Writer's Block - An Ugly Reality
You hate it. I hate it. We all hate it. Writer's block is a reality that plagues the best of us.
Every content writer has experienced it… probably more frequently than they would like to admit. We get stuck. Whether you want to call it writer’s block or a lack of inspiration, we all have our moments where we find ourselves unable to write.
3 Tips to Defeat Your Writer's Block
Fortunately, you're not alone. There are ways to defeat writer's block. I'm going to share a few tricks I use to get over the dreaded stuck phase.
Beat Writer’s Block with Your Own Writer’s Block
(I promise it will all make sense)
First, I'm going to tell you how you can beat writer's block before it even happens. This method involves being proactive and sticking to a schedule.
Even if your job title is Content Writer, writing typically isn’t your only responsibility. If you have your own freelance business, then you definitely know this to be true. Your to-do list is filled with things that are just as important as the writing itself, but have nothing to do with the piece you’re working on. Invoicing, checking emails and social media, editing your website, crafting pitches, cold calling… the list goes on.
When you’re stuck on a blog post (or white paper, newsletter, or anything else you happen to be working on) it’s easy to defer to another item on your to-do list that you can finish to give yourself a much needed sense of accomplishment. No, you didn’t get started on the blog post, but look how many pitches you sent out! You feel better and yes, you did get something productive out of the way.
But… that screen is still blank.
And it's still staring at you.
Like a jerk.
Instead of allowing yourself to get distracted (even if it’s a productive distraction) you should set aside a specific time each day for writing. We’ll call it your “writer’s block” (Eh? Eh? See what I did there?). Your writer’s block is going to be a set block of time each day that you dedicate exclusively to writing.
If you tend to write whenever the mood strikes you, take note of when that usually happens. People have different work habits and different times of productivity. Maybe your best time to write is at the start of the day after you’ve had your morning coffee. Maybe it’s at the end of the day, after you’ve finished dinner and all of your responsibilities are taken care of. It could be any time in between.
I set aside two blocks during the day to dedicate to writing. From 10 am to 11 am and again from 3 pm to 4 pm. I’ve found these to be my most productive times for content writing. Splitting them into two blocks gives me a nice break in between. I can always write more throughout the day depending on my work load (and if I’m on a role I definitely keep going!), but this means I have a set minimum of two hours per day that I know will be devoted to writing.
Setting a schedule for writing will get your mind get into a routine. Getting into the right mindset will gear your mind for sitting down and writing. You’ll be less likely to wander off to go work on something else.
You Don’t Have to Start at the Beginning
Sometimes I find the most difficult part of writing a blog post is the intro. You might be thinking that you have to write a piece from start to finish. If you find yourself unable to start the piece then remember this:
There is no rule saying you have to start at the beginning.
Skip the intro. You can always get back to it later. Your intro should hook the reader and let them know what’s coming up. You’ll have a clearer picture of what’s coming up if you’ve already written it. Often, I find that I can write better intros if I write them last.
Are you a stickler for structure? If the thought of writing out of order is giving you anxiety then it's time to take a deep breath. Give it a try! Writing out of order could be the push you need to keep your wheels from spinning.
Allow Yourself to be a Bad Writer
I’m going to let you in on a secret.
Your first draft doesn’t have to be perfect.
In fact, your first draft shouldn't be perfect. It can be a straight up mess. That’s where editing comes in. Get your ideas down and don’t let your fear of an ugly draft stop you. Just write something!
I'll admit it. I’m guilty of getting stuck on a single sentence. I'll write and rewrite the same line to the point of frustration. You know what that does? It wastes time.
Just. Keep. Going.
Leave the ugly sentence behind. Leave the whole section behind if you need to. You can always come back to it later, but you’re stopping the creative process in its tracks if you don't keep writing. By the time you’re ready to come back for an edit, you can look at it with a fresh perspective. You might even find that you don’t need that part at all.
- Schedule ‘writing blocks’ for yourself. Writing during the same time each day will get you into a routine and help your brain switch into writing mode.
- You don't have to start at the beginning. Skip the intro if you're having a hard time getting started. It's okay to write out of order!
- Let yourself screw up. Your writing doesn't have to be perfect the first time around. Get through your first draft and come back to the parts you were stuck at with a fresh perspective.
The next time writer’s block threatens to stress you out, take a step back. Try the tips above and don’t worry. You’ve got this.