Writer’s block. Does the mere uttering of the phrase make you squirm?
People have debated the legitimacy of writer’s block for years. Whether you believe in it or remain skeptical, the most important thing to understand about writer’s block is that it’s not much of a threat . . .
And here’s why.
Writer’s block isn’t something that people tend to battle and battle during a single writing session. If you’re able to push through and defeat it, you defang it. Once you start writing, you can keep writing.
And that’s the key – starting, and building a rhythm.
So, you have to get yourself to start writing.
But how do you do that?
I’ve compiled 19 methods that I believe are the most effective remedies for this problem.
However, the truth is that some of these won’t work for you. Because everyone’s mind is different, the ways in which people react to writer’s block are different. But some of these tactics will work for you.
So, let’s dive right in and take a look at 19 powerful remedies together.
1. Change Your Perception of Writer’s Block
The very first thing you should do when you run into writer’s block is acknowledge the fragility of it.
Writer’s block isn’t anything other than a very thin mental barrier that prevents you from creating, temporarily. It’s “very thin” because it can be broken within a matter of minutes. Soon after you identify and employ a method that works best for you, you’ll see just how powerless writer’s block is.
At its root, this mental barrier is often caused by fear. The fear of not being perfect. The fear of time. The fear of handling business.
Once we understand that writer’s block is largely inflicted by fear, we have already unlocked the key to defeating it. If we can beat or circumnavigate our fear, we can beat the block.
And that might just be enough to break your case of writer’s block.
But if not . . .
2. Change Your Location
Personally speaking, changing locations is the method that works best for me. 9 times out of 10, I won’t have to resort to any other methods because this one just seems to work. I’ll spend weeks – months, even – writing from home. When I feel writer’s block coming on, I don’t waste any time wallowing in it.
Instead, I immediately pack up my work and head out to my local coffee shop. When I do this, I’m able to get into a rhythm very quickly.
I find that if I write at my coffee shop but return to my usual home environment the next day, that I can sometimes revert back to writer’s block.
So, I manage periods of writer’s block by spending a few days – or even the entire work week – at the coffee shop before trying to work from home again. This breaks up my routine enough that by the time I try working from home again, my mind is ready to go.
And if you’re a freelance writer like me, you likely have this kind of flexibility that allows you to switch up locations. Take advantage of it!
3. Change Your Writing Method
If you’ve written one way for a long time, it might be in your best interest to change up the way you write – at least temporarily.
For example, if you’re the writer who creates an outline and works from top to bottom, try switching things up. For your next piece, start with the body of your article and go back to write your headline and introduction later on.
Maybe even try throwing away that outline and see whether that frees you up!
The very first thing you should do when you run into writer’s block is acknowledge the fragility of it. Click To Tweet
Of course, there are so many different approaches you can take. Find a writing method that works for you.
4. Change Your Diet
What you eat affects your health, but it also affects the way you feel. If you’re not able to get into a rhythm when writing, consider whether the things you’re putting into your body are having a positive or negative effect on your output.
There is a direct relationship between food and your ability to focus. If you’re eating fast food, your productivity just isn’t going to be as heightened as it could be. So, substitute poor eating with nutrients that boost your brainpower.
Start choosing foods that are loaded with vitamins, antioxidants, and good fats. Here are a few impactful foods that you should consider implementing into your diet regularly:
- Dark chocolate
A simple change in what you consume can be the difference between a productive day and a day when you struggle to create.
5. Get Up Early to Write
Who doesn’t love getting a few extra hours of sleep?
If you’re self-employed, the temptation is real. After all, you have more freedom with your schedule. Surely there’s no harm in hitting the snooze button a couple of times, right?
If only this were true . . .
Some writers can adjust to a late start; but most of us (myself included) don’t manage so well. Once you lose one or two hours of your workday, you become much more willing to put off your work for another hour . . . or two . . . or three. And you know how that goes.
But when you’re purposeful about waking up early, it’s much easier to be productive.
Here are a few tips for getting up early:
- Move your phone (or alarm) further away. Make it difficult to stay in bed!
