Every writer I’ve ever talked with has experienced writer’s block at one time or other. It seems to come with the territory of being a writer (or any creative) however you don’t need to let it stop you. Here are some wonderful ways to crush writer’s block you can start using today.
One of my favorite ways to conquer writer’s block is to free write. I set the time for 15 minutes and write without stopping. Sometimes I write absolute garbage with zero intention (aka venting or clearing the pipes) while other times I write with more focused intention.
I’ve written short stories this way, worked through plots issues and fleshed out characters. The possibilities are endless. The key to free writing is to write without stopping—to let whatever wants to come come without editing or worrying about it. Grammar and punctuality are meaningless during free writing. It’s your chance to play and get out of your own way. And it can be lots of fun.
HOW TO DO IT
1. Set your timer for at least 15 minutes but not more than 30 minutes. This seems to be the sweet spot (but do what works for you).
2. Decide before you start what (if anything) you want to write about. I’ve used this to write short stories, work through plot issues, flesh out character development, have my characters work out issues by talking to each other—the options are endless. Or you can decide not to have an intention and let whatever wants to flow through you come out.
3. Stop when the timer chimes or not. It’s up to you. I’ve found that I often want to continue writing and that’s totally OK. This practice has helped me jump start my writing many times. Do what works for you.
The best writing advice I ever received was to allow myself to write garbage, especially for first drafts. This gets the inner critic (mostly) out of my head and allows the words to flow without judgment. I’ve also heard it said that first drafts are really about the writer telling the story to themselves. The second, third and subsequent drafts are about making it pretty for the reader. This also helps take the pressure off and allows the words to flow more easily.
HOW TO DO IT
1. When you’re writing, remind yourself that it’s ok to write garbage, especially for a first draft. The first draft is all about getting to story and/or ideas down. Revisions are about polishing.
2. Don’t edit as you go. That’s what revisions are for.
3. Tell your inner critic that it can tear your writing apart during the revision phase but for now it needs to take a back (quiet) seat.
Schedule time to write.
Believe it or not, writing likes routine. It doesn’t want you to wait until you’re inspired. Sure, inspiration is great when it happens but sometimes you need to work at getting it to show up. One way to do this is to schedule time to write. Set aside specific time slots for your writing, even if it’s only 15 or 30 minutes. It all adds up.
HOW TO DO IT
1. Look for gaps in your schedule where you can fit in at least 15 to 30 minutes of writing time. Sometimes you will need to create time by shifting things around.
2. Schedule your writing time. Make this an appointment with yourself to write, one that you won’t shift for something else.
3. Show up to your writing time and write.
Create writing goals.
I’ve been most successful with my writing when I create writing goals. I don’t give my muse a choice about whether or not we’re writing today because I have specific goals. I’ve found that this structure helps to get me in the chair writing and the words flowing.
Every year NaNoWriMo helps hundreds of thousands of people write 50,000 words in 30 days by creating a structured goal of writing at least 1667 words per day. Your writing goals can be word count and/or time spent writing. Choose what works best for you. (If you need extra help, check out my word count trackers.)
HOW TO DO IT
1. Decide on a writing goal, either a word count goal or an amount of time writing. Keep it realistic. Start smaller with the intention to expand. For example, it’s better to set a goal of 500 words a day than 2000 if you’re just starting out. You can always over-write and you can increase your goal amount once you’ve mastered the goal.
2. Create time in your schedule to accomplish your writing goal. Preplan if needed to make sure you have the time.
3. Write until you reach your goal.
Start in the middle.
Sometimes writer block comes from not knowing where to start. One neat trick to overcome this is to start writing in the middle. It’s best to start in the middle of action anyway (usually) and you can always back track and fill in a beginning later. This gets you out of your head and into the action.
HOW TO DO IT
1. Start writing from the middle—from inside the action.
2. Start anywhere. Don’t be concerned with it needing to be “the beginning.”
3. Just write.
Similar to starting in the middle, I’ve skipped ahead, bypassing a section that has me blocked, in order to keep writing. I’ve heard that other writers have done this with great success. Sometimes your writing will end up making the blocked section irrelevant or helps to show a more clear path through the block. Either way, it keeps you writing and away from staring at a blank page.
HOW TO DO IT
1. When you get stuck with a section, skip ahead to a section where you don’t feel stuck and/or is more fun. Chances are this will help unstick the stuck section.
2. Don’t worry about the stuck section when you skip ahead. Know you can always come back to it later.
3. If you’re really feeling stuck, try free writing (see above) to work through the rest of the story/piece.
Write as if you’re talking to a friend (or client).
Sometimes trying to decide how to write something, particularly for non-writer writers (such as people who want to write blog posts for their audience and clients), can be a challenge. One unique way to get around this is to write as if you’re talking to a friend (or client). Be direct. Be conversational. Talk in a clear language that you would use with them normally.
If you’re really stuck, record yourself discussing whatever topic you’re wanting to write about then write from the recording. It probably won’t be a direct dictation but it will get you moving forward towards creating a writing piece that works.
HOW TO DO IT
1. When sitting down to write, image that you’re writing an email to a friend (or client).
2. Use clear conversational language. Be yourself. Let your personality shine through.
3. If this fails, try recording yourself having a conversation about the topic you want to write about. Use the recording as a starting point to writing your piece.
Shake things up.
If all else fails, shake things up. If you’re used to writing on a computer, try writing in a notebook. If you’re used to writing at home, try writing at a coffee shop. Shaking things up will help you to achieve a fresh perspective, allowing the writing to flow easier. Here are some ideas on how to shake things up:
– Change location.
– Change writing method.
– Change (or put on) music.
– Take a walk.
– Move your desk/writing space so you’re looking at something new.
– Change your writing time.
Everyone gets writer’s block. Don’t beat yourself up. Instead look at how you can have fun with it. Play with these different ways to crush writer’s block. Not every method will be the best for you. Experiment with them until you discover which ones work best methods for you.
Need extra help?
I love helping people break through their writer’s block. Schedule a no obligation call with me to discuss how I can help you get started.