Have you ever felt empty and inadequate when faced with a blank sheet of paper or computer screen? Where have all your brilliant ideas disappeared to?
You’re not the only one to have experienced this temporary stumbling block.
Some professional writers will deny the existence of writer’s block. And the reason for that, it’s because they’ve developed strategies to prevent it before it destroys their livelihood.
So don’t wait for writer’s block to lead to low self-esteem and anxiety. Try these techniques from the Pros:
1. Beat the Clock
To avoid writer’s block, jot headline ideas and a few sentences prior to the day you’re planning to write. This way, on the official writing day, you’re not staring at a blank page or screen but at a document already with some notes that will get you started.
2. ‘Night before’ technique
You can read your notes the night before and let your subconscious mind come up with ideas. When you wake up, quickly write your ideas down before they disappear. This strategy is used by writers who write best in the early morning.
3. Refer to your swipe file and ideas log
Collect snippets of headlines, phrases or whole articles that inspire you. By keeping an ideas log and swipe file, you’ll have a backup to prevent writer’s block.
4. Start with a no-brain task
If you feel flat and uninspired, start with a no-brainer task e.g. sort your research or write an outline. The idea is to get you started. In no time, you’ll gain the momentum and achieve more than you anticipated.
5. Focus on starting, rather than finishing
This strategy is similar to the brain-dead goal. It’s about focusing on leaving the starting block rather than eye balling the distant finishing line. It’s less stressful to think about writing a sentence than having to write 500 words.
6. Don’t start by the introduction
The introduction is the 2nd most important element of an article, the headline being the first. Based on the opening lines, the reader will decide if the article is worth reading. Naturally, this puts a lot of pressure on you and for perfectionists, a reason to procrastinate. Write the body of your article first and come back to the introduction. You’ll probably find it easier to write the introduction once you have the momentum going and the pressure has released.
7. Time yourself
Eugene Schwartz, the (late) great copywriter, would set his kitchen timer to 33 minutes and 33 seconds. During that time, he gave himself permission to do anything but leaving his chair. He would get so bored that he would start writing to pass time. When the timer went off, he would take a break and then, he would reset the timer and start again the same process.
Don’t despair, your ideas haven’t disappeared, they’re still there in your head but they just need a little push. This could be likened to childbirth, some babies come smoothly from the womb but some others need a push and even forceps.
Give yourself every chance, set strategies to prevent writer’s block and let your ideas flow naturally.