Staring at a blank screen waiting for inspiration to strike. Trying to “get the juices flowing.” Banging your head against the desk because you just can’t seem to get the words out. Sound familiar?
Writer’s block affects everyone at some point. The key is not to give it power. The only way to beat writer’s block is to write through it.
You may be thinking “how can I write when I’m stuck and don’t have the words?” The answer is- do it anyway! Write words. Any words. They don’t have to make sense. Your sentences and paragraphs don’t have to be good. They just need to exist.
It’s always easier to write when you already have words on a page. I like to start with outlines and brain dumps. When I brain dump, I just type everything and anything that pops into my head related to the topic I’m writing about. Then I go in and organize my thoughts into bullets and an outline appears.
Every writer gets writer’s block. But as someone who writes for a living, there’s no way I can let it run my life, day, or hour. Because If I give in to writer’s block, nothing will get written. I won’t have anything to deliver to my clients.
We’re going to talk about how to overcome writer’s block and what causes writer’s block. But keep in mind that everyone is different and has their own way of doing things. What works for me may not work for you, but I’m going to give you a few tips about how to overcome writer’s block.
Where Do You Find Inspiration?
Everyone thinks they need to be inspired to write. Sometimes you just have to write whether inspiration hits you or not. There are a few places to start when you’re feeling uninspired.
The first place to turn, as with everything, is Google. Look up writers, blogs, or articles that you find inspiring. Visit people’s websites. Surf the internet. Writer’s block be damned, you are going to get words onto that page, even if you have to scour the internet to find the inspiration to do it!
When you’re really stuck, it’s always helpful to find articles that resonate with you. Find blogs or articles that express what you’re trying to say, and then write a better version of that. If you’re writing it in your own words you’re not plagiarizing, you’re just finding inspiration from others.
Think about the topics you care about. What could you talk about all day? If you’re looking for blog ideas, think about the types of things your clients are struggling with. What would be helpful for them to read from you? For example, what thoughts do you have about depression and anxiety in teenagers recovering from adverse childhood events that are worth putting out into the world?
How Do You Write When You Feel Stuck?
I mentioned that when I feel stuck I like to “brain dump.” Some people prefer pen and paper when doing this, others like to type. Whatever works for you is what you should do. The way to overcome writer’s block is to write through it. Jot down any and all ideas that come into your head. You may find that you thought you were writing about one thing but it turned into something completely different. And that’s ok!
Freewriting is one of my favorite ways to overcome writer’s block. This is when you just write non-stop for a certain amount of time. Set a timer and either take out a pen and paper or get your computer ready and just write until the timer goes off. If you don’t know what to say you can literally write “I don’t know what to say” over and over again until an idea pops into your head.
Sometimes ideas come out of freewriting and make it to the piece you’re working on. A lot of times that doesn’t happen. Either way, it’s ok. The whole point of freewriting is to get you out of your head and into a state of flow.
When you do start writing, don’t edit as you go. Commit to writing the shitty first draft. Don’t get bogged down in trying to make it good right away. Just write as much as you can and then walk away from it.
I like to give myself a few days to write a piece. I write the outline and brain dump, then I walk away. The next day I write the shitty first draft and walk away. After that, I’ll come back and edit it. Sometimes I even take another day and do a second pass at editing, depending on how much work the piece needs.
If you’re writing about something you care about, the ideas will eventually flow. Writer’s block doesn’t have to stand in the way of you writing the piece you want to write. Whenever you get writer’s block it’s annoying, but it’s no excuse not to write. You just have to power through in order to overcome writer’s block.
Aside from walking away and coming back the next day, it’s also a good idea to take breaks while you’re writing. Listen to music, take a walk, have a bite to eat, or just do something else. Arrange your space so that you feel comfortable. Sit in an area that feels good and is conducive to getting the creative juices flowing.
What Causes Writer’s Block?
Perfectionism causes writer’s block. We have this idea that we have to get everything right the first time. But I mentioned brain dumps, freewriting, outlining, and writing a shitty first draft. None of that is perfect. None of it is what the finished product will be. But it’s how you get started and overcome writer’s block.
Another cause of writer’s block is lack of motivation. If you’re procrastinating writing the thing, you’re probably not motivated to do it. When you just don’t want to, it feels like it’ll never get done.
When you’re writing, you need to limit distractions. Distractions get in the way of creating your best work and can be another cause of writer’s block.
How To Overcome Writer’s Block
By now this will come as no surprise to you that my answer to the question “how do I overcome writer’s block?” is to write anyway. Set a timer, starting writing, and don’t stop until it goes off. It could be a 15 or 30-minute timer- it doesn’t have to be hours. But you have to start somewhere.
Make sure not to edit as you go. That’s what the next phase is for. Your task is just to get all your ideas onto the page. Later you can go back and move them around, get rid of the stuff that doesn’t make sense, and add new thoughts that gel with the piece.
Let go of the idea that what you’re writing has to be perfect or even good. Just write!
What To Do If You Don’t Want To Worry About Writing
All of this is well and good if you want to write or have the time for it, but most of you don’t. That’s why you should hire a mental health copywriter to do the writing for you. I know how to work through writer’s block- I do it every day. Contact me to set up a free consultation. We’ll discuss how I can take the burden of writing off of your hands and shield you from the dreaded writer’s block.