Writer’s Block: 7 Ways to Overcome It Now

Writer’s block kills. It’s an idea-killer.

Your most inspirational idea can be so clear that it seems not only real but completely attainable. But the moment you sit in front of your keyboard or pick up your journal, poof!

The idea and all the words you had to describe it are gone.

Your mind is just as empty at the page in front of you. You’re facing writer’s block, the fear of losing all your words.

Why it’s so hard to write

Short of duct-taping yourself in your writer’s chair, it can be hard to sit in front of the computer and put your ideas into language.

You can find plenty of reasonable explanations for that difficulty. Good writing requires both technical know-how and the ability to create nuances using words in infinite combinations. It’s like trying to pick the perfect color; before you know it, you’re knee-deep in analysis paralysis, but you still haven’t committed to anything.

First, writing can be personal. As soon as we drudge up deeply personal matters, the subconscious voice yells, “You can’t say that!” All writers can say it, and great writers will write what they’re thinking. They ignore the voice and continue.

Writing is an uncertain act. Most writers have a general direction in mind when they set off on a page, but they’re also willing to see where their writing takes them. More than one writer has experienced a character that comes alive on the page or an idea that builds its own wings and takes off.

Finally, perfection and writer’s block make for great friends. Most writers who edit and re-edit while writing a first draft  become bogged down. These highly analytical writers check their spelling and grammar as they go. Perseverating on the details too early can prevent writers from capturing their thoughts fluently.

So what’s a would-be writer to do?

7 Strategies that work

Writer’s who want to beat writer’s block develop techniques that immerse them into writing without overanalyzing what they’re doing. The way to overcome writer’s block is to write, so you must engage yourself in the act of writing itself.

Try these strategies to get the ink flowing and the keyboard keys clicking

1.  Make a list.

Identify what you’re working on, the things you need from the grocery, the statements you overheard at the mall, the places you’d like to live. Anything, will do, really. Writing groups of words will spark an idea. When that happens, you’ll already be warmed up and ready to go.

2.  Encourage your stream of consciousness.

Write down everything that comes to your mind. Yes, everything. Tell your inner voice it’s okay; no one but the two of you will see it. Let the words flow like a stream. Don’t worry about spelling or even punctuation. Try writing this way for more extended periods each day. You’ll be surprised at some of the gems you capture.

3. Begin in the middle.

The Greeks called it in media res. They recommended skipping all the boring front matter and explanation in writing. Jump into the action right away, they said. Your reader will figure it out, and your writing will be richer for it.

4. Use the alphabet to your favor.

If you’re still stuck, try the alphabet writing game. It’s like the improv game you’ve seen on old TV shows, but with written sentences. Your first sentence must begin with the letter A, your second sentence with B, and so on. You can flip the order and work backward from Z, too.

5. Write the conclusion first.

Your English teacher was wrong. You don’t have to start at the beginning. If you know what you want to say at the end, write that first. Your conclusion will serve as the beacon for the rest of your writing.

6. Redact (blackout) unnecessary words on a page.

Make a photocopy of one of your pieces of writing, take a black marker, and scratch out the words you don’t need. Use what’s left to write a stellar first sentence or opening line. The process is known as blackout poetry, and it’s an art form.

7. Write a quotation you find meaningful.

Then rewrite it as many times as necessary.  Avoid writing about the quotation itself. Write the words from the excerpt over and over until your mind is ready to string together its own words. As soon as your writing machine is primed, leave the quote behind and let your original words flow.

Beat writer’s block for good

To squash writer’s block once and for all, face your fears head-on. Time management experts advise people to do the hardest tasks first. Everything  else comes easy.

That advice isn’t too different from eating a raw egg (or kissing a frog) first thing in the morning. After that, what’s the worst that can happen to you the rest of the day? Pretty much nothing.

Tackling your writing works the same way. do the heavy lifting first, and everything else comes easy.

Some would-be writers would rather drink the raw eggs or kiss the frog than write. They hire a writer when they want their ideas captured in writing.

Should You Publish Digitally or in Print?

Writers who plan to market their books themselves have to decide whether to  publish digitally or in print.

So which format is best for publishing your book?

How you publish your book will depend on your goals. Consumer neuroscience reports that digital information gives readers easier access, but print invites longer book engagement.

