I’ve said it before, writer’s block is a myth. It’s simply the fear that you’re going to write something horrible. Or in other cases, laziness.
Yes, that’s a bold statement.
But if you’re a creative, and you’ve been at it for a while, you realize that it’s not a lack of ideas that keeps you from writing. You simply get stuck over how to articulate those ideas on paper (so-to-speak).
Well, here’s a few ideas for how to get un-stuck… It’s a list of the things that I do to unplug and reconnect to get my writing back on track.
15 Ways To Beat Writer’s Block:
- Take a break. Meaning stop what you’re doing, and just step away from the computer. Put the pen and paper down, and just do something else. Or sit still. Really, this is more relaxing and refreshing that you might think.
- Go for a walk. Most days, I try and go for a walk to get some sun around noon or 1:00pm. When you do creative work behind the computer all day, this is totally refreshing.
- Go for a run (get some exercise, period). I like to go to the gym every weekday. I either do 2-3 miles on the treadmill, or swim laps in the pool for 45 minutes. It gets my heart pumping and ideas flowing. Not sure why, but it does. Some people sit and meditate. I beat myself up at the gym. And that works (for me at least).
- Change your environment. When you’re stuck, you’re stuck. The best way to get un-stuck is to change up your environment. For me, that means writing at the cafe. The change in environment is a nice break from the norm.
- Look at pictures. When I don’t know what to write, I browse through Flickr or the Gapinvoid art gallery for inspiration.
- Just write. About anything. Nothing specific, just whatever comes to mind. You know, free writing.
- Read. Stephen King suggests, “when you can’t write, read.” You learn by reading. You get inspired by reading. So when you can’t write read.
- Browse through a magazine. Copyblogger calls this the Cosmo Guide to Writing Great Headlines. When you’re stuck on what to write, pick up a magazine and browse through the headlines in search of inspiration for new topics to write about.
- Listen to a podcast. I like listening to episodes from Internet Marketing for Smart People for example. I listen to several podcasts while I’m driving or while I’m at the gym and most Friday mornings. Really, it’s like my own private mastermind. Sure, there’s no conversation back and forth, but it keeps me current and it gives me new things to talk about.
- Watch TED videos. Nothing more inspiring than a good, motivational TED video. Sometimes, that’s all the inspiration you need to get going.
- Listen to music. Techno tunes from Benny Benassi or other related stations on Pandora are my favorite. As long as it’s music without any lyrics, I’m good to go. Somehow, it gets me feeling creative. It cuts drones the rest of the noise around me out so I can focus on what I’m writing.
- Go grab some coffee. Every morning, I spend the first couple of hours at the computer working on Forum replies and trying to write/edit/publish a post for the day. When I get stuck, it’s usually because I need to let the post sit and re-approach it with a fresh perspective. I do that by heading out for a cup of coffee. This way, when I get back, I can approach my work with a fresh set of eyes.
- Print your words and read them out-loud. When I get stuck over what to write about, it’s not for a lack of words. But rather, I’m not quite sure how to articulate what’s in my head. So the best way to get my thoughts out on paper is to read them out-loud. So I print out a copy of my post and pace around the conference room editing my printed copy and then return to apply and publish my edits.
- Keep a swipe file for storing ideas. I use a Moleskine notebook to write potential post titles throughout the day. Whenever I think of something to write about next, I jot it down in my notebook. Then, once a day, I dig through my note book, pick a few titles and write out a few outlines before writing out the full post. Carrying a swipe file like this keeps you from going on a dry spell.
- Reverse engineer your post. The way a mechanic breaks apart an engine to learn how it works inside. Rather than writing your post from start to finish, start with the end in mind. What’s the post about? What action do you want readers to take? Start constructing an outline first. Find a picture to complement your post. Once you have all of those parts put together, then start writing your post. The writing, comes last in this case. After you’ve outlined and put all of the pieces together.
How do you do it? What are your tips for beating writer’s block? Do you ever have a hard time writing?
Twyla Tharp, author of The Creative Habit, suggests that it’s not the writing that’s difficult, it’s the getting started. And I have to agree. A lot of what writing is, is sitting there and thinking. Then putting those thoughts down on paper.
Sometimes, you spend a longer time thinking, than writing, but that’s part of the process. What I’d like to discuss, is what activities you do or routines you undergo to spark the writing process…
What say you?
[Photo Credit: Hugh MacLeod, GapingVoid.com]