Overcoming writer’s block is never an easy task, especially for bloggers who are faced with so much information to write about and so many unique ways to present their content.
In the midst of a block, you may feel as if it’s all been said before, but bear in mind there is always room for your unique voice and perspective. As Rachel Kushner, author of The FlameThrowers and Telex from Cuba so eloquently states, “The idea is to use your secret idiosyncratic strength, just exploit the hell out of it, make of it a life, a synthetic reality.” Sometimes it’s the very traits responsible for your writer’s block–those strange, frustrating idiosyncrasies–that hold the key to unlocking your own authentic brilliance.
Most writers experience a block more than once in their lives, even famous ones such as American author F. Scott Fitzgerald and the Russian Leo Tolstoy have faced the problem. The reasons for writer’s block are myriad, and the result can be incredible stress, frustration and, in the worst case, career stagnation. Writer’s block isn’t an intractable problem, however. The 6 techniques outlined below make up some of the tried and true best practices, employed by experienced writers to overcome.
1. Implement a Writing Schedule and Deadline
Although it’s your own blog site, you will have to carve out a time to write and learn how to keep a deadline because your readers will be waiting for your posts. By scheduling your posts at regular intervals, you can create constructive pressure on yourself to write while also potentially increasing your readership because your readers know they can expect new content on a regular schedule.
For most writers, knowing that others are expecting results helps them create better content faster. Additionally, by scheduling your writing sessions at the same time each day, you optimize your own mental faculties for the task. Your mind will begin anticipating the upcoming task, easing the transition from other life activities to the reflective writing state.
2. Manage Your Writing Staff
I know what you’re thinking: But I don’t have a staff. Au contraire, my friend! According to blogger James Chartrand, all writers “have a mental factory hard at work in their heads.” Chartrand suggests recognizing three critical roles within your own writing process. She calls them the Visionary, the Draft Worker, and the Editor, and admonishes that you give each her due by allowing each to work independently without impingement from the other roles.
In other words, recognize your own inner visionary–lend her free reign in coming up with the brilliant and fantastical ideas that only she can imagine. Don’t let the draft writer try to launch into the drafting until she has completed her task, and reign in your inner Editor from criticizing her. Likewise, when the Visionary has completed her work, hand the project over to your Draft Writer and let her do what she does best–turn that brilliant, ephemeral idea into smooth prose–without interruption from either the Visionary or the Editor.
And lastly, let the Editor have her time–now and only now is the time to question the idea’s validity, the function of the prose, the piece’s construction. Your Editor is your quality control when kept within the right parameters. Let your inner Editor have free reign over the whole process and you will be doomed before you even begin–with all your promising but fledgling ideas being shot down before they have a chance to coalesce. Check out Chartrand’s complete article “How to Unblock Your Writing and Create Effortless Words”–I recommend printing it out and posting it somewhere prominent in your workspace. For me, it has been an invaluable resource.
3. Keep a Journal
Whichever format you prefer for keeping notes, be it a pen and notepad or your smart phone, keep it with you at all times. You never know where you will encounter a good concept. We’ve all had the experience—you stumble on something brilliant but have nowhere to jot it down and then (horror of horrors!) forget the thing!
If you keep your notebook with you at all times, you will never forget that idea once you’re sitting in front of your computer. You can also create an outline for your story in your notepad when you have some downtime, so you can easily trace your story flow without worrying about what to write next.
4. Broaden Your Sources for Inspiration
As creatures of habit, we’re all prone to falling into ruts in the activities we engage in regularly. Sometimes you merely need to broaden your inspirational sources to find that golden idea. You can ask your readers, get ideas from celebrities and TV shows, pick older posts and repackage them with a new and topical spin, or interview someone, according to the infographic entitled Content Writing Tips for Beginners.
Don’t forget the power of your personal experience. You may think you lead a relatively boring life, but if you look at the fine detail you’ll find stories that resonate with others and that you can indeed write compelling and interesting blog content.
5. Write ‘Morning Pages’
In The Artist’s Way, Julia Cameron suggests a practice she calls ‘morning pages’ to help stimulate creativity and organize your thoughts. Each day write out three pages of whatever comes to mind.
Most of what you write down will be random, cluttered and not especially useful. But in the midst of running to-do lists and rambling thoughts you might discover a nugget—an interest you’d like to explore further, an unanswered question, or a personal reflection. ‘Morning pages’ has the added benefit of clearing the sludge from your writing mind so that you can better focus on and articulate your chosen article concept.
6. Take a Break
Some writers take a breather by having a brief walk to ease their minds of the pressure of the writing process. “If you get stuck, get away from your desk. Take a walk, take a bath, go to sleep, make a pie, draw, listen to music, meditate, exercise; whatever you do, don’t just stick there scowling at the problem,” advises two-time Man Booker Award winner Hilary Mantel.
Often, the simple act of stepping away from your computer is enough to kickstart your writing flow organically. Julia Cameron suggests taking a weekly creative outing to stimulate new ideas. Pick a place—a park, museum, city center, or office complex—somewhere you can unobtrusively observe others in their natural environment. Bring a notepad and record your observations. You may find your next article in the most unlikely of scenarios.
Writer’s block is a natural part of the professional writing experience. The 6 best practices outlined above can bring you back into your flow. Take heart in the knowledge that making peace with writer’s block and getting past your fear of it is half the battle.
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