Tricks to beat writer’s block when it hits
You’re staring at a blank page.
You’re watching the cursor disappear and then come back on the screen.
It feels like 15 minutes have already passed. And you wrote nothing. Sort of. You wrote 2 lines multiple times. Then you deleted them several times. Because, well, they were horrible.
You did everything writing gurus told you to do:
And you’re just sitting there…sitting…and waiting. Waiting for the words to come.
‘I might be bored with this topic already’ or ‘I might be tired’ — these thoughts cross your mind.
Your brain is just completely blank, and you’re trying to figure out why.
Then it hits you.
Your motivation has already faded, but you want to keep going.
So, what can you do to overcome writer’s block?
Maybe you think I’ll suggest you go for a walk, take a 5-minute break, or meditate. Those are all great ideas, but you’ve probably heard them all before…and they rarely help me overcome writer’s block.
These miracle cures, however, do work. Guaranteed, 100%.
Copywork is exactly what it sounds like. I take a piece of writing, and I copy it. I type on my computer, but you could use a pen and paper.
I don’t want to sound like anyone else; however, I admire many writers who do a wonderful job with their newsletters and articles. I recently discovered Laura Belgrey, a hilarious writer, so nowadays, I enjoy copying her newsletters. Maybe at some point, I can be as witty as her. One can hope!
I do this simply to improve my writing skills.
Copywork allows me to focus on her sentence structure. It’s a way for me to connect with Laura’s writing on a deeper level and understand the nuances of her style.
Doing copywork always sparks something in me and helps me overcome writer’s block.
During the past few months, I’ve developed the habit of writing right after waking up, before checking my phone and getting ready for the day. This habit has transformed my life, and I’m not exaggerating.
The idea of Morning Pages comes from Julia Cameron, who first described it in her book The Artist’s Way.
Every morning, I try my best to write 3 pages in longhand.
Sometimes I journal, and sometimes I write about what stresses me. I write about my work, plans, childhood, thoughts, feelings, goals, and noisy neighbours. Sometimes I write to process emotionally heavy stuff.
One morning, I couldn’t write about anything. Whenever this happens, Julia suggests writing, “I can’t write anything”, “I can’t write anything”. She suggests repeating the sentence until something comes to you.
Try this next time when you have writer’s block. It will get your creative juices flowing.
When I can’t come up with comprehensible sentences, I can only do one thing.
I can park the problematic article and make lists.
What kind of lists can we make as writers?
I simply write outlines for new articles. My outline is nothing fancy. All I have at first is
Focusing on another article will take your mind off of the blocked one. Outlines to an article are like gesso to a canvas. So whenever you’re ready to write, the ideas are already prepared for you.
I know if I only read articles about writing, design, solopreneurship, and the creator economy, I’m not exposed to radically different ideas. Therefore, I enjoy reading outside my niche(s); even better if I read something that contradicts my beliefs.
For example, if you’re on a regular carnivore diet, why don’t you read about vegetarianism/veganism?
Don’t forget to read the comments because that’s where all the coolest ideas live!
Your mojo will return as soon as you are exposed to an opposing view to yours.
Writer’s block already made me tense, right? After wasting half an hour, I could use a good laugh.
What I like to do
When writer’s block finds you, watch something inspiring or funny. Sometimes we just need to loosen up a little.
When I’m stuck on the headline, I like to do another task needed for publishing.
For me, it’s usually creating a hero image. I know many writers use Unsplash because of its easy access within Medium.
I, on the other hand, like to create hero images. When I write design articles, I usually illustrate them using my iPad. As for my other genre stories, I create hero images with Canva Pro. But I don’t just use one of the images Canva offers. To give them more personality, I like manipulating and touching them up.
Other tasks I tend to focus on during writer’s block
When you write part-time, there is a good chance that you have several articles in progress at different stages of completion. Therefore, it’s never a waste of time, and you feel productive.
Completing these mundane tasks will spark something in you and make you return to the troubled article.
There’s something special about writing on paper.
Whenever I hold a pen in my hand, ideas just flow.
Next time you have writer’s block, why don’t you switch up the tools?
Besides a pen and notepad, you can try
Recently, I noticed myself when Grammarly underlines my writing, I immediately want to go back to make corrections.
If you also use Grammarly or other grammar checker tools, turn it off for your next writing session.
During the draft stage, let go of perfection and write freely.
Writing seems easy.
But writing well is hard.
Writers know that.
When writer’s block hits me, I don’t get angry with myself. Because I know it’s only temporary. But I also know I have a toolkit to draw from.
The methods mentioned above always get me fired up, no matter which one I choose. I hope that next time when our enemy arrives, you’ll give these a shot.
If you’re new to me, my name is Niki. I’m a part-time writer with a 9-to-5 job in tech. Writing about my solopreneur experiments and adventures is one of my favourite things to do. If you’d like to know more about me:
Check out my About page.