Your purpose for writing the book should drive how you will publish it.

Digital publishing

The Publishing Association reports that digital books gained enormous popularity until 2016 when sales dropped 17%. At the same time, the demand for printed books grew 8%.

People like the convenience of digital books, easy to carry space-savers that are often less than half the cost of printed books.

Go the digital route when you:

  • Want to retain all creative rights. You get to decide on the cover, format, and more.
  • You have time to explore the options between Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Apple for your electronic publishing needs.
  • If you plan to publish internationally, add Kobo to your list.
  • Want to create an online presence. Digital books are a perfect choice.
  • Want new readers to take a risk on your writing skills.
  • Are willing to collect and analyze metadata about your book sales. You’ll want to track your performance.
  • Want to sell erotica, paranormal or alternative thrillers. Some readers like to cloak what they’re reading.
  • Have written a novella of 15,000 to 40,000 words. This size is e-reader perfect.

Traditional publishing

Consider going the traditional route for books that are keepers. People love holding real books in their hands.

Print your book traditionally if you:

  • Have a longer book people will want to reread.
  • You have an unusual layout and design in mind that can’t be produced in electronic format.
  • Have written an emotional or sentimental Holding a real book is a tactile experience that enhances empathy.
  • Have a profound message to share. Print creates a better impact.
  • Will be speaking at conferences. Print books are better for signing.
  • Hope traditional publishers will give you a shot. The big houses take print more seriously.

What about BOTH?

Yes, you can have your cake and eat it, too. You can also have your book on your e-reader and on your shelf.

For writers looking to maximize their profit, this may be the direction in which to go. An ebook might not generate substantial profit per individual sale, but it is less costly to publish. Fewer digital books are read to completion than print books, however, so you may also want to have a few physical books for sale and promotion.

Can’t decide? A book writing coach an help you explore whether to publish digitally or in print.

Do I Have A Book in Me?

Grand adventures and humble experiences make tremendous stories in the book that is you.

It’s only natural to share your stories with others. Telling our stories is an integral part of humanity. Through storytelling, we learn how to understand.

Author Brian Boyd explains in On the Origins of Stories that the art of storytelling comes from play. By telling our stories, we learn how to think, collaborate with others and advance our creativity. When we take time for storytelling, we become part of an evolutionary chain that improves our understanding of humanity.

We are all storytellers. You tell your stories during the day, with co-workers and clients. You recount the events of your day with family and friends.

It’s only natural to wonder, Do I have a book in me?

The quick answer is YES!

Everyone has a book in them, full of pages waiting to be written. The better question may be, “Who will tell your book?”

Not knowing the answer to this question can prevent your book from ever reaching print. Consider these three ways to take your story from an idea to a book.

Author your own book

You have a story, and you consider yourself a good writer, so of course, you want to write your book.

There’s something insanely enriching about completing a written work. You carve out time to write a little each day, develop characters and encourage them to take immense risks, and you write their actions in the words of your life.

By devoting yourself to book writing, you create the space you need for developing art. You establish your existence and the difference you have made in the lives of others.

Hire a ghostwriter

Ghostwriters are your behind-the-scenes-writers. They take your ideas and bring them alive with words on the page — your ideas written in their voice.

So should you hire a ghostwriter? That depends on your goals, but one of the best reasons for bringing on a hired writer is to get the job done. Your ghostwriter will dedicate the time you might not have and get your book completed. If you find yourself short on time, or writing isn’t your thing, this may be the way to go.

No two ghostwriters are the same. They take on varying levels of commitment to writing your book, according to your needs. Do you want the writer to come up with the ideas and the words? Or do you already have the story and need it written?

Even the best ghostwriters aren’t without their drawbacks. Your pen for hire might not have the voice and tone for which you were hoping. The ghostwriter could be less likely to discourage your ideas. Not all ghostwriters will tell you if your book ideas won’t work.

Collaborate with a co-author

The third option is to co-author a book with a writer.

Two heads are better than one, and with a hired writer, you have someone with whom you can collaborate – as much or as little as you want. By working with a hired writer, you are more likely to discover the book within you and get it published.

Once find the book in you, should you prepare to self-publish or go the traditional route?

We’ll take a look in our next blog.