How long have you been sitting in front of your notebook staring at a blank document?
You started putting few sentences down, then deleted those. Then you repeated this process. You hate your ideas. You feel like your brain is empty. You don’t know where to start your writing.
What you’re going through is an experience with writer’s block.
If you’re a freelance writer, making money writing is your job. If you experience this situation, you still have to continue and hit the deadline of your client.
If you’re a blogger, you might face writer’s block, too.
If you’re a novelist or some other kind of writer, you’ve probably already faced writer’s block.
Regardless of what you’re writing, you’re not alone. Every single one of us experience writer’s block. I do, too! The writer’s block hurts me every single time while sitting down to start writing.
Fortunately, I have found several ways to overcome the issue. Here, below, are 10 tips to avoid writer’s block.
1: Plan Your Writing
Innocent writers understand having a plan helps in improving productivity. It helps them write faster and even better.
According to the content marketing interview of 26 expert bloggers, before starting to writer, the bloggers try to contextualize the work using different techniques and styles for writing… depending on the type of writing they’re doing.
A plan helps the writer to identify the key factors which lead to successful targetings such as context, audience, and purpose. With the facts, the writer will be able to perceive what voice should be used in the article. What’s more, he/she can limit the scope of writing.
But… how can you plan your writing?
There are so many ways and tools that can be used for planning your writing. For instance, I use FreeMindMap for brainstorming and planning the article. I first put together all the ideas related to the topic that I’m going to write, then I organize them.
I also follow Lorraine Reguly, a writer and editor from wordingwell.com. Because she is a freelance blogger, too, she uses H tags technique to outline and plan her writing — Lorraine put H1 on the top of the article, put H2 for support ideas, and H3 sub-ideas for H2. (She’s also an English teacher, and helps me improve my English by writing correctly all the time. And she’s available to answer questions on Facebook. She is a great friend of mine!)
2: Write in Your High-Productive Time
Choosing the best time for writing is crucial for speeding up the writing process. Generally, I could write 5,000 and even 10,000+ words in the morning at a coffee shop while struggling for 3000 words at home.
I have no idea what the difference is between working at the coffee shop and at home, because I drink coffee in both places, but I’m much creative when I’m in a different environment.
So what is your best time and place for writing?
Identify what your best time or place is, then focus on working with it. If you’re not ready to recognize any best time or place, you’ll need to track it now.
You can use a spreadsheet to track your time and productivity, such as word count, where you are when you’re writing a lot, then you’ll see some patterns emerge.
Once you find your optimal writing time, you can plan your writing time accordingly.
3: Kill All the Socializing
Socializing is the activity which interrupts most writers and prevents them from continuous writing. Here, I’m thinking of your 100+ Facebook, Twitter, and email notifications. Or the fact that your phone is ringing, or perhaps someone messaged you.
How do you deal with those notifications and distractions?
When I see any message notification, I always switch to Facebook to respond to the message. Usually, somebody asks me questions related to blogging or online business, or the client has queries regarding the freelance project.
Of course, I’m afraid of being considered rude or afraid of losing the client if I don’t reply right away.
However, responding fast isn’t always the right solution, because whenever I switch to social media, I desire not to come back to my writing! Sometimes I lose the feeling for writing. Please do not repeat this mistake!
Instead, you should avoid these distractions and, if possible, try to write offline or block all social media activities. What’s more, strive to get away from your phone.
Keep in mind, you’ll go back for them after finishing the first draft.
4: Limit Your Time for Writing
Seems to me that it doesn’t relate to writer’s block, but actually it does.
Do you sometimes skip writing due to your other duties or activities, or even forget to write? If you do, you might be an unofficial writer, since you didn’t prioritize writing as your main duty.
Imagine you’re working as an employee for a local company. You have to accomplish all your duties at your desk. You work from 8 am to 5 pm. Even if you don’t want to work, you still push yourself and finish the daily checklist.
Scheduling or limiting your time for writing will assist you in combatting writer’s block, as it always forces you to complete the duty.
How do you manage the time for writing?
There are 6 hours and 2 shifts in my blogging schedule. The first 3 hours is writing time, which, as I told you earlier, is spent in the coffee shop. The other 3 hours always start in the afternoon at 2 pm, which is my time for social media and marketing.
Managing your time and focusing on writing help to avoid distractions. By setting a schedule for yourself, you feel like you’re “on duty,” and what you have to do is to finish your job.
5: Avoid Procrastination
Now that you have a regular schedule and put yourself on duty, you find you still cannot get all the things done. And once again, you miss the deadline.
