It can strike at random. One day you’re free-flowing with inspiration and the next you wake up and BAM! Brick wall. You stare at your computer screen for hours and nothing happens.
Where did all your creativity go? What happened to those poetic paragraphs that effortlessly typed their way from your brain to your computer screen yesterday? They’re gone, and you feel helpless.
Writer’s block is real, my friends. That blank screen/journal page/whiteboard can feel full of evasive, unrequited love.
But writer’s block is not an excuse. Actually, Jerry Seinfeld said it better,
Writer’s block is a phony, made up, BS excuse for not doing your work.
When it comes down to it, writing is work. If you’re writing for your business, you need to put in the work to make it successful no matter how creative you’re feeling.
Don’t get me wrong, inspiration and muse are real. There are inspired moments and when you have them, set everything else aside and ride them out as long as you can. They are a beautiful gift of authentic, creative thought. But they can’t be how you run your business.
Inspiration can’t be your go-to system for creating content. You can’t wait on it because more often than not, you’re going to find yourself on a deadline and inspiration is nowhere to be found.
If you only wrote after those times of inspiration there would be no consistency to your work. It would be difficult to build an audience and you wouldn’t hit all the topics you want and need to cover as an authority on your topic.
Even creative writing doesn’t always spring from effortless inspiration. You have to nurture it. You have to set systems in place to help you make that magic happen when it doesn’t spark on it’s own.
7 ways to beat writer’s block
I’ve been a professional writer for over a decade now. That’s more than 10 year’s worth of blog posts, brochures, website copy, billboard ads, radio spots, promo film scripts, newsletters, taglines, and countless deadlines to hit.
Do you think magic happened for all those projects? That would be impossible. If I pulled that writer’s block card every time I felt it was true, you would see maybe one-third of these guides published on time.
Over the years I’ve figured out a few strategies that help me work around writer’s block when I just don’t feel like inspiration is anywhere to be found. Here are seven of those strategies that I try to adhere to every day.
Know when you work best
Creativity is a muscle. If you set up a designated time in the day to write and stick to your schedule, after a while your brain will know it’s time to get down to business. Let muscle memory be your guide and just start writing. The big prerequisite to this is to know when you’re at your most creative.
At ConvertKit we ask ourselves what an ideal day would look like. Thinking through this question made me realize I’m at my most creative in the morning hours, sitting at my kitchen table with a cup of coffee. I like having lunch as a deadline to get X amount of writing done and then I have the afternoon free for administrative work.
Set deadlines and keep them
A big benefit of creating a content calendar is having accountability with yourself. If you’ve set up your year-long content calendar you know what you need to write and when it needs to be done far in advance. Don’t let yourself fudge those dates. Treat them the same way you would treat a deadline for a college paper (assuming you turned things in on time) and don't let yourself make excuses.
If I’m not writing personally, I’m not writing professionally. I have to create space in my day for my own creative writing. It helps clear my head of anything I’ve been thinking about in my life so I have more room for work tasks.
To do this, I set a timer for 10 minutes every morning and free write. That means I don’t stop to think about what I’m writing or why I’m writing it, I just write. Ten minutes may sound like a lot of time, but after a few days, you’ll notice that you keep writing past the buzzer. And honestly, what comes out of those 10 minutes really surprises me sometimes. Self-revelations abound when you’re not paying attention.
Try writing prompts
Have you ever tried writing prompts? These are statements or questions designed to help you think outside your usual train of thought. They spark your imagination and get your mind spinning.
Consider these your new best friends. They’re here to help you get on the right path. They’re here to challenge you. They’re here to help you brainstorm. They’re here to lend a helping hand.
Check out the list of prompts below made lovingly just for you to help you get some words on the screen.
Sitting in the same place every day all day doesn’t lend itself to creativity. If you’re feeling stuck, moving to a new workspace can be just what you need to trick your brain. This can be as simple as moving to a new room if you work from home or heading to a coffee shop for the afternoon. Many creatives are turning to collaborative workspaces for this issue as well.
Don’t be too hard on yourself. I struggle with this one personally. Every sentence you write doesn’t have to immediately be 100% perfect. Writing is a process and sometimes you have to go through a few terrible drafts to create the polished and refined piece you want in the end.
So, write now. Get every idea you have on the paper. Flesh those ideas out as best as you can and go back to edit later.
Give your brain a break
To be at your most creative and problem-solving self, you need to set boundaries on your work. If your brain is overworked, it’s not going to operate at it’s highest quality. This can lead to hours of wasted time staring at a blank screen.
I don’t know about you, but writing wears me out. It’s not good for me to write for multiple, 8 hour days in a row. No matter how much I love the subject matter, my body, mind, and soul are drained from working with too many words. And I know that’s not only true for writers. All creative and non-creative work wears on the body in different ways.
To stay fresh and excited about your work, you have to take care of yourself by stepping away from it. That means having a dedicated end-of-the-work-day time as well as making time for vacation.
Get outside, exercise, read books, try new things, or hang out with friends. Stop thinking about work so much and you just might find that your work will start to feel more effortless.
Start sharing your writing today
While the effects of some of these strategies can be seen quickly, most of them are long-game solutions. Putting them into practice now will help you find creativity in your work no matter your circumstances.
Also, these strategies can be applied to more than just writing. Any kind of creative work can create the frustrations of mental blocks. Use these same tips to work around them.
I challenge you today to figure out what your ideal day is and start from there. Figure out when you’re at your most creative and build a schedule around that. Do your most creatively challenging work when you’re at your best and figure out how to structure your day to power through when inspiration is low.
In the end, work is work and it needs to get done whether you feel like it or not. Don’t let writer’s block be an excuse anymore.
And when you’re ready to start sharing your writing, it’s time to set up your very own newsletter. Sending a consistent newsletter helps you connect with your audience to create loyal fans.