while. I find that going for a walk and getting some fresh air or just making myself a nice cup of tea (with an optional jaffa cake) can get the creative juices flowing again and it’s often the case that when you stop trying to think up ideas one will just magically pop into your head.
5. Don’t Beat Yourself Up
Sometimes, no matter what you do you are just not going to be able to write. Don’t panic, it happens to everyone. Shrug it off and forget about it for the day, knowing you can pick up again the next day after a good night’s sleep. If you put pressure on yourself to write then the brick wall can last for days, weeks, months even. Relax, you’ve had great ideas before and you’re sure to have them again.
The one obvious exception to this is if you are working to a strict deadline, but with this in mind never leave your writing to the last minute as that can be a major cause of block. When you have a deadline start planning your article out at least a few days before you need to write it – so by the time you start writing you know exactly what structure the article will take and it is pretty much a case of filling in the content. Actually, that gives me an idea for a future article on how to structure your articles to make them easy to write!
So, that’s 5 tips I use to get over writer’s block. Hopefully you will find them helpful the next time you are struggling to write.
If you have any questions, feedback or would like to add your own tips then please leave me a comment below. We also have a video version of this article on our new youtube channel. Check it out below!