Writer’s block, everyone experiences it at some point. You sit staring at a blank screen and it stares back at you, challenging you to type some characters. You type a few words, maybe a whole sentence and just as quickly as the words are typed, you erase them. Sometimes you may not be ready to tackle the subject matter or sometimes you may not have any inspiration. Whatever the reason, there are ways to throw a rope over that wall and start climbing. The following seven tips always help me. They can help you too.
Take a hike: Or a walk, run, swim, jog, whatever form of exercise you enjoy. Sometimes your mind just needs a little perspiration for inspiration. The brain does not shut down completely while exercising, but it does channel some of its energy into handling the task at hand. Moving your body and breathing creates a meditative state where thoughts can percolate.
Shut The Door: You will be more creative and share more if you are alone. Literally closing the door and removing the distraction of other people will create a sense of freedom to write what you want. Even if no one can see your screen, just knowing that someone is in the room can inhibit your thoughts. This also means shutting the virtual door. No Twitter, Facebook or any other social networking. If this means writing long hand on a paper notebook and turning your notebook and phone off, do it!
Write Early: Get up early and write first thing in the morning. The mind has not yet become cluttered with a day full of details and frustrations. While you are sleeping the mind continues to process thoughts and can be incredibly creative. Capture those creative thoughts in the morning before they evaporate in the bright light of the day. Here’s my motto: write in the morning, edit in the evening. If you are left with a net positive number of words, it’s a good day!
Read: Reading a favorite author, a blog post, magazine or newspaper article may spur your imagination. Sometimes just the cadence of the language itself may ignite your creativity. This can be fun too. Try writing a few sentences the same way that your favorite author would write them. You may be amazed by what comes from this.
Establish a routine: Set aside a particular time every day for writing. If your mind knows that at a certain time of the day that it will be dedicated to writing, it will prepare for it and be ready. You condition your body to be hungry at certain times during the day, do the same for your writing.
Just do it: Sometimes you just have to start writing, about anything. Take a look around the room and start describing it. Write it down, no matter what it is, the color of the dining room table, the way the light falls through the window, the people in the picture hanging on the wall. There will be a story in these words. Once you have a block of words written, start to carve away and soon you’ll find the gem.
Don’t edit while you write: Anne Lamott is famous for her advice to writers: “Write a shitty first draft.” This means that you just keep writing while the iron is hot, without re-reading what you have just written. Let the words come out and remember my motto? Edit in the evening. Your words will have a chance to marinate and congeal, but you have to get them out there first. No one will see your first draft.
There, I finally finished writing this article and it only took a few of these tips to get me there. Now it’s on to the next writing project, which needs to be completed by tomorrow. Bonus tip: Deadlines, if you are motivated by a little stress, set a deadline or better yet have someone else set one for you. Sometimes a little external motivation may be all you need. Now get writing!