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.

Words That Inspire Work When You’d Rather Be Doing Something Else

Words that inspire work can get you back in action even when your week isn’t going well, or you don’t feel like doing anything. The right words can inspire us to get started, keep going and try again.

You can get the words that will make a difference, even if you don’t write them yourself. These are some of our favorite quotes:

There’s No Time Like Now

Procrastination prevents  even the best ideas from gaining momentum.

  • “The most difficult thing is the decision to act, the rest is merely tenacity.” —Amelia Earhart
  • “Only put off until tomorrow what you are willing to die having left undone.” ~ Pablo Picasso
  • “Just do it.” – Nike

Regarding Success

Success is the one thing many want, but not everyone is willing to work for. It’s not success alone that defines us. It’s how we get there.

  • I attribute my success to this: I never gave or took any excuse. –Florence Nightingale
  • “What you get by achieving your goals is not as important as what you become by achieving your goals.” —Henry David Thoreau
  • Strive not to be a success, but rather to be of value. —Albert Einstein
  • It’s never too late to be what you might have been.” George Eliot

Moving Forward

The saying that doing what you’ve always done will give you the results you’ve always gotten is true. Even when things are going well, you still have to pick up the pace.

  • “If everything seems under control, you’re not going fast enough.” – Mari Andretti
  • “You are always a student, never a master. You have to keep moving forward.” – Conrad Hall
  • “I would rather risk wearing out than rusting out.” – Theodore Roosevelt

Go Confidently with Courage

The words that inspire our work also bolster us with courage.

  • “I am not a product of my circumstances. I am a product of my decisions.” —Stephen Covey
  • “The question isn’t who is going to let me; it’s who is going to stop me.” —Ayn Rand
  • “Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one’s courage.” –Anais Nin

Hire a writer to write your words, and you’ll always have the words that inspire work – your work.

What quotes do you find inspirational?

Writing Without an Audience in Mind

Write without keeping your audience in mind, and you will alienate readers right away. Writing requires that you exhibit “soft skill,” which is a combination of skills related to communication style, understanding of language and conventions, personal habits and social adeptness. Disregard these skills, and your audience will know you are churlish.

The U.S. Department of Labor considers soft skill application so critical enough for workplace success that they have produced a curriculum called “Soft Skills to Pay the Bills—Mastering Soft Skills for Workplace Success.” The learning activities focus on six soft skills: communication, enthusiasm and attitude, teamwork, networking, problem solving and critical thinking, and professionalism. However, one of the most important skills professionals need today is the ability to communicate clearly, effectively and professionally with readers. Anything less is rude.

My homeowners’ association wins the Broad Nib Creek Studio Fatal Flaw in Writing Prize of the Year (2014) for their attempt at either humor or self-aggrandizement.

Where I live, burning brush is a big deal. It seems there’s always a considerable amount to clear, and the easiest way to take care of the piles of it is to burn it. But naturally there are plenty of rules around the burning of brush, as there should be. Physical and property safety are priorities, and it’s the landowner’s responsibility to ensure that surrounding landowners and their property are also safe.

Before I can even think about lighting a brush pile, I have to consider whether or not there is a burn ban, the time of day,  wind and temperature, location of the burn, additional water sources for emergency flare-ups, and whether I can be near the fire from first flame to last ember. The property-owner’s manual also informs me this regarding outdoor burning: “Burning shall not be conducted during periods of actual predicted low-level atmospheric temperature inversions.”

Really? Convolution makes for a poor writing strategy and even poorer communication, particularly when writing about safety expectations. There is a time and a place for wit, and the manual isn’t a good place for wit, especially if that is the one and only attempt at it. I know; I had time to read the whole thing while keeping the burn pile in sight and mind.

Writers should do the same for their readers: keep good communication in sight and mind.