- Set an even earlier alarm. Sometimes creating a larger buffer can help you out.
- Set your coffee for the early AM. Many percolators can brew your coffee on a schedule. Wake up to the smell of coffee!
Speaking of coffee . . .
6. Get Some Coffee
I know of very few people who wake up feeling as though they have already reached their creative peaks. Most of us feel a little sluggish in the morning. Caffeine, however, has the ability to stimulate our minds and increase our productivity.
CareerBuilder and Dunkin Donuts released a study in 2011 on coffee and its correlation to productivity. It was noted that 46% of U.S. workers feel less productive if they don’t have their daily cup.
So, if you’re a coffee drinker, make the beverage part of your morning routine. Don’t wait until 11am to get your cup of joe!
When we have writer’s block, the natural reaction is to brainstorm, right? The problem is, however, often our idea of brainstorming is lazy. Although our intentions are to jumpstart creativity, we tend to sit at our computers in silence and wait for inspiration to strike.
Unfortunately, this usually gets us nowhere . . .
For example, if you’re writing about the topic, “how to paint your living room”, merely thinking about the topic probably isn’t going to help you overcome writer’s block.
A simple change in what you consume can be the difference between a productive day and a day when you struggle to create. Click To Tweet
When you brainstorm, the key is to produce actionable steps that you can take.
Start by creating a visual representation of your next piece. You may have learned to do this in middle school, but it’s a brainstorming practice that holds up.
Next, take a blank sheet of paper and drawing a large bubble in the middle of your page. Now, go ahead and write the name of your topic inside. Then, branch off and create smaller bubbles, filling them in with questions, points, and answers that you’ll need to cover.
Already, you have a rough outline for your piece!
Keep branching off with smaller bubbles that include subpoints. Once you feel like you have generated enough ideas to get started, begin laying out these ideas on your page. With a more detailed direction for your piece, you’ll soon see how much easier it is to fill in your points with sections of text!
This is a brainstorming tactic you can use to also get ahead on your blog content – not just when you’re in a pinch.
8. Do a Speed Drill
If you’re struggling to write, try this:
Take out your phone and set your timer to five minutes.
Next, choose a random topic and see how much you can write about that subject within the five minutes. The writing doesn’t have to be structured or clean, and what you write doesn’t even have to make a whole lot of sense.
Don’t feel as though you have to end up with a masterpiece!
The purpose of this drill is simply to get your brain moving and creating again. If you’re able to get that out of the drill, it will have been a success.
9. Watch an Inspiring Video
Not feeling particularly motivated? Go to YouTube and watch a short video that will encourage you to keep going.
Only you know what your motivators are, so make sure you’re consuming content from someone you look up to – someone who inspires you to be better and work harder.
But be careful not to use this to procrastinate even more.
An hour-long motivational speech won’t do much more than make you tired and lethargic; but a short video that runs between 2 and 10 minutes might be exactly what you need to jumpstart your system.
10. Read Something
You can easily run into writer’s block after writing for hours on end. That creative well? It’s not bottomless. It can dry up . . .
Instead, try putting down the pen (or leaving your computer), and picking up a book. You’ve been creating and creating and creating, and it’s important that you also be the recipient of creativity in order to replenish your well.
Because inspiration comes in a variety of forms, consuming different types of media and content might just be the boost you need.
11. Listen to Music
This works for some. For others, not so much. Music can be soothing and energizing for some, but for others music can be a distraction when working.
What type of person are you? More specifically, what type of writer are you?
Does music gently fade into the background as you type away? Or does music serve as more of a distraction that prevents you from getting anything done?
Remember, neither method is wrong! Just determine whether or not music helps you write.
12. Break Your Writing into Milestones
As you stare at your blank screen with a deadline and a 5,000 word count requirement looming, you’d think that this would be enough motivation to kick things into gear.
But sometimes it has the opposite effect, and leaves you feeling paralyzed . . .
This is normal. Thinking about your next piece as an entity has the ability to discourage you from completing it. In fact, it can discourage you from starting it!
