10 ways to eliminate writers block

Do you sometimes struggle with the writing discipline? You have a broad idea of what you want to say, but faced with writing an entire assignment, article or book, the dread starts to creep in. You don't think you can, and doubt and worry starts to cloud your thinking, and your pen refuses to budge. Then panic takes over. 

You will be pleased to know, there are a couple of things you can do to stop this kind of problem from happening. 

  1. Throw the pen away for the time being. Changing the pen (permanent ink) to a pencil (you can erase this at any time) can be a simple but effective way of telling your brain, it doesn't matter what we write - we can rub it out if it isn't any good. 
  2. Fire up your word processing software on your computer and start making notes, it doesn't have to be in order, you can leave gaps. Save it as "notes" and your brain immediately starts to relax and the words will begin to flow.
  3. You don't need to do any more research. Write down what you know right now. you will be surprised at how little you do need to find out. Perfectionist procrastinators make the excuse that it has to be perfect before it can be handed in, which means knowing everything about a subject before you start writing. Hint - you will never know everything there is to know about a subject. So start writing, you can fill in any gaps later (if you need to).
  4. Write how you speak - unless you speak in a rude, obnoxious manner that is, in which case you will need to modify your writing style. So perhaps a better way to describe this concept is - imagine that you are writing to a single person. "talk" to them. Like all things you may have to edit it back later, but you've crossed the imaginary blank page line.
  5. Focus only on the step in front of you. Do not panic about how long the project is going to take you. Just focus on what you can do now. Just as a book cannot be read in one day (most of the time that is), do not expect to be able to write one in a day either. Just focus on writing the next word, the next sentence, the next paragraph and the words will flow. And when this happens I just hope you can type as fast as your brain speaks to a writer you are just going to have to take my word for it, it does happen.
  6. Start where you are now. Write about what you can see, what you are feeling. I keep a pack of scrap pages in front of me, and write down everything that crosses my mind. Once it is out of the head and onto paper the brain stops worrying that you'll forget and it can move on. Once you have completed this - start straight on with whatever you were worried about and you will find that the worry was not about the document but some other problem you had niggling away at the back of your mind.
  7. Keep a journal. At the end of every day write a series of bullet points (or an essay if you wish) about the good things that happened to you today. Also write down any "lessons" you have learned. For instance yesterday I wrote in mine - I cannot change any one else’s behaviour I can only change mine, and the actions that I take. I can only lead by example. Why? Well next door's children were having a screaming match on their drive, and my writing area is the closest point to their altercation zone. Whilst I have asked these people in the past not to swear at each other, and to stop shouting, it hasn't made any difference what so ever. So rather than get annoyed because they were disrupting my writing time....I turned the music up and tuned them out. Consequently I managed to write 3,000 words to the book I am working on.
  8. Read lots. Rather a strange way of dealing with a writing problem. But one of the things that the Publisher - from the Fremantle Arts Centre Press told us at a writer’s forum was - a lot of would be writers fail because they are not readers. So see how other people structure their writing. Now this is nothing to do with research, just a way of getting the brain into synch with what you want to do today. Before starting last night's writing session (btw 7.30-10.30pm is my usual writing time) I read 3 pages of a book called "Book of Shadows" by Phyllis Curott. It is her published journal. That's all it took - just 3 pages and I was ready to start.
  9. Leave a paragraph half finished if you need to take a break from your writing. Then when you sit back down, re-read the paragraph and your brain will remember where it was and what it was going to say next.
  10. Send yourself a message. A good trick for the end of the day. Attach the document to a mail message and send it to yourself. Write notes in the body of the message about what still needs to be done and you will be able to complete the task in half the time had you stayed late and laboured over the work that still needed to be done.

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