Is writer’s block something you suffer from? Some people don’t have any problems at all, however, even the best writer’s still have an occasional block where they are stuck and not sure how or where to go from that particular point.
Following are 15 helpful hints to help you with writer’s block:
- Identify your creative time – is it early a.m., late night, or the middle of the day. That’s when to attack your work.
- Study what’s working and, if possible, what’s not working.
- Research, research, research. Read promotions and immerse yourself in the product, whether it’s intellectual (written material) or physical (vitamins, gold coins, air filters, whatever). Google everything that’s related to your subject.
- Identify the “point of maximum anxiety” of your prospect: what keeps your prospect up at night.
- Identify the USP (unique selling proposition), the big idea of the main promise of your product.
- Make an outline and begin filling it in.
- Start ANYWHERE! If you can nail the headline and lead first, great! If not, write anything – the offer, the reply, the back cover, the close (think of the last thing you’d say to someone to get them to buy this book, then start working your way toward that line), sidebars, centrefolds, flyers, bios, premium copy, ANYTHING!
- Set some reasonable goals for what you want to achieve each day in your writing.
- “Almost cheating”: Type the name of the project, the date, and your name in the upper left corner. Then type a page, something like a memo to yourself and other readers. Describe what you see as the core message of what you’re about to write. Include a rough idea of how you expect it to look when it’s done.
- “Cheating”: Jot down notes and ideas as you prepare. Then transfer them to your computer, punching them up as you go. Guess what? You’re already past the “blank page.”
- “Advanced cheating”: If you know you always tend to have a problem with empty pages, record your first conversations about your topic or story. You can use a little handheld recorder to do this. Transcribe the recording, and delete any fluff and irrelevant material. Start organising any useful material into notes and/or sections of your project.
If You Get Stuck Anywhere Along the Way
- Take a break. Run, walk, meditate, go bicycling, listen to music … then come back to it.
- If that doesn’t work, you need to do more work. Go back to your research and dig some more. Go back to your outline and see if some part doesn’t jump out at you as ready to go.
- Brainstorm with another writer.
- Do a writing challenge. Here is a great 30-day Free writing challenge to help you. www.authoracademy.com.au/challenge
If you use these 15 techniques, you should have banished writer’s block. If it persists, put your work away and get a good night’s sleep. Start fresh in the morning and, in all likelihood, you’ll nail it, otherwise, below is another technique that I find very useful.
A great way to stimulate your creativity and come up with ideas is free writing. This means sitting down with a notebook and scrawling whatever pops into your head. With free writing, you don’t worry about whether it’s any good or even has a point at all. Just write. This is an especially good technique for clearing writer’s block.
Why Free Write?
Free writing is a great activity to enhance creativity for a few reasons. One reason is that it trains you to silence your inner critic and just create. It teaches you to let the ideas flow, which is important for any kind of creative activity. It’s a kind of drill you can go through to train your mind.
It can also be great for brainstorming ideas. Your free writing may not yield anything you can use. It may just help you get the flow started. But it also might bring forth a great idea. You may hit upon the idea you’ve been looking for as you ‘free associate’. After writing, go back over what you’ve written and highlight any good ideas you find there.
How to Free Write
Start by giving yourself a time limit. Set a limit of, for example, ten minutes. Set a timer so that you don’t have to pay attention to the time. Start the timer and write. Don’t stop writing until the ten minutes is finished. It’s a great idea to find a special location or place to write like your bedroom, lounge room, garden etc.
While you’re writing, don’t edit. Just put the words down and tell yourself you’ll go back later. Even typos, misspellings and grammar errors are okay. Even if what you’re writing isn’t usable, free writing is still serving its purpose by helping to get your idea flow going.
Coming up Blank
What if you don’t know what to write? Especially when you’re free writing for the first time, this can happen. You may get stuck wondering where to go next.
When this happens, keep writing the same word or phrase over and over until you’re unstuck. As you rewrite the word or phrase, your brain is still working, which means it isn’t really stuck at all. Something new will come. Whatever you do, don’t stop writing.
Once you get into the habit of free writing, you won’t get stuck so often and more ideas will spring forth.
Your Free Writing Topic
Most writers myself included recommend choosing a topic for your free writing. Write down this topic at the top of the page or find an image on anything and paste that to the top of your page. Don’t ‘try’ to write about it or explain it. Let it be the starting point for your flow of words.
For example, if you’re brainstorming a product idea that addresses a problem people have, you can write this problem at the top of your page. Write something like ‘weight loss’ and then free associate for ten minutes. At best, you’ll come up with something in your writing. At least, you’ll get yourself started thinking about weight loss.
However, you don’t have to have a topic for your free writing. You can simply sit down with the pen, paper and timer, and see where your mind goes. In fact, this is a good way to get started when you’re not really sure what to work on. Your mind will naturally draw you into whatever is most interesting to you at the time, or something you’re particularly passionate about, or maybe something that’s been at the back of your mind. Free writing can be a great self-discovery technique.
Practice, Practice, Practice
Free writing may seem awkward or strange at first, but it’s something that gets better with practice. Devote just five or ten minutes to it each day and you’ll see improvements in your creativity. You may even find you can come up with some innovative ideas in just a few minutes that you wouldn’t have discovered otherwise.
Here is a great way to practice your free writing to help with writer’s block. This is a free 30-day writing challenge: