You sit in your chair in front of your computer, but the words just don’t come. You do some more research. Still nothing. You spend some time on social media. Clean off your desk. Take the dog for a walk. You’ve wasted half of the day and haven’t written a word. You don’t understand why some days the writing is so easy, and other days it feels painful. You need to figure out how to beat writer’s block.
We’re here to help you learn how to beat writer’s block. But first, we have to hit you with a hard truth. Ready? There’s no such thing as writer’s block. It’s just a fancy name that writers use to convince themselves that something is wrong when procrastinating. The more important thing to understand is why you’re procrastinating. We’re betting it’s because of fear. Uncertainty results in fear. You probably aren’t sure about the topic you’re writing about or how to approach it, so you’re afraid to start and get it wrong. Below is our advice on what to do when fear and uncertainty keep you from writing.
After the hard truth of unmasking writer’s block, this is the bluntest, best advice we can provide you. Put your rear in the chair and put words on the screen. You can always fix what you’ve written, but you can’t edit nothing. Once you get started, you may find that the topic wasn’t as scary as you previously thought. You may even like what you wrote. Either way, just write.
Do Some Research
Maybe the reason you’re afraid of writing is that you don’t understand the topic well enough. It’s ok to do additional research. After all, if you don’t understand your topic, how will you explain it to the audience? But be careful that you don’t continue researching as just one more way to procrastinate. You don’t need to know everything there is to know about a topic to start writing. You need to gather enough resources to set yourself up for success, and then you fill in the blanks as you go.
Create an Outline
Having a clear outline and resources can help you start writing. It’s easier to sit down to a blank document when you have a plan of how you will attack the topic. Even if you just create a rough outline on a sticky note, something is better than nothing.
Don’t Edit as You Write
Some writers procrastinate because they are afraid their piece won’t be good enough. Even worse, they’re scared it won’t be perfect. This desire for perfectionism results in them writing five words and deleting two. You’ll never get anywhere like that. Your piece will not be perfect. Every piece could be better with one more source, an additional edit, or five more minutes. When it comes to writing, done is better than perfect. Avoid editing while you write. Editing comes after you’ve written.
Keep an Idea File
Sometimes your lack of writing isn’t fear of a topic. It’s that you don’t have a topic. You aren’t sure how to come up with a blog topic. Uncertainty about what to write about certainly keeps you from writing. Keep an idea file or a running list of ideas to avoid uncertainty about where to start. Then, instead of spending a bunch of time trying to figure out what to write, you can look at your list, pick a topic that interests you on that given day, and get started.
Create a Writing Habit
In his book, “On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft,” Stephen King advises that writers create a writing habit. He’s created a writing habit. He goes to his desk and writes for a certain amount of time every day, no matter whether he feels like it or not.
Some of the most successful writers create writing habits or routines. Set aside time in your schedule when you write. Then do nothing else during that time.
Identify Your Peak
We have natural rhythms to our productivity, but they are different for each person. Some people are more productive in the morning, while others work better late at night. Identify the time of day when you are most effective and schedule writing time during those focused hours.
Write in Your Head
It helps to have an idea about what you’re going to write when you sit down at the computer. Research your piece, then walk away for a while. Give what you know time to germinate. Think about what your audience needs to know and the best way to give them that information. When you know what you’re going to write, you have a running start when you sit down at your computer.
Write More When It’s Easy
Writing is difficult and easy, depending on the day. When your creative juices are flowing, keep writing. Even if you’re tapping it out in Notes on your phone, get it down when the writing in your head continues to flow. Researcher Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi calls this state “flow,” which he saw in artists focused on their work, so much so that it seemed time disappeared. If you have a time or day when the words are flowing, keep writing until you have to quit.
There’s nothing quite so motivating as a deadline. Set deadlines for yourself, then keep them like they’re deadlines someone else gave you. If each piece has a serious deadline, you can’t procrastinate on your writing.
Don’t Wait for Motivation
Successful people get work done, even when they aren’t motivated to do so. If you wait for motivation to write (or do any other work), it may not come. You’re not going to be motivated all of the time. Write because it’s what you need to be doing, even when you don’t want to.
Content Journey Can Help
Every writer has days when it’s difficult to write. At Content Journey, our job is to provide our clients with amazing content that serves their clients and best represents their brands. To do that, we apply our advice above to work through difficult writing days. There’s nothing quite as fulfilling as ending what starts as a tough writing day with fabulous content. But, we also understand that content isn’t everyone’s job. Some of you want to build a business, not worry about getting into a writing flow state. And that’s ok. You can contact us. We’re happy to help.