I’ve scheduled today to write. In my house that means I’ve spent the morning cooking, running every imaginable errand and returning a few phone calls. I’ve also exercised and cleared my inbox. This is especially true if I have a specific topic I am supposed to write about. It’s comical really. I love writing and will often find the littlest things inspire me. When I’m on a deadline, though, my mind goes blank and writer’s block sets in.
I’ve never met a writer of who hasn’t dealt with writer’s block at one point in their life. It is so common that a quick Google search will pull up hundreds of articles and free eBooks with suggestions on how to get past it. Those suggestions vary greatly. That being said, I’ve used a few tricks from time to time. I’ve also heard from others a few tried and true actions to overcome writer’s block. Here are my best suggestions for the next time you are under a deadline.
Even emails I hate returning will grab my attention when I have trouble writing. Social media sucks me in much more easily as well. It also never fails that I will get a call from a telemarketer as soon as I think of an idea that gets me typing.
Distractions aren’t always of our own creations, but they can often be avoided. Netflix may be the best way to pass the time on a rainy afternoon, but it can just as easily cause you to lose an entire day of work if you aren’t disciplined.
If you have a To Do List that needs to take priority take care of it. That being said, writing should take just as much of a priority. Balance can be challenging to achieve, but it is possible with a little forethought. For me, creating a schedule helps. I block off times to accomplish tasks, and time to write. I do this with a weekly planner that allows me to write appointments in by the hour. Both Corie Clark’s The Purposeful Planner and The Passion Planner have this option. I’ve used both and will continue to each year. Seeing the hours blocked off helps me create the balance and structure I need to accomplish all my tasks without forgetting things. It also helps me to say no to other activities when I need to prioritize writing.
Clear Your Head
Being stuck inside on a beautiful day can make it hard to focus. Take thirty minutes and go out for a walk. Listen to a podcast or chat with a friend. Don’t think about your writing project. Getting your blood pumping will help you physically as well as mentally. Moving will help your blood flow and draw more oxygen to your brain allowing you to clear the fog.
Taking your mind off your writing assignment will energize you as well. Giving yourself the chance to focus on a different subject will allow your brain a break and will take the pressure off.
For me, the best time to take a break like this is in between drafts. If I can walk away from my project for awhile, I find that fresh eyes always inspires me. This allows my edits to come more naturally and the process runs smoother.
“I encourage my students at times like these to get one page of anything written, three hundred words of memories or dreams or stream of consciousness on how much they hate writing — just for the hell of it, just to keep their fingers from becoming too arthritic, just because they have made a commitment to try to write three hundred words every day. Then, on bad days and weeks, let things go at that… Your unconscious can’t work when you are breathing down its neck. You’ll sit there going, ‘Are you done in there yet, are you done in there yet?’ But it is trying to tell you nicely, ‘Shut up and go away.'” — Anne Lamott, Bird by Bird
It may seem inconsistent to tell someone with writer’s block to write, but it works. Writing about a different subject will get the creative energy moving. There is a sense of accomplishment that comes along with writing something, so as Anne Lamott put it, write to keep the fingers from becoming too arthritic.
Free writing can be a great way to get the words flowing. Write about a dream, what your day will look like, pen a letter to someone. Hundreds of sources exist that include writing prompts. Pick a prompt that sounds interesting and go for it.
Bullet Journaling can be a great way to get your thoughts out. Not having to construct complete sentences can be freeing. Whether you are making a list of all the things you hate about your writing assignment or simply outlining the subjects, you will go back and fill in later; this can be an effective way to move forward.Morning Pages is a really interesting writing exercise. Julia Cameron has written two books on the theory of Morning Pages. “Morning Pages are three pages of longhand, stream of consciousness writing, done first thing in the morning. *There is no wrong way to do Morning Pages*–they are not high art. They are not even “writing.” They are about anything and everything that crosses your mind– and they are for your eyes only. Morning Pages provoke, clarify, comfort, cajole, prioritize and synchronize the day at hand. Do not over-think Morning Pages: just put three pages of anything on the page...and then do three more pages tomorrow.”
The reason Morning Pages works for me is that there isn’t an agenda, yet there is structure. Having a stopping place is great, although I’ve gone over three pages before. The freedom to say whatever I want without a structure, start or stop allows for new ideas to spill onto the page.
I have found more than once that a phrase or thought I’ve written in my Morning Pages will springboard a new blog post later in the week. This discipline also goes back to Anne Lamott’s point to just write something.
Morning Pages is a discipline that should be done outside of the work day, but it will be an exercise that may strengthen your creativity within your work.
So get writing! Take a walk if you need to first, but put pen to paper or tap on the keyboard. Give yourself the freedom to move forward. If you have a tried and true tip for getting rid of writer’s block let us know, we’ll try it the next time we have trouble writing.
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