You can easily run into writer’s block after writing for hours on end. That creative well? It’s not bottomless. Click To Tweet
So, if you’re about to take on a large project, try breaking it down into smaller sections or milestones for you to complete. As you complete a paragraph, section, or chapter, you can check it off, take a short break (if needed), and move on to the next task.
This makes writing manageable, but it also makes it fun and motivating!
13. Make a Deal with Yourself
I’m not getting up until I have 500 words. I’m not eating lunch until I complete at least half of this article. I’m not looking at my phone until I finish this piece.
These “agreements” can be very motivating. Consider rewarding yourself for your work, too! How does a coffee break after writing a few pages sound? What about treating yourself to ice cream after your work is done?
How strong is your willpower? If you’re certain that you can keep the promises you make when no one is there to keep you accountable, this can be an effective remedy for writer’s block.
14. Inject Some Order
If you’re the person who sits down and starts writing with little preparation, sometimes it can be difficult to get your thoughts in order. Writer’s block can be more paralyzing for you than it is for others because there are no points of reference.
So, try building an outline for the next piece you have to write. This extra planning might seem tedious to you, but this additional step moves you closer to your starting point.
Once you successfully complete your outline, see whether you can now add descriptions or short sentences under each point.
Now that you have some of the “meat” of your article, begin to fill in the different sections. Soon, you will see your article begin to take shape. And from this point, it’s smooth sailing.
15. Set an Imaginary Deadline
Many of us thrive when there is order and structure. However, not every project comes with requirements or parameters.
In the event that there are no guidelines for the project you’re working on, try creating some for yourself – namely, a deadline.
If you’re working towards a date or time that’s earlier than your client’s anticipated completion date, well, now you’ve created a comfortable buffer for yourself.
16. Don’t Use the Bathroom Right Away
This might seem like an odd tip . . . but it can actually be effective.
Next time you need to use the bathroom, see if you can wait it out a little longer (within reason, of course) and write.
Not using the bathroom straight away creates a light sense of urgency, but it can be enough to kick your writing into gear.
17. Do Some Extra Writing Late at Night
Some writers really like order. They treat their jobs as though they are nine-to-fives, keeping to a strict schedule.
And that’s fine! But if you’re like me, you like to keep your writing hours flexible.
There are two reasons why I do this.
Generally, the more I write, the better and faster I become at writing; and creating that rhythm helps me to avoid writer’s block. So for that reason, no hours are off-limits for when I choose to write. I don’t mind churning out a piece at 6am, and I certainly don’t mind putting something together at 10pm either.
Second, I can’t tell you just how many of my best ideas hit me late at night. On occasion, I have even tried jotting an idea down to save it for the morning. But the results aren’t the same.
So, if you feel as though you’re alert enough to write at 11pm, do it!
18. Draw Inspiration from Existing Content
If you’re struggling to write, don’t get hung up on having to conjure up a new idea or concept. Take a look at your existing content, and think about whether you can repurpose that content.
There are a number of reasons why you might want to repurpose an existing piece:
- The piece is old.
- The facts are outdated or inaccurate.
- The writing is poor.
- You have new information to add to the piece.
But most importantly, repurposing is so much easier than creating from scratch. And when writer’s block puts you in a bind, sometimes an easy task can help you get out of that funk.
19. Just Start Writing!
Writer’s block can come down to a number of things; but much of the time, it is self-inflicted.
We get lazy. We get distracted. We make excuses. We get too comfortable. And when these contributors strike, sometimes it’s just better to sit down and force ourselves to write.
Throw away your perfectionism for a moment. Just start writing and don’t stop, because you can always go back and edit your work later on. And even if the work isn’t salvageable, the exercise may have been worth the time if it breaks the block.
These are 19 of the most effective remedies I’ve discovered for defeating writer’s block, but I’m sure there are more out there!
Writer’s block can come down to a number of things; but much of the time, it is self-inflicted. Click To Tweet
Have you battled writer’s block before? What was your experience and how were you able to break it?