This is a new piece by Miz Sarah Harris on a topic I’m sure we all struggle with, even if writing is not your primary profession like me. Please enjoy, and be sure to make her feel welcome by dropping a comment below.
Writers come in all shapes and sizes. Hardcopy, web, journalism, fiction, blogs… They all have something in common. Writer’s block. This is especially painful if you depend on the written word for your income, or you depend on the written word to market your income (bloggers, I’m looking at you.)
You need to produce those words and they need to be substantial, make sense, be engaging, and be on time. You need to be on topic, investigative, original, and be of real value. You sit down to work and nothing. Nothing is flowing. The angles don’t come; the words are trite and bland. The idea you want to express just hovers out of reach.
Writer’s block is extremely frustrating both personally and professionally. When your words and thoughts become stagnant and dull, YOU feel stagnant and dull. How do you fight your way out? How do you find your way back to creativity and inspiration?
The most important thing to investigate if you’ve been suffering from writer’s block for a long time is your health. Are you getting enough sleep and eating right? Do you need to see the doctor? Has something disruptive happened in your life? If any of this is true, you need to take the proper steps to correct it. Now.
Next, just write.
I know, I know. You can’t write – that’s the problem! Switch gears. Write about something else. Write something not meant for publication. Describe in detail what happened when you woke up today. What color were your pajamas?
What did you put in your coffee? What color was the mug? Just how annoying is your neighbor’s dog? The idea is to put you into a completely different mind space than what you’re blocked about. It will reinforce the fact that yes; your brain can still produce words.
Think about what inspires you. It can be something completely frivolous, such as a daisy. It can be something as huge as the existence of life. Artwork, scenery, tranquility, the woods, the mountains, the ocean, the color pink… Do whatever you can to get yourself into that space. Buy the daisies and put them on your desk.
Plan a trip to the ocean or museum. If you can’t stand the city sounds and find them distracting, plan a day trip to the country (and make sure that laptop or notebook goes with you.) Put yourself in the atmosphere conducive to your own inspiration.
Write down the blurbs. You’re waiting at the red light and a sentence or thought pops into your head. Write it down. Be sure to keep a notebook with you at all times so you don’t lose the opportunity. Sometimes a thought just strikes us, we don’t write it down, and by the time we get to our office, the thought is lost.
And so are you.
These are wonderful little opportunities to catch your ideas that come when you’re thinking about something else.
Use a schedule. Some people prefer freeform writing when the urge takes them. But what do you do if the urge doesn’t strike? Set up an appointment with yourself each day. Set parameters, 4 hours, or 500 words, whatever works for your style. Then write about that neighbor’s dog.
You have to be consistent.
But the more you find your surrounding inspiration, and the more you implement varying ideas, the more you’ll train yourself to produce those words and use those hours. Your brain will understand that NOW it’s time and go to work.
Switch to a different project. It seems simplistic, but if you have multiple projects, perhaps you just need to switch to a different one altogether for a time. Stop trying to force the issue, and come back later. It could just be that you have competing thoughts warring their way out of your head.
Whether you’re promoting your business via a blog, writing a technical manual, or writing the latest greatest fiction, sometimes it all just stops working. Your creativity is blocked, so your words are blocked. Implement these strategies, and get back to work. You have a deadline, after all.