How to Beat Writer’s Block – 5 Quick Tips

by Jeremy Powers on September 1, 2010

You have been staring at the blinking cursor for ten minutes now.  When you finally put your hands back on the keyboard, you find yourself navigating to your email or the web, rather than writing what needs to be written.  You are stuck.  You have writer’s block.

Unlike me, you probably do not spend hours each day writing marketing plans or copy for websites, brochures, sales letters, and other marketing materials.  Like me, however, you have undoubtedly had a letter, email, or other written response which you simply could not compose. 

Recently, I have been working with two companies which both treat chronic illnesses and the elderly.  These are good companies marketing good products and services.  As I entered the mind of the consumer to write copy that would appeal, however, I got stuck.  I had become too emotionally invested, and nothing I wrote seemed adequate. 

At first, I refused to admit I was stuck.  When I finally recognized I was simply avoiding working on this part of the project, however, I knew the tricks to push through.  Here are 5 techniques you can apply beat writer’s block:

  1. Close Applications – If you write on a computer, close all of the applications other than the one you are writing in.  This is no time for multi-tasking.
  2. Stretch – Relieving the tension in your muscles can relieve the tension in your mind.  Stretch your major muscle groups, and be sure to take deep slow breaths while you do.  Focusing on your stretches and breathing will leave you with a relieved body and a clear head.
  3. Outline or list – There are proven effective content layouts for almost any kind of writing.  Experienced writers can usually identify a similar writing project from their past and use it as a guide.  If you don’t have a “grab file” to work from, simply listing the main points you need to communicate can help you structure the piece.
  4. Change format – You may find moving to a different location, software, or computer works for you.  For me, moving to a pen and paper often works.  I have even had occasional success with simply changing fonts in my word processor.  One friend of mine overcomes blocks by pulling out a spiral notebook and putting on a hat.
  5. Write – You have to convince yourself the first draft will not be used.  In fact, tell yourself the first draft will never be seen by another living soul.  You just have to get something on paper that is applicable.  Push yourself.  You will take no more walks.  You will get no more glasses of water.  You will not daydream.  You MUST get some words down.

Once you break the block, keep going.  Eventually, you will find yourself smiling as you write, and that is how you will recognize victory.

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