Eight ways to beat writer’s block
Everything’s in place. The desk is organised, your pencils are sharpened, the distractions are distracted. Enter stage left, writer’s block. Now what? How do you beat writer's block?
If you need to resurrect your creative mojo, here are eight weapons to add to your arsenal.
1. Step away from the keyboard
It’s unlikely creativity will strike while your fingers are poised over the keys. To beat writer’s block, step away from the computer and take yourself to a new environment, whether it’s another area of your workspace, a café or a library.
No matter how tidy and organised my desk is, it doesn’t provide me with the same creative stimulation as new surroundings. Try it, you might be pleasantly surprised!
2. Use inspiring materials
Colours unleash creativity, so arm yourself with gorgeous coloured pens and fresh, white paper or a tactile notebook.
And keep a hoard of little journals stashed around the house or office so you’ve always got one nearby when a fabulous idea appears out of nowhere. I’m addicted to Moleskine journals; they hide in all sorts of nooks, ready to be summonsed at a moment’s notice.
"The key is to give your conscious brain a break while your unconscious brain weaves its magic."
3. Sketch your outline first
Sketching a simple outline makes the act of writing a fill-in-the-blanks exercise – which is highly preferable to staring blankly at a blank page.
The outline doesn’t need to be sophisticated. My quick outline consists of a bunch of boxes, each representing a single theme. I put the boxes in order, then write my conclusion and introduction. Bingo, there’s my structure!
4. Don’t write in order
Although we habitually start at the beginning, don’t feel like you have to. I start writing the easiest part first, just to get the words flowing. It’s much easier to maintain momentum than it is to get it started.
Want more articles like this? Check out the communication skills section.
5. Pretend you’re having a chat
Rather than writing with somebody reading your piece in mind, pretend someone has asked you about the topic you’re writing on. How would you answer their question?
Speak your answer out aloud. You might feel silly at first, but the answer will roll off your tongue. Guess what? You’ve just written your first few sentences, with minimum effort!
I find this is a great way to stick with plain English, because it helps to eliminate the flowery words we tend to use when we become stuck.
6. Don’t edit as you write
As tempting as it is, editing as you write interrupts your natural flow. You’ll have plenty of time to edit once your draft is in place.
7. Allow time
Don’t leave your writing to the eleventh hour – but don’t give yourself an infinite amount of time either. Writing too close to a deadline will leave you stressed and panicked, but give yourself too much time and you’re likely to procrastinate.
Use little snippets of time to jot down your ideas. This article was sketched within a 10-minute timeframe: I was early to a coffee meeting, so out came the trusty Moleskine, and away I went!
Sometimes no matter what you do, you remain stuck. So stop. Sometimes trying too hard to achieve your goals is simply counter-productive.
Remove yourself from the situation and do something completely different.
The key is to give your conscious brain a break while your unconscious brain weaves its magic. Soon your mojo will be back with a vengeance.
So what do you do to beat writer’s block? Let’s share our tips and build our arsenals!