Writer’s block? Here’s how to beat it
Ironically, I had writer’s block while writing this blog post. See? It can happen to anyone.
Knowing how to overcome writer’s block is a useful skill for any writer, whether you write books, marketing copy, or even just a personal journal. Writer’s block takes all the fun out of writing, so we’ve put together a few tips for getting the words out.
First, let’s learn more about what writer’s block really is
Writer’s block is simply a creative block specifically related to writing. You can’t get the words out or can’t find the right ones. A clinical psychology study from the 1970s found four main causes of most cases of writer’s block.
1. Too much self-criticism (nothing is good enough)
2. Fear that people are comparing you to other writers
3. No external motivation (attention, encouragement, admiration)
4. No internal motivation (a longing to tell a story)
Next, let’s identify the cause and then overcome writer’s block
Now to share the best tips for defeating writer’s block. These are the ones that I, in my career as a writer, have personally found to be effective.
Create a routine. Don’t be tempted to write only when you feel “creative.” The more you write, the easier the words will come.
Don’t worry about getting the words right. Just write whatever comes to you, even if it’s not exactly what you want to say. You can go back and fix it later.
Do a creative activity that is not writing. Observing someone else’s work can help get the creative juices flowing. (I find museums and movies to be the most helpful at sparking ideas.)
Switch projects. Sometimes the block only applies to one particular project, so try writing something else for a while. It could even be a creative writing exercise or a short story.
Aim for progress, not perfection. In the words of Voltaire, “perfect is the enemy of good.” So, don’t worry about being perfect. Remember, harsh self-criticism is the #1 cause of writer’s block!
Start anywhere! You don’t need to write “in order.” It’s OK to start in the middle, or even at the end.
Change something. It could be your location, or even just your writing tool. Sometimes writer’s block strikes when typing and can be fixed when you start writing by hand, or vice versa.
Write an outline. This can help free up the ideas that you need to turn an outline into a manuscript. It can even be a more visual outline, like a mind map.
Don’t write to please your readers. Understandably, if you’re trying to write for a market, this is a hard tip to follow. But writing for yourself can make the words flow much easier.
Prevent distraction, especially on a computer. Apps can help you avoid getting sidetracked by the Internet. For example, Cold Turkey is an app that blocks everything but writing until you hit your word goal.
Move your body. Yoga, Tai Chi, or running can all help creativity flow. If sweating isn’t your thing, try going for a walk.
Get up early. The early morning is the best time for writing because your brain is still in dream mode. I often feel that writing comes easier just after I wake up.
If all else fails, do what I did. Write about writer’s block. The more you know about it, the easier it will seem to defeat. Or you can always hire an amazing copy team to take the weight off your shoulders. Luckily, we have one of those. Email firstname.lastname@example.org or call (914) 607-7888 to learn more about how we can find the right words for you. We never let writer’s block keep us down.