Writer's block is the bane of every freelance writer's existence. One of the hardest things to do as a freelance writer is to overcome writer's block.
Yesterday and today I've had a problem. I've been plagued by writer's block. So, as I sat staring at the computer screen willing the words to come on behalf of a client, I decided to switch gears. And write a post on overcoming writer's block.
When I have a case of writer's block, here are a few freelance writing tips I apply to my situation:
The most common recommendation made to a writer with writer's block is to just get started. We've all heard it. And it's amazing how well it works. It doesn't matter what you write on, or where you write it. Just start writing something. Even if it's nonsense.
Getting started holds true if you are having trouble coming up with an opening line to something you're writing. Just start writing what you know about the topic, and you can craft a first sentence later. