Writer’s block: words that no writer wants to hear. If there’s one thing you can do, it’s to write – and now you can’t even manage that. For most writers, writer’s block represents the profound misery and frustration of staring at a blank page with an even blanker mind.
What happened? What went wrong? Do you need to sacrifice a small animal to a hungry and vengeful ancient deity who is sick and tired of being ignored?
Well, it happens to all writers – even the most prolific. Inspiration dries up, and your muse has decided that you’re no longer good enough for them. You might recall days when you could write all day long with fondness, and wonder where it all went wrong.
The good news is that you can put away the sacrificial knife because there are other, less bloodthirsty ways to cure yourself of writer’s block.
One thing you do need to know:
Never, ever overexert yourself writing.
If you feel like you’re writing too much, then you need to take a break!
You know that voice: it’s the little nagging one at the back of your head that tells you you’re done for the day, but you just can’t stop yourself squeezing out another page (or ten…). Do that too often, and you’ll crash and burn for days, weeks, or even months wandering the hellish corridors of writer’s block.
If you take away just one thing from this post, make it that tip. With that said here are a few more tips to help you keep writer’s block at bay and write an article or blog post no matter what.
Go Out and Seek Inspiration
Do you ever feel like you might spend way too much time hunched over your keyboard, creating masterpieces? Most writers spend a lot of time indoors, but there’s a lot to be said for opening your front door and venturing out into the world at large.
You don’t need to make this an expedition: take a quick thirty-minute walk around your neighborhood, stop by a coffee shop for a spot of people watching, or even spend some time soaking up sun rays in your local park.
Not only is this great exercise, but it’s also a good way to give yourself a break while letting the new environment stimulate your brainstorming. It’s worth carrying around a little notebook so you can jot down these ideas.
The more relaxing you can make this time, the better you will feel for it. You’ll also see things you otherwise miss out on, and some of them may just be the inspiration you needed to finish off an article.
Write About Things You Find Interesting or Enjoy
This is something of a no-brainer, but try to find something you like and write about that. This is a good way to ease back into writing after an attack of writer’s block, but it also highlights one of the reasons we get writer’s block.
If you’re simply not very interested in a subject – or maybe don’t know a lot about it – then you’re naturally going to find it harder to create something engaging for other people, never mind yourself. If you write for a living, sometimes it’s unavoidable writing about things that bore you.
In this case, the best thing to do is research the topic more. Even if it’s a topic that makes your eyes roll over in frustrated boredom, keep researching until you find something interesting. I promise you that something is interesting about everything: the trick is to find it.
When you find that point of interest, you’ll know – and it will help you to write a better article for your readers.
Create an Outline for Your Articles
One of the biggest problems that writers suffering from writer’s block have is that they somehow lose the ability to write anything. What used to come naturally suddenly feels like writing a Ph.D. thesis, even if it’s just a standard 5 Things We Love About Our Cats article.
In this case, it’s time to cheat by creating an outline. While that’s not really writing, it helps you to put together a full structure for an article and plot it out from beginning to end. Once your outline is done, it’s as simple as filling in the blanks with a little more.
An outline can be as simple as a topic sentence followed by bullet points outlining any key points you want to make. All you need to do here is bulk out that sentence and those bullet points, add a conclusion, and you’ve got an article that’s ready to go.
Leave It Alone – You Need Fresh Eyes and a Fresh Mind
You might look at the article you’ve written via the outline method above and hate it. You might even want to raze it to the ground, shocked that you could even create such trash. I get it – but don’t do that.
Just close it and leave it alone for a couple of days. When you come back to it, you’ll almost always be surprised at how well it reads. Your fresh mind has come with a new perspective, which means you can now be a lot less judgmental when analyzing your writing – and instead of deleting the whole file, you can make some changes and edits to improve it.
Beating Writer’s Block Doesn’t Need to Be Hard…
…But you do need determination. At the top of this article, I said that the most important thing to do to avoid writer’s block was to be mindful of when your body was telling you that it needed a break. If you can master hearing those (sometimes very!) subtle signals, you can avoid this issue most of the time.
However, if you are stuck in the doldrums of not being able to write anything other than utter crap (according to your jaundiced eye), then the above steps can help you to slowly climb back out. However, don’t push yourself. Sometimes, you just need to take a break and unwind.
Your writing talents haven’t deserted you; they simply need a break. When you get writer’s block, often the best thing to do is simply take a vacation from writing and focus elsewhere until you’re ready again. When you are, follow the above steps, and you’ll soon be back to creating flawless masterpieces effortlessly.