Procrastination is your killer issue. You keep putting things off until “later.”
People often procrastinate, even if they aren’t intending to. Maybe they think that the work isn’t so important. Or maybe they think that it’s possible to achieve it in the next few hours. Or whatever.
I, too, procrastinate. I planned and set my goal for writing, but every single time it comes to write, I always delay till the time is over.
Finally, I end up doing nothing. So nothing is possible, since I do nothing almost all the time. ;)
When procrastination makes you powerless, find some ways to figure out how to solve it.
I’m a person who hates being embarrassed, and so I never embarrass anyone or let anyone embarrass me. I also try to use accountability to gain an advantage from my habit and use it to overcome the procrastination. Usually, I post the plan and goal to social media and tag some close friends whenever procrastination makes me not want to work.
When the plan and goal went public, I always inspire to achieve those as fast as possible, because I am afraid some friends will put me down. There are so many ways to avoid procrastination and you can find more in this video.
6: Switching the Format of the Document
I’m not sure it would be a good solution for you but is working well for me.
When having no words to put down on the topic, or my computer is bright and my online friends or contacts are bothering me with a bunch of messages, I find difficult to continue. At this time, I switch the document format, such as changing the font name or size, and I even try to change the background of the Microsoft Word interface.
The only stupid thing I could recognize is that I hate the Arial font, so I avoid using it as the default font. However, whenever I switch to Arial, I always know what to write!
Try finding something you can change regarding your writing format. Find what works for you!
7: Ignore Grammatical Errors While Writing
Back in 2013, I received a criticism on LinkedIn and it hurt me so much that I became afraid to write even a single sentence, and skipped writing any article for months.
After two months, I went back to write again, but the criticism came to mind and made me scroll up and down to find the mistakes in the article. I deleted so much that, eventually, my work was a blank paper.
To achieve your goal of writing, you’ll have to write whatever that flows into your mind, and ignore every rule and make mistakes while writing the first draft. You can always fix things later in the editing step of the writing process.
This method of writing is often called “stream-of-consciousness” writing, or “freewriting.”
It’s also the first method mentioned in Lorraine’s article on Problogger about innovative ways to create a first draft.
8: Use Speech Recognition to Write
I’m an unhealthy person, honestly. I have serious dyspepsia so cannot sit too long when writing. My back hurts and makes me vomit while struggling to finish the draft so I cannot continue sitting in front of my notebook.
Speech recognition technology is so useful at these times. It allows me to speak to the computer and lets computer write for me. This is much more comfortable and I can stand up or walk around to relax my back.
Sometimes, even if sickness doesn’t hurt me, I still use speech recognition software because it helps me to avoid writer’s block. Speaking to the computer is much easier than sitting and writing.
Because many people are using Google Docs to store their writing, you can read this article about how to enable speech recognition so you can try this practice.
9: Listen to Music While Writing
Lifestyles and habits change as you age. I used to enjoy music while working and could not work without it, but now I don’t often do this. But music can help your creativity.
According to 10 ways to overcome writer’s block of Kendal Jenner, lyrics to music can help you to come up with great ideas. The music is an invisible tool which helps in inventing creative juice and add more ideas to your brain.
You should enjoy few songs before you’re going to write any article. You can listen to music while writing the article, too. It also sometimes helps to reduce stress!
10: Be Healthy
Your health is everything.
Nobody succeeded without living a healthy life. An illness can contribute to a lack of being creative, and will certainly contribute to writer’s block. You have to take your health seriously, and take regular breaks if you’re working or writing for a long time.
Spending a few minutes for closing your eyes will help to reduce the stress on your body when you’re writing (or trying to write). Make sure you get adequate rest. Mostly, you lose over 40% of your creative power when you don’t get enough sleep.
Enjoying 30 minutes a day for exercise will help give you a good physical well-being.
If you’re healthy, you’ll be able to do anything you set your mind to, including writing better and faster!
Writer’s block affects everyone, but it can be overcome.
If you use these 10 tips, you’ll become more effective and creative, and it will show in your writing. Your writing productivity will skyrocket, and you will be able to write easily, at your best times. By having a plan and sticking to it, you’ll develop a new writing habit that will benefit you.
By switching things up, listening to music, avoiding distractions from social media, adding exercise to your daily routine, utilizing freewriting for writing your first draft, and even using speech recognition software to help you, you’ll be able to increase your writing productivity and overcome writer’s block quickly.
If you do all of these things, you’ll become a better and faster writer in no time