Trying to learn how to overcome writer’s block? Try these tips to kickstart your creativity
Oh, writer’s block, my old friend – or should I say, enemy?
I have struggled for years with writer’s block. I complain to my co-authors about how hard I try, but the inspiration is still not there. I can’t write anything. I spend so much time complaining about my lack of inspiration and wondering how to overcome writer’s block, so that I can easily write a few novels if I’m not so focused on being “blocked”.
Let’s be honest for a second. Writer’s block is – in many ways – a big fat excuse.
It’s easier to complain about not being able to write than to sit down and write for a lack of motivation. I’ve found for me that often writer’s inhibitions stem from fear – that people won’t like my writing or that I won’t own anything. urgent to say. It’s much easier to use the excuse that I can not write, versus challenging yourself just to do it.
There’s a great quote from Roger Simon that sums up my feelings on writer’s block:
“Why should I get writer’s block? My father was never blocked by a truck driver.”
Before, when people told me that writer’s block wasn’t real, I was very frustrated. “Well, maybe for you,” I thought, “but not for me. I’m really stuck!” I tried what felt like everything to get out of the writing rut I was in. One of my favorite practices is reading books on the craft of writing. I will take notes and feel motivated and ready to start writing.
One day, while rereading Anne Lamott’s favorite book, Bird by BirdI was impressed by his suggestion that writers should commit to writing a bad first draft.
“For me and most of the other writers I know, writing is not exciting. In fact, the only way I could ever write anything was to write a really bad first draft.” – Anne Lamott, Bird by Bird
At first, I thought this was funny writing advice. Sure, no first draft was that great, but is this woman actually suggest I practice pure garbage writing when I need to come up with awesome ideas?
Yes, he suggested it. And guess what? Succeed. A bad first draft is my way of finishing any piece of writing. This post started off as an annoying first draft, where all I have left are a few quotes I want to share and a small list of how to get around writer’s block. It’s not pretty. Whenever a thought popped into my head, I would put it in here, and eventually, the whole concept popped up. I edited it a bit and – BAM – the final draft appeared. [Tweet “Beat your writer’s block with a shitty first draft. It’s cool, promise.”]
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A bad first draft might work for you. They may not. If you’re not sure how to dig yourself out of your writer’s block hole, try these suggestions:
How to deal with writer’s block instead of churning out excuse after reason:
- Write a shitty first draft of anything, even if it’s not a topic you should write about. Just get something out. You’ll feel better when you’re done. If you hate the concept, throw it away, but I never did. All drafts go to the first drafts folder which sucks. I’ll come here every once in a while and bring ideas to life or borrow ideas from the trash that was written before. If you don’t hate the concept, but know it’s a mess, leave it for a few days. Come back to it with a fresh look and start editing when you’re ready.
- Do you have too many ideas? Make a list. A long list full of ideas can help you in the present and the future. Dedicating some time to writing a list will clear your mind a bit, helping you now to focus instead of getting mentally lost. In the future, when you’re not sure what to write, the list works like a fun set of ideas to try.
- Confused about what to write? Choose an idea from your list Well, if you follow my second tip, you’ll have a long list of possible ideas to pick and choose from. Pick something up and commit to writing a shitty first draft. Though, I want to remind you not to get stuck with anything to share. If you write for your company blog, You have to work on the editorial calendar. If the current topic you have to work on leaves you confused (and you have permission to do so), switch the topic to something you find more interesting.
- Outline. If you have a defined topic, even though you’re not sure what to say or where to start, the best place to start is by sketching an outline. Even if you have to start as they teach young students: A thesis statement, three supporting facts/paragraphs, and a conclusion. At least you have an idea of what information needs to be filled in. Pro tip: You don’t have to start over and work to the end. Filling in the information in the middle also works well.
- Write something different. Stuck in writing poetry? Send an email instead. Can’t write a blog post? Try create social media before you start writing. Instead of focusing on what you can’t do, find ways to do something else that’s productive.
- Create a point system for yourself. I haven’t tried this tip, though I think it’s genius. One of my writing friends has a points system where she can earn “fun” activities, such as chatting on social media, if she earns points for doing work activities related to writing. Points can be earned for emailing subscribers, editing posts, quality title writing, etc.
- Stop writing. Sometimes you just need a break. Step away from your computer and do something completely different. Don’t forget to come back to your original draft at some point.
I polled some of my coworkers to find out what they do when they feel overwhelmed by writer’s block. This is what they say.
I use the “Notes” app on my phone almost every day to jot down new ideas. It might be a quote, an idea, or if I’m really excited, an occasional half an article to use at a later date when I have writer’s block and need a boost.
For example, a few weeks ago I was on a Sherlock show, and Sherlock asked Watson, “Do you really think anyone reads your blog?” Watson replied, “Where do you think all our clients come from?” At some point, I’ll use it and maybe turn it into a Sherlock-themed pro-blogging post.
I have hundreds, maybe thousands of short notes like this on my phone, and a few fully written articles that haven’t been published for me to sort through when I’m looking for something new to say.
All blockages must be removed, and energy purged. Because the power of writing is one of those creative traits, I like to step back from assignments and rekindle the spark of the written word. I will write poetry, streams of consciousness, or even just words that I find inspiring. Then, once the blockage is gone, I’ll get back to the work aspect.
Writer’s block? I just left. I put down the pen and closed the computer. I’ll go for a walk or play with my dog – whatever makes my mind different.
Wait, you asked I about writer’s block? I do not understand. Actually, I thought it might be something made by humans. I have so many thoughts to share with the world that I am always ready to write. Because of that, sometimes, I find myself a little distracted. Whenever I feel uninspired, I usually just whine until my parents let me go out, and I’ll have a bowel movement. Defecation helps everything. It gives me the mental clarity to restart my work once I get back inside.
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How do you manage writer’s block? If you have additional tips, share them in the comments section!