It happens to all of us. Some days, the words just don’t come. But our deadlines aren’t going away, so what do you do?
I’ve had tremendous periods of writer’s block in my life. Once it lasted for nearly a year. I KNOW. In blog years, that would basically mean that I vanished from memory entirely.
Luckily, I haven’t experienced that in well over a decade, and during the transition to writing professionally I’ve found some tricks that help me combat the dreaded block.
I’ve developed a system, using a variety of great tools from other writers, that have helped me be able to write nearly daily. Here’s the list.
1. Sometimes? It’s just not going to happen. I know this doesn’t seem like advice, but here’s the thing. There are going to be days that the words simply won’t come. You’ll sit in front of the keyboard, it will take an hour to write one sentence you don’t hate on the sort of writing project you can normally do in your sleep. THIS IS TOTALLY OKAY. You have to forgive yourself when this happens. Pushing will NOT work. Take a walk, do your dishes, break out the vibrator – whatever you need to do to clear your head. Send emails letting folks know the projects might be a little late. It’s not the end of the world. Professionals juggle deadlines when they need to.
2. Step away from the keyboard. I know – CRAZY. Pen and paper? Say it ain’t so! Years ago I did The Artist’s Way (a series of writing exercises from Julia Cameron), and she suggested something called Morning Pages. Each morning you sit down and write three pages longhand, without pause. Don’t try to write well, or focus on anything, just use as a way to clear the detritus in your brain so that when you sit down at the keyboard the words will be there.
3. Kill your internal editor. This is SO HARD. But while you are writing, you shouldn’t be editing. Spelling, grammar, and dangling participles can be fixed AFTER you finish writing. Let the words flow without editing. This will help you find the words more easily, I promise. (This is another tip from Julia Cameron.)
4. Let the work “cook.” If you’ve struggled writing a post, and you’re pretty sure it sucks, don’t delete it and start over. Let it stay in draft form and take a break. Work on something else, talk a walk, again with the vibrator – let it stew for a few hours and come back to it later. You’ll be surprised how much better the work is then you thought.
5. Commit to fun. You can’t have all your writing be for work; you need to write something once in a while that you enjoy. A scathing movie review, the story of a girl’s night out, the tale of you meeting your partner – anything that’s soothing and fun to write. Trust me, this will help!
Good luck! Don’t let writer’s block get you down.