5 Ways to Triumph Over Writers’ Block—Really
As a copywriter, the two things I struggle with on a daily basis are writers’ block and deciding what kind of bagel to eat for breakfast. Okay, the second one is more of a personal struggle. But writers’ block is a cursed plague upon all who write on a regular basis. It stifles creativity, dampens productivity, and makes you doubt your own writing ability.
At least I can take solace in the fact that I am a very speedy typist. (Thank god for all of those typing classes in elementary school, where would we be without them?) Whenever you need an ego boost, I highly recommend doing a typing test, finding out your words-per-minute, and basking in your own typing prowess. (Just got 132.30 WPM. Feelin’ good.)
Even if you’re the fastest typist in the world, you’ll still face writers’ block. And that’s okay. I’ve picked up some tips for improving writing productivity—check them out below. Of course, everyone’s a beautiful unique butterfly. Experiment with different things and find out what works best for your writing style. Also, find out what works for butterflies. They always seem very productive and on-task.
1) Keep a running list of interesting topics
Step 1 of writing: Know what you’re going to write about. If you write consistent blog posts, always keeping incredible topic ideas on hand ensures that you’re never really starting from scratch. Keep an ongoing list of interesting topics—it’ll save you so much time and stress in the long run. Jot down thoughts as they come to you, even if they seem silly at the time. A whole list of half-baked ideas is sure to result in at least one amazing blog post idea.
2) Set aside distraction-free writing time
Don’t check your email. Don’t get pulled into Twitter. Don’t let any of these sirens of notifications draw you away from your writing. Even though you can justify checking an important email or replying to just one text, you’ll get sucked into the vortex of false efficiency. Somehow, hours can go by and you’ll return to your blank Word document with the taunting, blinking cursor.
Close your email. Silence your phone. Get to work. Schedule designated breaks to briefly check them and make sure nothing requires an immediate response. Perhaps at the end of one hour of writing allow yourself 5 minutes to quickly respond to brief emails. Don’t click on any videos of two rats fighting over a slice of pizza—even if all you care about is Pizza Rat. You can watch them later.
3) Read writers you admire
Important disclaimer: this isn’t to say that you should mimic another person’s writing style. You have your own dazzling voice! But if you’re feeling stuck, peruse other writers’ work to get inspiration. Not only is it a nice distraction, but it also serves as the all-too-important reminder that writing is just putting together words and sharing your ideas with others.
Every writer faces the terrifying feeling that he or she has nothing new to say. When I read another writer’s work, I remind myself that he too felt stagnant and daunted by writing that piece. But now I’m reading their final product! If that writer can make it through, so can I and so can you.
If you’re in the market for an effervescent, sharp, well-written blog to follow, check out Geraldine DeRuiter’s The Everywhereist. Yes, she’s married to Moz founder and digital marketing superstar Rand Fish—but she’s also a clever, vivacious writer. For example, her post on the momentous task of poking all 615 of her Facebook friends provides me with the inspiration that writing should be effortless and enjoyable.
4) Listen to the right music
Finding the smooth tunes that make you write efficiently is a tall order. It obviously depends on what you’re writing and what works best for you. There’s no one “right” music choice for everybody. Try Songza, a music streaming service that allows you to play around with stations based around very specific activities. From playlists called “Left Brain, Right Beat” to “Provocative Contemporary Film Scores,” you’re sure to find something that helps you focus. Plus, minimal ads!
Personally I alternate between fast rap (Danny Brown and Childish Gambino, anyone?), classical music, and rain noises. If you can’t work while listening to music, try listening to rain. It’s what I listened to every time I was nearing a paper deadline in college. Now it works like classical conditioning; whenever I listen to rain I know it’s time to get down to business.
5) Read over your own writing
Yes. I am encouraging you to indulge yourself. But hey, it works. Pulling up previous writing pieces that you feel proud of is a great way to get inspiration from your #1 fan—yourself. (Well, okay your mom is probably your #1 fan. But you’re definitely in your own top 5 probably.)
Feeling like you will never ever finish what you’re working on? Remind yourself of your voice and your triumph over procrastination and writers’ block of long ago. You did it then and you can do it now.
Want to learn more about creating original content (plus a mention of dogs in L.L. Bean boots)? Read this. Interested in having someone else write great content for you or your company? Learn more about our content writing services.
What’s your fastest WPM? How do you defeat writers’ block? Tweet us @Perfect_Search or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org!