For marketing writers of all kinds, the dreaded nemesis of compositional creativity — writer’s block — is bound to set in sooner or later. But whether the goal at hand is short-form marketing content such as social media posts, product descriptions and emails, or longer-form marketing content such as blog articles, case studies and white papers, when writer’s block does strike, scribes don’t have to let it hold them captive. By tapping into a few proven tactics, marketing writers can unleash their creativity and get the words flowing again.
What is writer’s block?
An impediment to progress faced by nearly all writers at some point in their careers, writer’s block is a condition in which an author simply can’t seem to come up with new ideas for advancing the writing project at hand. It is often marked by long stretches of staring at a blank page or a flashing cursor, with little to no progress being made on the composition being written (or, perhaps more accurately, not being written).
As frustrating as the problem can be, the most important thing for writers to know is that writer’s block is not caused by a lack of talent or drive — the creative stoppage strikes writers of all skill and commitment levels, including the most celebrated of authors. While it can be a tough obstacle to get past, it should by no means be interpreted as a sign that you don’t have what it takes to be a writer. It happens to the best of us, and it can be overcome.
How to beat writer’s block — 10 effective ways to overcome the obstacle
It will happen. But when it does, writer’s block doesn’t have to be persistent, or even especially long-lived. The best ways to overcome it will vary from writer to writer, but at the end of the day, it’s about conquering self-doubt and having faith that your hard work will be rewarded.
The next time writer’s block sets in for you, consider these 10 tips that can help you get over the hump:
1. Take a hike
In many cases, hitting the trail — or walking the dog, taking a stroll around the neighborhood, going for a bike ride, whatever your choice of escapist physical activity may be — can be just what you need to loosen your mind and get your creative juices flowing again. Any activity that frees your mind and allows you to think things through without the pressure of putting anything down on paper (or screen) can help you work through whatever your hurdle may be.
2. … or simply do something else
The activity that frees your mind doesn’t necessarily have to involve exercise. Often, you just need to find a way — any way — to get out from behind your desk for a while. Any activity that gets your mind moving can do the trick, whether it’s taking a drive, grabbing a bite to eat, doing the dishes or anything else that lets you think things through pressure-free.
3. Do a mundane chore
The best way to get your mind wandering — and beyond a mode of thinking that may be hanging up your progress/causing your writer’s block — can often be performing a mindless task that’s just plain (and thoroughly) boring. Whether it’s cleaning, taking a shower, folding laundry or something else that tends to put your brain on autopilot, consider stepping away from your desk and diving into such a task. Frequently, doing so can allow your mind to wander — and sometimes it will wander right into a content idea that solves your writer’s block.
4. Switch up the subject
Sometimes, jumping into an unrelated writing or editing project can be just what you need to direct your attention away from a temporary block and revive the creative process. Whether it’s an email, a social post or any other writing task that’s separate from the one that’s hanging you up, try switching gears, then looping back to the problematic project later. Often, the “aha” moment for the troublesome task can come when focusing on another writing venture.
5. Elevate your workspace
Wherever your designated space for writing may be, try to make it a place where you feel comfortable and at home, and where you actually want to spend time. If needed, spruce it up by clearing out the clutter, putting out an arrangement of fresh flowers or hanging a picture that inspires you — all of which can foster creativity. Further, take steps to ensure that you’re comfortable, a pleasant temperature is maintained and noisy interruptions are kept to a minimum. Any distractions can interrupt your flow and inhibit the progress of your writing.
6. Build a regular routine
Many of us hit peak productivity levels at a specific time of the day. If you’re sluggish in the morning, avoid trying to jump into a heavy writing task before your creative juices get flowing. Instead, start such projects at the time of day when you tend to get things done most effectively. And if your already-established routine isn’t working, leading to regular writer’s block, consider switching things up. Whatever days/times you land on, try to stick with it and establish a regular routine. Writing on a regular schedule can help you to simply sit down and put in the work, which is often the key to powering through writer’s block.
7. Work ahead
Sometimes, it’s a certain section of an article, case study, white paper, email or other writing project that a writer can get hung up on. Rather than letting the creative hurdle leave you spinning your wheels and making little to no progress, move on to an easier-to-compose section of the task at hand, then come back to the problematic section later to wrap it up. This way, you can keep your writing momentum going, and while doing so, you may come up with an idea for overcoming the issue with the section that’s been slowing you down.
Rather than putting a lot of thought and effort into getting everything right on your first pass, just write — getting all your initial thoughts down on paper or in your digital document. While doing so, don’t worry about spelling, grammar, proper sentence structure or even whether what you’re writing is making much sense, as you can deal with all of these things later. Sometimes, just pressing on with getting all your thoughts down free-form will help you power through your bout with writer’s block.
9. Save the editing for later
Further, whether you’re free-form writing or composing your piece of content more carefully, the editing process can wait. You’ll find that, in the vast majority of cases, your writing will speed up significantly — and you’ll be less susceptible to writer’s block — if your first draft is written without rigid regard for the small stuff. Rather than revisiting and re-writing each sentence as you move through your first draft, just try to get all of your thoughts down in a single pass. Once that’s complete, go back through your work sentence by sentence to clean things up and reorganize as needed. You can even do multiple rounds of editing if required — just try to keep your editing and rewriting to a bare minimum on your initial pass.
10. Don’t beat yourself up
Remember, writer’s block happens to even the best and most celebrated of writers. When it strikes you, don’t be too hard on yourself. Give yourself a break and try to power through with a positive attitude — and have faith in your writing skills. Writer’s block is a temporary phenomenon. And with the tips above, some positive self-reinforcement and the right attitude, you can overcome it.
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