Writing is one of those things you either love or hate. But even when you love working with words, sooner or later we all run into the same wall.
Whether the trigger is a blank page, a looming deadline, or any number of other issues that can bring on the dreaded writer’s block, once it hits, you must act. Here are five tips for fighting back the next time you blank in the middle (or beginning) of a writing assignment.
- Distract yourself. Like Jack Donaghy, Vice President of East Coast Television and Microwave Oven Programming in the TV show 30 Rock, try following The Shower Principle. When Jack hits a wall and is in need of inspiration, he takes a shower or sinks a few putts on a mini green to distract himself, allowing his brain to relax and ideas to pop into his head. The Shower Principle can apply to writing, too. Take a shower. Take a walk. Watch a cute baby animal video. Distract yourself for a few minutes and see what ideas shake themselves loose.
- Go into Zen mode. If getting out of your own head doesn’t cut it, try the opposite and banish disruption and distraction. Different types of challenges require different types of solutions. Sometimes you might need distraction; sometimes distractions might be what are preventing you from recalibrating and getting back into writing mode. Whether it’s that playlist you always turn to when times get tough or noise-blocking headphones, do what you must to get your focus on.
- Bribe yourself. Sometimes you just need some extra motivation to get going. How about a gingerbread latte? A sunny walk around the neighborhood? An episode of your favorite show? The difference between a bribe and a distraction is delayed gratification. With a bribe, you have to give a little to get a little. Set a specific goal: If you write two good pages, for example, you’ll treat yourself to something nice.
- Say “adios” to Imposter Syndrome. Grappling with a tough assignment can leave you feeling less than confident. But giving in to Imposter Syndrome isn’t going to help you accomplish the task in front of you now. Instead of telling yourself you’ll never be able to do it, why not prove that you can by reviewing something you accomplished in the past? Take a look at that article that was published, the report that a client raved about, or the “Great job!” note from your boss. It’s a good reminder that yes, you can write, dadgummit, even if it doesn’t feel like the truth at the moment.
- Just dive in. Really. Sometimes the best way to end up with something you’re proud of is to just start writing and see where it takes you. Get some ideas onto the page and roll with it. Free form. You might be surprised where you end up.
Try out these tips the next time you’re feeling uninspired. And whatever you do, don’t be too hard on yourself. Every writer deals with writer’s block–and every writer gets past it. You will, too.
This post was adapted from a previous post by Becky Harris Sullivan.