Guest post by Brandon Freund
If anyone were to ask me what I do for a living or in my spare time, telling them I’m a writer would probably be the last thing to come to my mind. Although I’ve been blogging for some time now, I don’t think I will ever consider myself a “writer”. Perhaps that’s because most of the writing I do is experimental – meaning I’m still trying to figure out if it can somehow pay my bills.
But the truth is that if you blog, you are a writer. And unfortunately that means we’re all susceptible to common writing ailments – namely, writer’s block. Let me share with you ten things I’ve learned that help me overcome my stalled brain.
“The easiest thing to do on earth is not write.” -William Goldman
This one may seem obvious, but how many times as a blogger have you found yourself sitting down at 1am to write a post? If you’re anything like me, then that’s an everyday occurrence. Sometimes I feel like that’s when I do my best work. But most of the time I’m just trying to ignore my fatigue because I feel guilty that I haven’t written anything all day. Being tired will not inspire your creative muse. You’re better off getting proper rest so you can stay focused.
Getting your creative juices flowing is nearly synonymous to getting your blood flowing. Exercise can help wake you up and clear your mind. It can give you a chance to do some valuable thinking and brainstorming. And unlike vegging out on the couch, it will help your overall wellness which in turn will make you a better writer.
Grab a good book. Open that new magazine. For me it helps if I’m reading something that’s NOT on a computer screen. It gives my eyes a chance to rest. And surprisingly, I get a lot of thinking done while reading something in print. Sometimes I choose to read about topics in my niche, while other times it’s completely unrelated. Many great blog posts were inspired by the latest Clive Cussler novel!
7. AVOID TV
Believe it or not, for most people, TV sucks away your creative juices. We go into a trance where all thinking stops. And while you may think you’re the exception, I wouldn’t bet my money on it. Keep away from the TV.
6. DO Listen to Music
Unlike TV, I find music to be helpful when my brain doesn’t want to think – but only certain types of music. Stay away from music with vivid lyrics that can distract you. Try out some smooth jazz or spa sounds. I find it helps me to play this music both during my rests and my writing times.
5. Prepare in Advance
One of the best ways I’ve found to avoid writer’s block is to prepare myself in advance with a list of ongoing ideas. I don’t dip into those ideas when I already have one. This list is for backup purposes only. Carry a notepad with you around town and look for inspiration in unlikely places. Then only refer to it when you’re stuck. Sometimes even the act of checking over my list will inspire a post completely unrelated…like “Why You Need a List” (I’ve got dibs on that topic everyone…jk
4. Write Junk
Yep, you got it. Write junk. More accurately, give yourself permission to write junk. There isn’t a single author alive who gets it right in their first draft. In fact, the more famous an author you are, the more time you spend on revisions – guaranteed. Don’t stress over writing the next great groundbreaking blog post. Write about what inspires you. You always have time to revise. You’ll find that it’s easier to add creativity to an existing post than it is trying to create it from scratch.
3. Live Healthy
This kind of goes along with resting and exercise, but is more of a permanent solution. Instead of resorting to healthy tactics to overcome bouts of writer’s block, try leading a consistently healthy life with regular exercise, rest and healthy eating habits. You’ll find your brain functions better and you feel better overall. I’m as guilty as anyone with this one. My preferred writing strategy involves a Coke Zero and a giant bag of beef jerky at one in the morning!
2. Just Start
For me, getting one sentence down is usually the hardest part. After that, everything else seems to flow fairly easily. Get that one sentence out, no matter what it takes. Remember, it can be junk. I’ve written many posts and then gone back to change the first paragraph once I’m all finished.
1. Resolve Underlying Issues
Sometimes your writer’s block can be caused by underlying issues that need to be resolved. Did you just find out your mom was in the hospital? Probably going to be hard to keep that off your mind (which may be good if that can work for a post of some kind…). Most of the time pressing emotions or anxiety can get in the way. There may not be any other solution than to simply wait it out.
For me, the biggest cause of writer’s block is thinking about the massive amounts of writing I need to be doing. It’s why I’ve put off writing this post for a few days now! I have a list of posts I need to write and that has led to many distractions.
It was Mark Twain who said, “The secret of getting ahead is getting started. The secret of getting started is breaking your complex overwhelming tasks into small manageable tasks, and then starting on the first one.”
He couldn’t be more accurate. Hopefully with these tips you will be able to smash that writer’s block into pieces. Whatever you do, my final tip is to believe in yourself. You have a passion that will naturally express itself in your writing. Don’t let your human weaknesses stand in its way!
Brandon runs Big Dogs Internet Marketing - a company helping small businesses build an affordable and effective online presence. He enjoys providing free internet marketing advice though the Big Dogs blog to help the struggling non-marketer take advantage of great online marketing opportunities.