Overcoming Writer's Block - Insights

Overcoming Writer’s Block

by NewsCredDecember 4, 2013

By: Dawn Papandrea, NewsCred Contributor

The creative process is such a conundrum. Some days, the ideas just flow and you feel confident that writing is what you were always meant to do. On other days, you feel like a fraud. How did you make it this far when you can’t even get an opening sentence onto your screen? Perhaps it’s late in the day, you’re feeling uninspired, your attention span is that of a squirrel’s — but worst of all, you’re suffering from the dreaded disease called Writer’s Block. 

Don’t worry – it happens to the best of us. How could it not in our multitasking world, with so much competing for our brain’s attention? While you feel a completed blog post, essay, article, or whatever you need to finish (or start) is an insurmountable task, take a deep breath with the knowledge that you know you’ll get it done eventually. You always do, after all!

To speed up the process so the agony of writer’s block doesn’t drag you down for too long, try some of these prose-provoking practices:

Get in the zone. That might mean putting on some noise cancelling headphones and rockin’ out to a favorite playlist, finding a place that offers silence and solitude, or listening to the background noise of a coffee shop. The idea is find an environment that helps you to focus so you can be productive.

Walk away. Sometimes we put too much pressure on ourselves, and end up with the writer’s version of performance anxiety. Whether you’ve been churning out thousands of words for multiple clients, or working on the same project over a span of time, sometimes you need to step away and revisit it (if you’re not under an imminent deadline, of course). Take 15 minutes, or maybe shut it down and try again tomorrow. Looking at something with fresh eyes is also ideal if you’re in the revision stages of your work.

Figure out your optimal writing time. Some people do their best work early in the morning, while others hit their stride in the afternoon, or late at night. If you tend to be most productive at a certain part of the day, block out some time to get down to business.

Set a timer, and reward yourself. It’s easy to get distracted by social media, laundry pileups, pets, or anything other than the masterpiece you’re trying to pen. Force yourself to sit and write for a specified amount of time — in which you won’t check email or load the dishwasher. At the end of the session, take a time out to brew a cup of coffee, go for a jog, walk the pooch, etc. You earned it! Then, refreshed, you’ll be able to dig in once more.

Just write… anything. Even if you feel stuck, and that you’re not putting forth your best work, getting something down will at least help get the creative juices flowing, and before you know it, something brilliant may find its way through.

Get inspired. When the words just aren’t coming, go read a favorite column, blog, or magazine article. Sometimes the work of others can give you a nudge or an idea. Try not to read anything that’s too similar to what you’re working on, however, since you don’t want it to influence your thoughts.

Headlines and outlines. If you’re staring at a blank screen, try not to be consumed with making your word count. Instead, take baby steps by coming up with a headline, and mapping out the sections of the story, or questions you plan to address. Once you do that, it will be broken into manageable chunks.

Check in with Facebook or Twitter. No, this is not a contradiction of the advice above, since you’ll have a mission in mind: To do some brainstorming with friends and followers about your topic. Try something like: “I’m writing about great customer service via social media. Any experiences to share?”  You just may get some responses that can help you dive into the heart of the topic. (Just stay away from Candy Crush while you’re logged in.)

And just like that, despite having to battle through a mild case of blogger’s block, this post is approaching 1000 words! See? The strategies above do work. Give them a try, and you’ll power through your next bout of writer’s block with ease.