Writers block is every writer’s worst nightmare.
It always happens to me when I have a big deadline looming over me. I start to feel weighed down by the pressure to write an amazing article. To write a piece that’s ten times better than my last one. To write a piece that gets shared and makes people think differently.
I put a lot of bloody pressure on myself.
And that’s probably why my inner writer freaks out and deserts me. No one can perform under that kind of pressure, not even my inner voice.
I never used to believe in my inner writer. When people would describe writing as an out of body experience, like someone else was writing through them, I would scoff. But over the last six months, I’ve noticed a change in my writing habits.
Now, when I sit down to write a blog post or copy for clients I get into the zone quickly. And before I know it, I’ve finished the copy. Sometimes it feels like I don’t even have to think about it. Words, connections and ideas come to my head instantly. I need to edit less and I’m not as tired after writing. In fact, I often feel invigorated. A bit like I got something off my chest and I feel lighter for it.
But I don’t always feel this way when I’m writing my published pieces.
The only difference between writing copy for my blog or clients compared to my writing pieces, is the pressure I place on myself. That’s it. And while I’m trying to put less pressure on myself to write, it isn’t always easy.
So when I’m left with a blank page, a knot in my gut and an empty head, I first curse my inner writer for deserting me and then I do one (or a combination of the actions below) to take the edge off while I wait for her to return.
Get stuff in order
When I can’t form words I make a writing plan, do research or get my notes organised. It feels good to be in control. Sometimes an idea comes to me when I’m organising my notes and I started writing without realising. If this fails to get me writing again at least I’ve got everything ready when my inner writer’s back.
Nothing beats the feeling when I’ve thought of an awesome idea, I’ve pitched it and it gets accepted at one of my favourite magazines. This little boost does wonders for my confidence and self-esteem. Also, looking ahead to my next article gives me a sense of progress and often helps me get unstuck.
Avoid content and the internet
It seems counterintuitive but filling myself up with other people’s content – be it Netflix, blogs or hard news – doesn’t help me write. It actually makes it harder. I find it difficult to come up with original ideas and make connections when I’ve watched five back-to-back episodes of Outlander. Trust me I’ve tried. Now I avoid bingeing on content and instead sit with my own thoughts. Generally, after an hour of staring out the window, I get a great idea and rush to the computer to write it down.
Get active and go outside
I know you love to think writers spend their days sipping cocktails on a beach. I’m afraid this isn’t true. Some days I spend over 15 hours sitting in front of a screen. It sucks. That’s why when I have writers block I force myself to get out of my chair and walk it off. I go to the gym or for a walk around the park, and as I’m exercising my subconscious is still working. I find when I get back to my laptop I’m tired making it easier for me to ignore other distractions and focus solely on writing my piece.
Do something else entirely
When I can’t write I get frustrated and I want to flip my desk over. Instead, I call it a day and go and do something fun like catching up with friends, cleaning the house (yes! I love cleaning) or planning my next trip. Somehow not thinking about it helps with my nerves. I also do a lot of writing in my head. Sometimes I draught whole pieces. While this might sound crazy, it helps me stop editing myself out of my piece which is easy to do when I’m sitting in front of my computer with the DELETE button. I’ll often write my pieces in my head when I’m vacuuming the house or travelling to meet friends on the tram.
Did you find these tips helpful? How do you overcome writer’s block? Do you believe we have an inner writer? I would love to hear your thoughts! Leave me a message below.
Featured image from Pexel.