10 tips for fighting writer’s block

Changes in venue or routine can help, as can doing a bit of research—formal or otherwise. Read on, Macduff.

At some point, it happens to all of us. You sit down to write, but the words are just stuck.

It’s frustrating. The idea flowed so perfectly in your head earlier, as you thought about whatever it is you wanted to say. For whatever reason, as you sit down to write, the words just aren’t flowing now.

Writer’s block can happen for a variety of reasons, but pulling out your hair or throwing your laptop against the wall won’t solve anything. It’s important to find the right methods for battling this debilitating issue.

Instant publishing means constant pressure to produce. Just as in “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy,” the important thing is not to panic. Don’t let pressures and distractions keep you from your goals. To fix the problem, you have to break your routine. Here are 10 ways to accomplish that:

1. Write at different times. If you usually write in the afternoon, try writing in the morning or evening. The change in times may be enough to create a fresh outlook. For me, early morning is a great time to be productive, before the morning meetings and before the distractions set in. For the night owls out there, late-evening hours may be a good time to get some uninterrupted work in.

2. Write from a different location. This is easy for me. I get about 90 percent of my work done from various coffee shops. When the weather cooperates, try doing that thing that your teachers and bosses would never let you do—bring that computer outside. Fresh air on a comfortable day has a way of changing our outlook on life in general, which is good news for you and your project.

3. Empty the dishwasher, go for a walk, or take a shower. Take 10 minutes and complete whatever your physical distraction may be. Sometimes the simple act of stepping away from whatever it is that you’re doing can bring the creative ideas. It frees your brain from the immediate demands of creativity.

4. Google it. Face it, in this day and age somebody’s probably written about your subject before. Seeing how someone else approached it may be just the catalyst you need to put you over the top. So go ahead and take a peek, and pepper in some additional perspective to whatever it is you were trying to say.

5. Just keep writing. I know it’s not what you want to hear, but sometimes the act of writing—even when you don’t want to—is just what the doctor ordered. Remember: Write first, edit later. Work through the whole document, then go through and make your tweaks and improvements. If you’re too hard on yourself out of the gate, you can stifle creativity.

6. Read everything. Read fiction. Read non-fiction. Read newspapers and magazines. Read other blogs. Heck, read the back of the cereal box. The important thing is to keep reading, and expand your comfort zone. It leads to creative ways to snap your writing rut. You may find the perfect spark in the unlikeliest place.

7. Put a little soul into it. Sometimes you’re stuck because you simply know better. You may be the author, but there’s not a lot original in what you’re saying. It may be time to add your thoughts and your voice, just to put your stamp on the piece. This is a great way to make it stand out in a world full of competition.

8. Headphones are a writer’s best friend. OK, so it doesn’t have quite the impact as Nicole Kidman’s character singing “Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend” in “Moulin Rouge,” but headphones are really important. Maybe not everyone is a music nut like I am (I love my classic rock), but headphones offer an advantage for the writer looking to concentrate. They allow everything but the screen in front of you to fade into the background.

9. Turn blogging into a game of speed chess. Give yourself a deadline, and meet it. Sometimes comfort creeps in, and writers are a little reluctant to take a risk. You still need to create a smart, thoughtful post, but a deadline provides powerful motivation.

10. Close out social media. Online distractions can be as plentiful as offline distractions. Facebook messenger has a way of blowing up just when you’re trying to work on your most important piece. So, hunker down and concentrate for best results.

Matthew L. Brennan is a Chicago freelance writer specializing in website content, ghost blogging, and other corporate writing services for businesses of all sizes. A version of this article originally appeared on Business 2 Community.

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