Do you think writer’s block is something only writers face?
What about cube jocks, people working in offices… when they get stuck thinking about starting a proposal or note that their boss asked them to prepare?
What about an entrepreneur overthinking the opening of a pitch?
Anyone can face it.
What is writer’s block?
It is more like a mental block.
It is a feeling of not knowing the words to put on the screen.
Here is how you can get rid of your mental block and a result kill writer’s block whenever it comes to haunt you.
How To Overcome Writer’s Block
Whenever you face a mental block (disguised as writer’s block) do this.
Stop trying to put words on the screen or the paper. Get rid of any screen that is there in front of you. Close the laptop or put your mobile phone in your pocket.
Stop thinking about writing. Trying to stop thinking about the task on hand is the worst way to do it. Instead, do something else. Here’s what you can do.
1) MOVE YOUR BODY
Take a walk. Do pushups and stretch.
2) DO WATER THERAPY
Drink a glass or two. Take a bath. Cold water works great for me.
Nourish your body. Eat I mean. Don’t stuff yourself but a small snack is good. If you are still hungry then eat some more. And, then no more.
Temperance was No. 1 of 13 virtues that Benjamin Franklin tried to adhere to develop his character.
“1. TEMPERANCE. Eat not to dullness; drink not to elevation.”
I love coffee as a pick me up. It is a drug. It works well if you take the right dosage at right time. For me, the right time is after breakfast and 1-2 hours after lunch, right before I start work. And, I am mindful of not doing it too much.
5) KEEP AN IDEA SWIPE FILE
Keep an idea diary or ‘to write later’ doc. Add writing prompts there so that you are never short of ideas to write.
6) LOOK AROUND FOR NEW IDEAS AND EXPERIENCES
You can get writer’s block because you think that you have nothing to say. This may be because you are not exposing yourself to new ideas. Talk to people, go out. Do anything that exposes you to new ideas.
I have said it in the past. I’ll say it again. Forego the idea of creating a masterpiece every time you put pen to paper. Don’t worry about writing well. First, write. Then edit and improve it the best you can.
7) WRITE AS YOU TALK
You don’t get talker’s block – maybe you do when you are in front of other people. But you’ll be alone when you write. Then, write as you talk.
Here is what Seth Godin says about it:
How to put this into practice?
Open Google Docs and use ‘voice typing’ feature. Start voice typing app and start talking. The app will type what you say. Once done, tidy the text and publish. No need to spend hours typing. This feature is only available on desktops for now.
You can also use iPhone’s voice memo feature to record what you say whenever you have new ideas. This will act as your audio idea file.
8a) READ BEFORE YOU WRITE
James Altucher does this. Here is what he says:
You don’t have to choose the same authors. Pick authors that inspire you. These authors don’t need to be in a particular genre.
8b) FIND INSPIRATION BY FOLLOWING THE MASTERS
I got a chance to chat with Steven Pressfield while working on No Idling. I asked him for his advice to become a good writer. He got up and brought a thick stack of paper. He said that he filled this stack by typing Hemingway’s writing word for word. This was his way to get into the zone.
9) USE WRITING FRAMEWORKS TO WRITE
Here is a simple framework.
- Open with a story
- Connect that story to the topic you are writing about
- Say what you have to say on that topic
- End with a question
You can create your own framework or follow any other that you find easy to use.
You don’t need to apply all these at once. Do whatever looks easy and go from there.
Is there anything else that you use to get out of writer’s block?