Everyone gets it, and it’s totally unavoidable: the painful and dreaded Writer’s Block. It doesn’t matter if you blog about your kids, write about local business and politics, or talk about your favorite heavy metal bands, or even pen New York Times bestsellers; at one time or another, you’ll run smack into a creativity brick wall with ostensibly no way around it.
Not to worry, though, here are some tricks that will help you blast through that barrier and allow yourself to finish your article, blog post, or latest chapter of a book.
Often writers become overly concerned with the minutiae that they get hung up on and make their productivity come to a grinding halt. You may frequently get the urge to back up and edit what you have already written. You may worry yourself, “how am I going to phrase this?” or “should I say point A or point B next?” or “what is the best way to express my feelings on this?” Break out of this self-inflicted rut and simply start typing away.
You can accomplish this by what some call “free writing”. To do this, you set aside a pre-determined amount of time (5 minutes, 15 minutes, or 30 minutes), start writing, and “never look back”. Write whatever ideas pop into your brain. Don’t worry about precise details, don’t worry about spelling and grammatical errors, and don’t worry that what you’re writing may not flow together smoothly – it probably won’t. The key is to get your thoughts on your computer or tablet screen as quickly as possible. Just keep typing and plugging away at it until the time is up. You can always edit and spell check later, and change words around, add adjectives, or delete entire chunks of writing.
What does the other side say about it?
If applicable, read an article or blog post from an opposing point of view, and then type out some counterarguments and statements as you read their article over.
Jot it down and reuse it later
Here’s a great tip that may not help you now but can do wonders for you later: write or type out little snippets of thought. Just document whatever comes in your head, in the middle of the day or night, even as you are performing other tasks, and even if it has absolutely nothing to do with what you’re currently writing about in your current blog posting or Word document. It may be clever, coherent ideas, or pure gibberish. It could be single sentences or short paragraphs. At a later date, you can come back to these, possibly combine two or more together, or expand upon a short paragraph and make it a full-blown blog post. The point is to have a well of ideas and words to dip into whenever your mind becomes “dry”.
Create an unpublished blog post or simply create a text document on your computer, add these snippets of thought, and use them when you need a topic or thoughts on a particular subject. You might be able to simply “plug them in” to an article on which you may be working, or create a brand-new article from scratch.
Outline your thoughts
Before really digging into your article and filling out the fine details, outline what you want to say. Come up with the important points, or an intro, a problem, and a resolution, and then once you have those add the less significant points and details.
Take a break!
Do something totally unrelated to writing or blogging. Get away from the computer. Exercise, stretch, or get some fresh air and go for a walk.
Turn off the noise
A distracted mind can often be less productive. Turn off your mobile phone or put it into airplane mode. Trust me, you won’t be missing much, and the world won’t miss you. You’ll be able to better focus on the task at hand. If you absolutely need to use your phone throughout the day for calls and texts for emergencies, turn your phone upside-down and only get up to answer it if it is important.
As you sit at your computer, turn off all instant messaging programs, Facebook, YouTube, Wikipedia, Twitter, internet browsers, and anything else that may distract you or tempt you to check in on every five minutes.
Have only a text editor or word processing program open, save it often, and when you’re finished with your work, copy and paste your blog post into your web browser to publish.
Change your setting
Try changing your physical location. Grab your laptop or tablet and go into another room. Try writing from the library, coffee shop, or even the inside of your car. Stuck at a desktop computer? Make yourself “feel” you’re sitting elsewhere by modifying the room’s lighting and putting on some oddball music on your stereo.
Make a clean break
Take a bath or shower and put on some clean clothes. Sometimes having a (literally) fresh break can do wonders for your creativity.
Change your time
If you regularly blog in the evenings, try doing it in the morning or vice-versa. Your mind may be too used to routines that a time-of-day jolt may do wonders for your creativity.
Go for the bizarre
Still stuck? Stop what you’re doing for 60 seconds and do something off the wall. Do as many push-ups in a row as you can. Make funny faces in the mirror, or do your long-neglected mouth exercises (see photo above). Grab all the food cans from your pantry or cupboard and see how high you can stack them on your kitchen floor. Smack yourself. Build the ultimate paper airplane and see how far you can throw it.
Done? Then immediately jump back on your computer and start plugging away again.