Writer’s block, procrastination, fear of the blank page (or blinking cursor), whatever you personally call it, it happens to everybody at some point.
So what to do when it feels like getting even a single word on the page is torture? Lock yourself in a room? Banish all distractions? Abandon ship?
Besides just being unrealistic, these ‘solutions’ will probably just make matters worse, as forcing things when it comes to writing rarely ever helps.
Here are 7 tricks for getting started and busting through writer’s block:
Method 1 – Pre-write your post
As soon as you land on a topic for your post – take 5-10 minutes to just jot down your ideas. It doesn’t have to be written well, but it’s a great step to relieve some pressure on yourself, and make sure that when you write the piece, you’ll remember what you were thinking when you originally came up with the idea.
Unless it’s a dire situation (deadline-in-an-hour kind of thing), try to leave some time between your pre-writing and when you sit down to write the actual post.
Method 2 – Interview yourself
If you’re having trouble getting started, an easy thing to do is think up some questions that you’d ask someone else if you were interviewing them about the subject. Once you have 3-5 questions, simply answer them.
You can either answer them by writing, recording yourself, using the talk to text function on your phone or, my personal new favourite, voice typing in Google Docs. Once you’ve answered the questions, you’ll have most, if not all, of the text you need to start constructing and organizing a first draft.
Method 3 – Try the Snowflake method
This method is typically used for writing books, but the premise is the same when you use it for blogs (or any other type of content, for that matter). Basically you create an outline and just keep expanding it until you have a well-organized first draft.
Start by writing down your main points. Then expand each one into sub points, examples, stories, etc. It’s my main method and can help you come up with a 1000-word post easily – without even realizing you’ve done it.
Method 4 – Survey the source
Really not sure where to begin? Go straight to the source. Ask your readers, groups of potential readers and peers what they’d like help with on your blog topic. That way you deliver exactly what they want and you’ll even be able to describe their problems in the exact language they use.
You can ask your email list, or query in a Facebook group or really any place where you have access to a group of interested people.
Method 5 – Set a timer
Parkinson’s law says that time expands to fill the work allotted to it. So if you have all day to write a post, it’ll likely take you all day to write it. 2 hours? It’ll probably only take two. So what does it mean if you haven’t assigned a time to the task? Well, you might never get it done or it’ll be done when it’s done.
So try setting a timer for your first draft. 25 minutes on the clock and go! You’ll be surprised at how much you can get done when you’re working with a predefined set amount of time.
Method 6 – Create a template
More of a long-term approach, but creating a template can greatly reduce the time it takes you to write your blog post every time. And if you’re honest with yourself, it isn’t like you’re reinventing the wheel (in terms of format) every time you write something new for your blog. And you shouldn’t be throwing what’s working out the window every single time you’re creating something new.
So create a template that supports the types of posts you write and just fill in the blanks.
Method 7 – Track inspiration
If you have trouble writing because you aren’t sure what to write about, using a system for tracking (and cataloguing) inspiration can be mucho helpful.
Set up a regular routine of collecting your inspiration from all sources (think Facebook group threads, articles, bookmarks, pins, etc.) and put them into a single location. Make sure to categorize them for easy sorting, make a note of why you find it inspiring, and what your initial ideas are for how to use it for yourself!
If all else fails? Walk away and give yourself a break. I love this quote from Doug Kessler: “An hour with a fresh mind is worth five hours of fog.”
I can’t wait to hear from you! What do you do when you’re suffering from writer’s block?