We've all experienced writer's block at some point in our lives.
Ah yes, that horrible feeling where you stare at a blank computer screen for so long that you swear the blinking cursor is mocking you – or maybe that you'll be buried alive by all the crumpled up pieces of paper from your notebook.
Writer's block strips you of your creative juices, turns your brain into mush – and honestly, makes you feel like a horrible writer. Well, that's what it does to me, anyway.
So what do we do about it?
At Edit This®, your local source for everything writing and editing related, we pride ourselves on offering solutions that work. While no one can promise a "magic cure" for writer's block, I did write a cute blog a few years ago on how my son and his Juicy Juice helped me beat writer's block (albeit temporarily).
In that post, I listed additional tips but didn't do much explaining beyond that. Below is my attempt to right that wrong. Here are 10 hacks to outthink writer's block.
Freewriting is a simple exercise or hack for anyone struggling to turn ideas into words on a page. Consider it a warmup; don't worry about punctuation or style – just pick a prompt and write for at least 10 minutes without stopping.
Know your sweet spot
Have you stopped long enough to realize maybe it's not time to write yet? More importantly, when's your favorite time to write? I'm at my creative peak late at night or early in the morning. It's not that I can't or won't write during the day; I simply know when I'm at my best. It's easier to outthink writer's block when you know your sweet spot.
Avoid rush hour
If you're working under a self-imposed tight window (example: you waited until the last minute to write that press release), the anxiety you're feeling might be the reason for your writer's block. When working on any writing project for a client, I always carve out enough time to avoid feeling rushed.
The root cause of your writer's block could be emotional. Getting angry (at writer's block, people, the world around you, etc.) or being afraid of what readers will think won't help your situation. Always write from a happy place. If you're not calm, it's not time to write.
I am constantly changing the scenery to spark my creative juices. One minute I'll be writing comfortably in my office, but if I start to feel a block coming on, I'll move to the local coffee shop or sit under the patio in my backyard. There are a million places to write.
Don't forget play time
Sometimes, we need to step away from a tough article or term paper and do something completely off topic to reenergize. That could mean working out, going for a slow walk, playing with our kids, doing yard work, spending time with a friend or spouse, etc.
Brainstorm with a co-worker
I regularly ask co-workers, friends, and family for ideas, hacks, or opinions on sticking points in my writing efforts. It spurs creativity and gives me confidence that I'm going in the right direction – even if there aren't a lot of words on the page.
Another reason I am at my best at night or in the morning is that there are no distractions. My family is asleep, my cell phone isn't ringing, there are no games on the TV to steal my attention, and I don't have an email popping up every few minutes. I can focus on the task.
I tossed this hack in for fun. There's something mindless about folding laundry – plus, it makes my wife happy. You can laugh all you want, but the next time you're struggling with a bout of writer's block, I bet you'll try anything!
Don't quit on your passion for writing just because you're stumped. If you're struggling with a lengthier article and need more time to process your thoughts, simply move on to an easier assignment in the meantime. Basically, write yourself out of the jam.
BONUS HACK: Get organized
Sometimes, our thoughts and ideas are disorganized. They're in three or more places, and what's written down looks like chicken scratch. So when we finally sit down to write, we're not sure where to start or which end is up. Check out the video above for a hack I use.
Call Edit This in Denton, TX for all your writing and editing needs
Writer's block affects everyone at some point. That includes many of you small-business owners out there who are struggling to come up with the right words for your next blog, press release, etc. If you're interested in having Edit This handle your company's content writing and copywriting needs, give us a call!
We can write copy from scratch or spruce up what you have. Bottom line, when it comes to written copy, everyone could use having Edit This in their corner.
*STEVE GAMEL is the President & Owner of Edit This, a writing and editing services company located in Denton, TX. Steve handles anything involving the written word. Give him a call today to help give your business a clear voice.