Robert Sullivan is a self-published author, blogger, social media manager, and more.
If you have to do a lot of writing, or even just want to do it for fun, then there’s probably a good chance you’ve hit the wall. Don’t be discouraged though, because I’m going to tell you how to get past writer’s block once and for all! I’m going to save the best for last though, but it’s also takes the longest to get used to doing.
1. Take a break
When I say take a break I mean a real break, go close your eyes, and try to relax without stressing over anything. 15 minutes of that can really perk up you mood, not to mention that it will also bring the creative juices back. Heck there’s even more and more scientific evidence pointing to frequent breaks increasing productivity.
The takeaway is that you’ll be calmer and more focused, which is sometimes all it takes to get things moving again.
2. Write about something else
You may have gotten yourself in a little too far, and it can feel like you are in a rut, and one of the best ways to get out of that is to do something new. Writing about another topic, even just for a little while can get your brain moving enough to bring you back to the other things which you want to write. It’s also a great way to experiment on new writing styles, without fretting too much about whether or not you are doing it right. Just try to enjoy the ride, and in the end you’ll be more likely to pick up where you left off on your first project.
3. Read something
Reading is a great way to mix things up. The more you read the more diversity in writing that your brain picks up. This can be enough to jar you back into the writing mood, and even if it doesn’t at least you got to read something you liked.
4. Crank up the music
I find that if I am having a little trouble focusing on writing, that I can turn on some music and it helps to drown out the rest of the world. It makes it just me and the page, which can really speed things up. I would recommend more of an ambient music as opposed to a song, as the lyrics might encourage you to sing along. Which can really distract you from getting pen to paper.
5. Go for a walk
I love going for a walk. It’s funny I started walking to lose weight, and wound up becoming addicted to just walking around my neighborhood. I would spend hours a day just walking, listening to music, and thinking about things I wanted to write. It’s a great way to get your blood flowing, and come back refreshed. Also… I lost over a hundred pounds! But I changed the way I ate a lot too. Still, that’s what I call a bonus.
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6. Plan out what you need to write
Sometimes it’s good to go with the flow of writing, but when you really need to get things done, and you just don’t know where to start, it’s a good idea to break it down into manageable chunks. Remember the movie “What About Bob?” Just think baby steps. It’s a lot easier to get started when you only have to focus on writing one sentence, rather than a whole book. Sometimes our ambitions can be less than motivational when we realize the size of the mountains we’re trying to climb. So slow down, and try it one step at a time.
7. Flip a coin
Here’s an odd one, but in the past I noticed that a lot of time I had the capacity to write, but just wasn’t deciding to do so. I took choice out of the equation and flipped a coin. Heads I write, tails I do something else. Hey it works 50% of the time, which is better than nothing at all.
8. Create a schedule and stick to it
Here’s a meat and potatoes kind of tip for this. If you can create a schedule then you can really start to see some progress. It may be slow at first, but eventually things will get moving. Also if you can get someone you know to hold you accountable, it can work wonders. It’s one thing to say you are a writer, it’s another to have to show someone how much you did each day. The guilt of not getting it done can push to you do some amazing things.
9. Can the perfectionism
If you are having a terrible time getting some piece of work “just right” then stop it. It’s way easier to edit something later than to try and get it perfect right off the bat. And not only that, but you’re going to have to edit it anyway, so you might as well just get the part you’re working on over with. Try to shift your focus from writing perfect, to writing well and you’ll have a much easier time.
Alright are you ready for the last tip? This is the big one, I’ve been using this for years, and it really works. Here we go.
10. Sit down and write for five minutes.
Hold on because there’s more to it than just that, but I am going to have to break into a story here. When I was in high school, I didn’t get along too well with most of the teachers. But, there was one teacher who gave me this lesson. He was my English teacher, but before that he was the editor of a magazine. He worked with tons of professional writers who frequently got you guessed it writer’s block, and he shared his solution for that problem.
Every day we would come into class, he would force us to write for 5 minutes straight. He would have some daily topic, but you didn’t have to write about it if you didn’t want to. The whole point was to write, he didn’t care what it was about. You could just yammer on about what you had for breakfast, or even just what you were thinking at the moment.
The first thing this does for you is awesome. It makes your brain realize that “We are writing now” and typically within two to three minutes you start to write coherently about something. Once you get to that state you can easily transition to writing about what you should be writing.
Now the second thing it does is even more amazing, but it take a couple of months to get the benefit. When you force yourself to write for five minutes each day, you essentially rewire you brain. Instead of thinking about it as a struggle, you’re brain just clears up and you can write. I don’t have to think for hours about what to write, or how to say something anymore, instead I can just let the words flow.
The hard part is forcing yourself to do this every single day (or at least five a week) for about three months. It worked well in class because it was a part of our grade, and he would sit there and make sure we were writing, but the adult world is a little harder. You’re going to need some self-discipline. If you can do it though, it helps so much it’s insane.
I hope that helps you.
Do you have any tips or tricks to overcome writer’s block? I’d like to see what others have to say about this in the comments.