Two ways to blast through writer’s block

This tandem of techniques can help jump-start your writing by eliminating habits that short-circuit your creative process.


Writer’s block?

Please allow me to suggest a couple of remedies. In my 10 years as a corporate writing coach, I’ve seen hundreds of people get unstuck using these approaches.

1. List questions from the audience’s perspective.

2. List your ideas as fragments rather than full sentences.

Why list questions?

Writer’s block often comes from failing to adequately “pre-write”-that is, to think critically and do research before settling in to begin composing. If you pause to imagine yourself in your audience’s shoes and think from their perspective about your topic, it can be helpful to simply list questions that you think the audience might ask. This can jump-start an effective pre-writing effort that, once initiated, is likely to flow readily and will feel to you like intuition.

It could be that you have writer’s block simply because you weren’t ready to begin.

Why write fragments?

Another common reason for writer’s block is self-censoring too early in your writing process. Have you ever typed eight words across the page, then backspaced to delete three of them, typed two more, then backspaced over five, and so on? You can work for a half-hour like this and end up with a grand total of four words on the page.

We’ve all been there at some time or another, right?

Worse still, you might sit there just staring, unable to compose a first sentence while your mind races, unproductively creating and rejecting possibilities in rapid succession.

In these cases, try writing in fragments instead of sentences. This will release your over-active censor. Misspelled word? Fine. Wrong tone? No problem. Incomplete thought? All these are OK when listing your ideas as fragments.

When bad is, in fact, good

No need to make a pretty sentence—yet. It’s too early for that. You should be in “free-writing” mode, not “re-writing” mode. Free-writing means slapping it all down without finessing the details. In this phase, you have permission to write what I delicately spell in make-believe French“crappe.” Let me say it again: You have permission to write “crappe.” (Wink, wink.)

The act of listing your ideas as fragments breaks the unhelpful brainwave pattern that comes with editing/censoring/rewriting. Instead, you’ll slip without noticing into a different brainwave pattern conducive to creating rather than polishing. As with Remedy No. 1 above, you’ll find yourself in the flow and enjoying a feeling of writing intuitively.

Using these tips is like diving into the water. Once you rise and break the surface with either of these deliberate acts, you will find your natural buoyancy and enjoy new momentum and freedom.

If you want examples, check out this related post.

A former Associated Press news reporter, Lauren Edwards has been customizing writing workshops for PR professionals and engineers at companies including Intel, Yahoo, and Google for 10 years. This article first appeared on Content Creation & More.

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