Writing is like breathing for the online marketer. Without writing, we wouldn’t be able to communicate or sell our products and services. Our trade would grind to a halt.
But have you ever sat down to write… and the words just don’t come? We’re human. It happens to us all.
With sarcasm Ernest Hemingway wrote, “There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.” But when writer’s block hits, we could add, “But you can’t squeeze blood out of a turnip!”
Nobody who writes is immune to writer’s block. We all experience it. Our human brains become filled with a frustrating and impenetrable fog. Or we experience a mental traffic jam that stops our writing in its tracks. Or perhaps something has us so distracted
that we’re helpless to concentrate. And it happens to even the very best. Martha Grimes, a prolific mystery writer admits, “I’m constantly battling writer’s block.”
But to help clarify the main reason for writer’s block, Ray Edwards explains, “Writing is the doing part of thinking.” He’s right!
The actual cause of writer’s block isn’t the inability to write. It’s the ability to think and to translate our thoughts into the written word. Here are five ways to stimulate our thinking, so we can get to the doing part of thinking–writing:
- Engage the help of others. I’m not talking about anything formal here. This can be as simple as strolling into the next room and asking your spouse or co-worker a few open-ended questions: “I’m writing a blog on the topic of writer’s block. What do you think about that topic? Have you ever experienced writer’s block? What do you do to get past it? How common do you think it is?”
Chances are, after just a few minutes of stimulating discussion with another person will unlock the block and you’ll once again be typing away!
- Don’t start with a blank page. When you’re stuck trying to get the words out, we can often focus on just that, the thing that’s tripping us up. There’s nothing worse though than the blank page and a blinking cursor. So start with something you can write. The date, a title, an idea, the last line – it doesn’t matter what you start with. Just ask yourself, “if I’m struggling with this part, what can I start with instead?” Now you haven’t got a blank page anymore and the ideas can start flowing.
- Step away and do something significantly different. Sometimes we just need a fresh start, a new perspective, and a clear head. Go for a walk, run, hike, or bike ride. Get out into nature and let the beauty of the out-of-doors inspire you. Mull your topic over in your mind as you go. My favourite is to simply walk the dog. There’s something about stepping away from the screen which resets the mind.
If you don’t have that much time, take out the rubbish, load the dishwasher, or tidy your work area. Do something totally different to clear your head and take your mind off your writing, even just for a few minutes. But make sure it’s something productive instead of numbing the mind with television. That’s less likely to help. Then, go back to your writing and let the words flow.
- Mindmap your topic. Mindmapping is simply a personal form of brainstorming. Take a blank sheet of paper. If your paper is lined, turn it sideways to prevent you from thinking in a linear fashion. (Seriously, this is an important step.) Then, write your topic in the centre of the page and circle it. Now start brainstorming everything you can think of about that topic.
If you like, engage the help of others as you mindmap. Often, within just minutes, I’ll have the basis of an outline for whatever it is that I’m writing.
- Deal with preoccupations. As we’ve already pointed out, writer’s block is really mind block. Something is blocking our thought process. Quite often, some other issue is looming over us occupying our mind. Whatever the issue is, it is so consuming that we can’t seem to shove it aside.
So, the best remedy for such preoccupations is to take care of them. Get them out of the way, so you can carry on with your writing. These preoccupations could be something dumb like, you forgot to feed the dog this morning; or, you were supposed to call your mother. But sometimes the thoughts that dominate our minds are of greater importance.
Perhaps you had a fight with your partner or friend last night that hasn’t been resolved.
Whatever the preoccupation, either deal with it to get it off your mind or assign it to a task list so you know you won’t forget it. With a clear mind, you’re more likely to find the creativity you were looking for.
- Read or research. Reading something else pertaining to the topic on which you want to write is one of the best ways to defeat writer’s block. In this case, what you’re experiencing is probably more like writer’s “void” than writer’s “block.” You want to fill that void with substance to help stimulate your writing. Reading or researching what others have
written on the topic is sure to move you forward in your writing.
Alsoasked.com is a great resource for this. You can also try Buzzsumo or Answerthepublic.com
Writer’s block is a common problem most writers experience. But it’s not so much an inability to write as it is an inability to think or generate creative thoughts. To avoid or defeat writer’s block, implement one or more of the above actions and your thoughts
will be coming so fast that your fingers can’t keep up!
If you’re struggling to create the content you need, contact me for a FREE discovery call.