It’s not just novelists who suffer from writer’s block; it can strike any of us at any time. For instance, think back to the last email you knew you had to write but had no idea how to get started. You probably spent what felt like a lifetime staring at a flashing cursor and blank screen, waiting for inspiration to arrive.
Writer’s block will forever be something we have to contend with, but there are plenty of ways to keep it at bay and ensure it’s dispelled as swiftly as possible whenever it arrives. What follows is our ten favourite, tried-and-tested tips for removing writer’s block. They’ll work for bloggers, copywriters and anyone else who needs to be able to write as freely as possible.
1. Write from outlines
Every piece of written content – be it a web page, blog post, email or blockbuster novel – is structured. There’s a beginning, middle and end. Simple. What matters, however, is how that beginning, middle and end is formed. If you simply start with a blank page, you’ll almost definitely encounter writer’s block early on.
Instead, it pays to write a brief outline. A few rough notes on the various key points you want to address, or specific quotes you want to include will help immeasurably if you stumble during the writing process.
2. Don’t start from the start
For some people, the process of writing literally starts at the start; the first few sentences flow out almost effortlessly and set the pace and tone for the rest of the piece. We’re not all that lucky, though, which is why you should always consider starting the writing process from where you feel most inspired.
That might be the ‘wrap up’ of a blog post or a certain section of your business homepage, but whatever it is, start there, rather than forcing yourself to do so from the beginning. The rest can come later.
3. Speak to someone
There’s no getting away from the fact that writing is something you’ll generally do by yourself, but if writer’s block strikes and you can’t think of a way forward, try speaking to someone.
A friend, family member or colleague may give you the inspiration you need. Tell them what it is you’re writing about and explain that you’ve hit a snag. Just like any conversation, you never know where it’ll lead and there’s a strong chance you’ll come out the other side with a renewed sense of purpose about whatever it is you’re working on.
4. Change your writing environment
The environment in which we write has a significant effect on our creativity and inspiration. So, if words aren’t forthcoming, try a different writing location.
There are a couple of ways you can do this. One is to change your physical writing location (move to a different office, room or head outside), while the other is to change the writing tool you’re using. Try a different application or working in a stripped-down app instead (i.e one with less menus and other distractions).
5. Free writing
In tip 2, we mentioned the ability some people have to simply write from the start without trouble, and while it’s true that not all of us are blessed with the ability to do that every time something needs to be written, we’re all capable of ‘free writing’.
This is the process of just writing, no matter what words end up on the page. Start with a title and simply start typing. Even if it’s utter gibberish, just the process of getting some words down will help you rid yourself of writer’s block. You never know, there may be some gems of sentences in there once you’ve finished!
6. Time yourself
We all work a little faster and in a more focused fashion if we know there’s a deadline looming.However, rather than busting a gut to reach a deadline set by your boss or customer, start the process of writing by timing yourself throughout.
Work in chunks of twenty-five to thirty minutes and stop writing whenever the timer sounds. Promise yourself that you won’t do anything else during that time and get down to business. Try it – you’ll be surprised by how focused this makes you and how efficient it is at banishing instances of writer’s block.
7. Turn off distractions
The Internet, email, radio, TV and noisy colleagues are all distractions that might cause the onset of writer’s block, so try and remove yourself from them whenever possible.
Writing requires significant focus and that can only come if you’re concentrating on one thing at a time.Checking your email every five minutes or responding to social media notifications will only get in the way of your writing, and it’s only you who can prevent this from happening.
8. Conduct further research
You can spend hours researching a piece of content you need to write only to find that writer’s block still strikes.
This is frustrating – particularly when you’ve put those hours in beforehand – but you shouldn’t be deterred. It may simply be that you haven’t researched enough.In fact, you should never stop researching – it’s a constant process. Make time in your writing schedule to stop, take a breather, and head back to your research. What else can you discover about the topic in question? What have others written about it? Is there any chatter on social media that can help you out? Don’t assume that research is a one-off process.
9. Watch, listen to and read other content
Separate to the time you spend researching should be time spent watching, listening to and reading other content on the subject you’re writing about. Other people are great sources of inspiration, and the more you immerse yourself in a topic, the more you’ll feel inspired to write about it. Spend time sourcing as many blogs, podcasts and videos as possible and keep them in your back pocket for whenever you have ten minutes to spare.
This isn’t plagiarism or a form of copying, either – it’s simply getting to know your subject better and being inspired by others. It’s how the best writers on the planet get their work done.
Only write when you want to
There’s one sure-fire way to bring on writer’s block, and that’s to write when it’s the last thing you want to do.
Inspiration can strike at any time, and it’s better to wait for those moments than to force yourself to write something – even if a deadline is looming. If you’ve tried every other tip in this list and the words still won’t flow, take a break and do something entirely different. Only return when you’re ready.
Don’t let writer’s block beat you. Accept that it will happen, and use our tips above to build a war chest that’s capable of combating it whenever it strikes. The more you work our tips into the process of your writing, the less of an issue writer’s block will become.