Creating

Overcoming Writer’s Block Is Easy With These 5 Tips

Written by Lorraine Roberte

If going purely by Malcolm Gladwell’s 10,000-hour rule, many content writers would likely be considered masters at their craft. Yet, every writer has sat staring at a blinking cursor, seemingly unable to type a single word because of writer’s block.

As Gene Fowler aptly put it: “Writing is easy: All you do is sit staring at a blank sheet of paper until drops of blood form on your forehead.”

5 tips for overcoming writer’s block

Thankfully, there are ways to get your creative juices flowing if you find yourself with writer’s block. Here are five tips to overcoming writer’s block to jumpstart your inspiration.

1. Draft an outline

If a blank screen is breaking you out in cold sweats, creating a quick (or detailed) outline can get some words on the screen and relieve some anxiety. The magic of outlines is that it gives your brain some structure to play with, rather than allowing it to go into overload with innumerable possibilities.

Examples of what to do:

  • Write a rough skeleton of your article’s intro, main points, and conclusion.
  • Pick the section you’re stuck on, and write sub-bullets you can discuss.

2. Let your first draft be the “child’s draft”

Anne Lamott, author of ‘Bird by Bird,’ a popular book on writing, colorfully advises that you can only get to brilliance in the honing process that comes after getting through your crappy first draft. As Lamott says, “The first draft is the child’s draft, where you let it all pour out and then let it romp all over the place, knowing that no one is going to see it and that you can shape it later.”

Examples of what to do:

  • For your first draft, type as fast as needed to keep up with your thoughts. Don’t censor them as you go.
  • Forego the pressure to “get it right” from the get-go. Have confidence that your research, knowledge and experience will pour out onto the page.

3. Focus only on writing

One sure way to bog down any creative flow is to keep switching between tasks. Context switching, as it’s known, can reduce your overall productivity by up to 80 percent.

As if that weren’t troubling enough, the creative part of the brain you need to write is in opposition with the critical part of the brain you need to edit. If you’re frequently rewriting words, sentences, or paragraphs while creating your draft, you could be making things harder on yourself.

Examples of what to do:

  • Turn off or minimize all distractions so they don’t interrupt your flow.
  • Leave other tasks for the editing stage, like fact- and spell-checking, editing sentences, looking for synonyms, and finding links. Simply make notes in brackets for you to come back to later.

4. Space out work

Trying to research, outline, draft, and edit a piece in quick succession doesn’t give your subconscious enough time to let the information sink in. This makes it harder for your words to flow, making it tedious to get sentences out.

Examples of what to do:

  • Space each step of the writing process (by even as little as an hour) to give the information time to percolate.
  • Have the point you’re stuck on in the back of your mind as you space out your work. When you least expect it, the right phrase or word might suddenly come to you. You’ll get a jolt of inspiration that gets you excited to work on your project again.

5. Change up the scenery

When nothing seems to work, a change of scenery can be just the break your mind needs to get out from under the weight of writer’s block. While sometimes you can continue working in another space, consider pausing in favor of other tasks. You might find you feel more refreshed when you return.

Examples of what to do:

Bye-bye, writer’s block

There’s no one-size-fits-all approach for ridding yourself of a bad case of writer’s block, but the tips here can help get you back into your creative groove. You’ll be able to get that assignment in on time while still delivering your best work.

‘Almost all good writing begins with terrible first efforts. You need to start somewhere. Start by getting something—anything—down on paper.’ - Anne Lamott, author of Bird by Bird. #writersblock #writing Click To Tweet

 

About the author

Lorraine Roberte

Lorraine Roberte is an experienced personal finance writer living in sunny South Florida. She helps readers make informed decisions about their mortgage, insurance, credit cards, small business finances, and more. Her work has appeared on sites like The Simple Dollar, The Balance, I Will Teach You To Be Rich, Reviews.com, and numerous others.

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