How To Overcome Writer's Block and Reignite Your Creative Fire As a Freelance Writer
According to the Cambridge Dictionary, writer’s block is “the condition of being unable to create a piece of written work because something in your mind prevents you from doing it.” That “something” in your mind could be any number of things, from being overwhelmed by the writing task, or being distracted by other concerns.
But don’t be discouraged, because writer’s block is actually more common than we think. Even the most experienced freelance writers, bloggers, or even our favorite authors, encounter writer’s block. It can be overcome, with the help of some strategies listed below.
Strategies to Help You Overcome Writer’s Block
1. Just write.
Sometimes writer’s block happens because we become too self conscious about what to write and how to write it. We want it to be perfect. Maybe you're a virtual assistant working on a writing assignment with a deadline approaching, or maybe you feel pressured because you have followers whom you feel expect nothing but excellence from you. So you start typing, then change your mind because what you typed doesn’t seem to be that interesting, and you delete the entire thing and start over. You keep doing this for the next few hours until you realize you’ve accomplished nothing for the day. To counter this, you can do a technique called freewriting, also known as brainstorming. In freewriting, you write down the things that come to your mind as they come. Do not overthink. Forget format, grammar, punctuation, logical sentence flow and interesting anecdotes at this point, just write. There will be time for editing during the second pass of reviewing your article.
A mentor of mine once put it very simply: DO NOT KILL IDEAS. At the brainstorming stage, all ideas are welcome, no matter how out of this world they may be. Technology has made editing easier, thanks to our computers and laptops with their cut-paste-undo functions. So write first, edit later.
2. Have a set schedule for writing.
Plan the best time for you to write, depending on your situation. For many people, writing in the morning works for them, as this is when their minds are most clear, and the house is still quiet. For some freelance writers, like me, our best writing happens at night, when the rush of the day is over and everyone else is asleep.
Whatever your set schedule is, make sure to eliminate distractions during that set period. Do not browse your social media site or watch TV. Go to your “writing space”, or wherever you usually do your writing, and have some time by yourself. Writing is best done when you can hear yourself think in the peace and quiet.
3. Follow a writing ritual.
Some people do certain actions before writing, which they find helps them focus. American novelist Toni Morrison has shared that for her, it is getting up and making a cup of coffee while it is still dark, and drinking the coffee while watching the sunrise.
For me, taking a nice, hot bath, then playing calming music while sipping coffee helps jump start my creativity. If you find that a ritual helps, make them a habit and do them before you write.
4. Do something else creative.
If you have done the above strategies and your creative muse is still nowhere in sight, take a break and do some other creative activity. Do some illustrations, make some music, redesign your website, write something else other than the article you were supposed to be doing- the important thing is to keep the creative part of your brain active while not being over stressed by being stuck on a writing project. Eventually, the right ideas will come flowing in and you can get back to that writing assignment more efficiently.
5. Pay attention to your body.
The mind and the body are interconnected, and one reason why you may be experiencing that mental block is that your body needs to relax. When the body is relaxed, the mind will also be less stressed, and creativity will flow naturally. Do some stretches, jog, dance, or get a massage. Personally, I find that taking relaxing walks surrounded by nature helps ideas flow to me. Whatever it is that can help you relax physically, take some time to do it so you can go back to your writing refreshed and with a clearer mind.