- Books, Literature, and Writing
6 Ways To Beat Writer's Block
Some writers never have to worry about writer's block. Ideas and words seem to flow endlessly for these creative souls. They move seamlessly from one project to the next, with perfect fluidity.
Then there are the rest of us. All too often we stare at a blank screen for hours on end, searching for the words to get started. Often we already have a great idea for our article or story but just can't find that perfect first sentence.
If you spend too much time trying to figure out how to beat writer's block, you'll never actually get the words on the page. If you're having a hard time getting started, try one of these tips to get the words flowing again.
Write something, write anything. Some writers find the blank page intimidating, and others see it as being so filled with possibilities that they just don't know where to start. All that pristine white space begging for some ink, the cursor blinking at you in anticipation, sometimes it helps to just get some words on the page to break the ice. Write out your favorite recipe, the lyrics to your favorite song, whatever pops into your head. Many times, that will be enough to break the writer's block and unlock that stubborn brain.
If that blinking cursor intimidates you, try going old school. By keeping a pen and pad of paper on hand you can jot notes or start your piece by writing it out by hand. Many writers find their creativity again by actually feeling the words flow from their hands like this. My personal favorite combo is the old stand-by composition tablet and Ticonderoga #2 black pencil.
Sometimes a little visual input is all that's required to get around writer's block and get the words flowing again. Go to your favorite writing space and get comfortable. Pick a random object and describe it in detail. Whether it's a book on a shelf, the family pet, or the room itself, write about it. Describe the color, shape, or whatever comes to mind. You could even write about the blank page in front of you and why you think the blinking cursor is mocking you. If you still can't put words on the page, have a look at Amazon.com. Pick a random item and describe it. This is a simple exercise to get your brain warmed up to the task of writing, but it's well worth the effort.
Dump Writer's Block
Write a Dear John letter to writer's block. It may sound silly, but it works for a lot of writers. Sit down and write a breakup letter to writer's block. Begin with "Dear Writer's Block", and write a heartfelt letter explaining why the relationship is over. Remember, writer's block doesn't take rejection very well, so be firm!
Create Your Own Audience
This is especially helpful for copywriters. If you're writing copy for a specific product or service, don't just write to a target audience. Instead, create a single member of that target audience. Pick a name for your imaginary reader. Think about what they look like and describe them. Write about their job, where they live, the kinds of issues they face in their daily life, where they shop; create a whole life for them. If you just can't find the words to do this exercise, pick a friend or relative instead of trying to create a character from scratch. The point is to have one specific person in mind.
Now that you have your audience member, write your copy to that person and that person alone. Don't tell them how your product will solve all of the world's problems. Tell them how it will solve their particular problems. This whole exercise should help to break your writer's block and spark your creativity; and by writing to that one person, your writing will be more focused and carry much more impact.
Know When To Quit
If you've done everything in your power to get started but aren't getting results, come back and try again later. Sometimes your brain has set other priorities for you and there's nothing you can do to change it. Forcing yourself to write will not help the situation, and may even make it worse. Besides, forced writing is no fun for the writer or the reader.
Instead of forcing the words onto the page, take a break. When it comes to writer's block, the old adage that the best way to solve some problems is to stop thinking about them is especially true. Try getting out into the fresh air. Take a long walk to clear your head; you never know where you'll find inspiration.
As long as you're out in the world, think like a writer! Try to notice everything around you. How does the air smell? What color are the flowers? Take everything in and describe it in your head.
Find A New Angle
If you're trying to make money writing, chances are good that you'll occasionally find yourself writing on topics that hold no interest for you. When that happens, try to find an interesting angle on a boring topic. Whether you've found a high paying keyword about corn flakes that are shaped like US states, or a client has asked for a report on the aerodynamic properties of fruit flies, you're going to have to find a way to make it more interesting to you if you want it to be interesting to your reader (or your client!).
The truth is, there are very few topics that are completely boring from start to finish. Instead of looking at the whole topic, break it down and look at one or two aspects of it. You're bound to find something that sparks your interest.
Take the oddly shaped corn flake topic, for example. Did you know that a corn flake shaped like the state of Illinois was once sold on eBay for $1350? It's not Earth shattering news, but it does raise a question or two; not the least of which is "Who would pay $1350 for a corn flake?" Finding an unusual angle or adding little factoids like that not only helps you write on an otherwise boring topic, but also keeps the reader interested in what you have to say.
Keep Writing To Beat Writer's Block
Try one of these tips, or try them all, but they won't help a bit if you don't write. By writing something every day, no matter how long or short it may be, you can keep the words flowing and leave writer's block behind for good. Whether you write an article, a short story, or just do some journaling, making the time to write something every day will keep your brain engaged and your writing fresh.
It also helps if you can make it a habit. Pick a time of day that you are usually free and make that your writing time. If it becomes a habit, your subconscious mind knows when it will be called upon to write and it may put up less of a fuss.