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It’s 9 a.m. You sit down at your computer to write your next blog post, ebook, or report. Eager to hammer out a draft so you can move on to other tasks, you place your fingers on the keyboard and wait for them to work their magic. But nothing happens. Before you know it, it’s 9:30, and all you’ve managed to write are five measly words. Sound familiar? If you’ve ever suffered from writer’s block, you know that it’s a paralyzing mental state that always seems to strike at the wrong time. That’s why we’ve made a list of 17 awesome tips to help you fix writer’s block:
1. Step away from your computer
In most cases, staring at your screen and becoming increasingly frustrated aren’t going to help you fix writer’s block. (Really!) So step away from your computer and do something else for a little while. Go for a walk, grab a coffee, or work on another task. Relax and clear your mind before coming back to your computer for a second attempt.
2. Use placeholder text
Some people get writer’s block because they think they need to write perfect sentences right off the bat. If they can’t think of the right word or phrase to use in a sentence, they stop writing until they can fill the blank. If you’re one of these people, we need to let you in on a little secret: first drafts suck, and they’re supposed to. A first draft isn’t supposed to double as your final draft. Instead, it’s a chance for you to stitch your raw ideas together in paragraph form.
Fix writer’s block by using placeholders when you can’t think of exactly what you want to say. If you can’t come up the right word or phrase for a sentence, type “XXX” or “_______” and keep going. You can always come back and fill it in later when you edit your draft.
3. Give yourself a push by freewriting
Need a little push to get you over the hump of starting your post or report? Try freewriting. Set a timer for 10 minutes, and once it starts, write continuously until the timer stops. You don’t have to stay on any particular topic or even write full sentences, but you do need to keep writing until your 10 minutes is up. Freewriting helps you fix writer’s block by giving you a chance to get into the rhythm of writing.
4. Set small goals
Writing a long ebook or report can feel daunting because it’s a big task. So what can you do? Break it up into smaller tasks that feel more manageable. For example, instead of thinking of how you have to write an ebook, focus on just one chapter or section (e.g., intro, body chapters, and conclusion) at a time. Sometimes a small change in perspective is all you need to fix writer’s block.
5. Create a challenge
If you’re someone who works well under pressure, this may be the tip for you: fix writer’s block by creating a challenge for yourself. For example, unplug your laptop and tell yourself you need to draft your post or write an ebook chapter before your battery runs out. Don’t have a laptop? Make a pact to write at least 500 words within the next hour.
6. Reward yourself
If you need some motivation to write, plan to reward yourself when you reach a certain milestone. For example, for every 500 words that you get down on a page, watch a YouTube video, listen to a song, or grab a coffee. It may seem unproductive to spend time watching a video or listening to music. But if it makes the difference between making progress on a draft vs. not getting anything done, it’s hard to argue with this strategy. And why not enjoy life while you’re trying to fix writer’s block?
7. Get rid of distractions
If you’re having a hard time writing because you’re on Instagram one minute and Facebook the next, it’s time to unplug. This means signing out of your social media accounts, turning off notifications, and closing your Internet browser. Remember that anyone who needs to contact you in an emergency will call you. Notifications about next week’s holiday party and the latest celebrity scandal can wait. (It takes dedication to fix writer’s block!)
8. Get a change of scenery
If you’ve spent a lot of time sitting at your desk and staring at a blank screen, you may associate the space with writer’s block. To break the spell, try writing somewhere other than your desk. Go to a coffee shop, a library, or a small meeting room. Any space that doesn’t automatically trigger feelings of dread is a great place to start when you’re trying to fix writer’s block.
9. Create an outline
Writing is hard on any day. But it’s even worse if you haven’t taken the time to create an outline. When you write without the help of an outline, you face the pressure of generating awesome ideas and translating them into coherent sentences all in one step. This is hard even for the best writers. Stop stacking the deck against yourself by creating a bullet-point list of the ideas you want to include in your post or report. If you take the time to do this, writing your first draft will be easier and faster. Kick that writer’s block to the curb!
10. Go to a bookstore
Having trouble figuring out what to write your next blog post or ebook on? Head to your nearest bookstore. Look through the tables of contents of books to come up with topics you could write about. Tell yourself that you aren’t allowed to leave until you’ve come up with at least five topics. Sometimes you need to give yourself some tough love to fix writer’s block.
11. Do some chores
We know. Doing chores may seem like the last thing you want to do when you’re already feeling frustrated. But doing a mindless task like washing the dishes or folding laundry may be just what you need to fix writer’s block. These tasks force you to get up and do something different. But because they don’t require a ton of concentration, they’re great when you need to let your ideas simmer in the back of your mind.
12. Start in the middle
The beginning of a blog post or report is often the hardest section to write. You know you need a solid intro to hook your reader and set the stage for what you’re going to talk about. This can make writing your intro feel daunting. Instead of forcing yourself to write your post or report from start to finish, fix writer’s block by drafting easier sections first. When you write easier sections first, you gain confidence and momentum. You also get a better idea of what to include in your intro.
13. Reread old work
If you’re in need of confidence or inspiration, you don’t have to read a bunch of motivational quotes. Instead, you can reread some of your top blog posts, ebooks, or reports. When you’re feeling frustrated and depressed, past work can give you the confidence boost you need by reminding you of what you’re capable of. They can also give you ideas of what to write about and how to structure a draft. The power to fix writer’s block is within you!
These last four tips work best for preventing writer’s block or tackling stubborn writer’s block that lasts for days.
14. Start with just 15 minutes
If writing feels like the most awful task you could do, tell yourself that you’re going to write for just 15 minutes. The first few minutes might feel hard, but there’s a good chance that the remaining minutes will fly be. You might even end up writing for a lot more than 15 minutes because you find your rhythm and want to keep going. And what if writing still sucks after 15 minutes? Well, at least you got 15 minutes worth of writing in. That’s better than none at all.
15. Write regularly
One of the best ways to prevent and fix writer’s block is to write regularly, every day or every few days depending on the amount you need to write. When you write regularly, you get into the swing of writing and build momentum. When writing feels routine, it’s a lot easier to do it each day. Remember, brushing your teeth before bed wasn’t always an easy task for you. But it’s something you probably barely have to think about now.
16. Write at your best time of day
Writing is mentally demanding, so it helps to do it at the time of day when you’re most awake. If you’re a morning person, make writing your first task of the day. And if you’re an evening person, make a date with your keyboard right after dinner. Don’t waste your most productive time of day checking email, scrolling your Facebook news feed, or watching YouTube. It’s not worth your best brain power hours.
17. Write at a different time
We know that this seems like the exact opposite of what we suggested in the last tip, but switching up your routine may be just what you need sometimes. In the same way that you may now associate your desk with the dread and despair of writer’s block, you might notice that you feel particularly anxious and stressed during you typical writing time. To fix writer’s block, try writing at a time of day that isn’t tangled up with the stress and pressure of your usual writing time.
Fix writer’s block today
Writer’s block is frustrating, especially if you have an important deadline coming up. But if it strikes, don’t curl up into fetal position and wallow in despair right away. Instead, keep calm and use these 17 tips to fix writer’s block. You’ve got what it takes to create your next masterpiece. Sometimes you just need a little help getting started.
Need some tips for making sure you come across as intelligent and competent on paper? Check out our post on 7 ways to sound confident when you write.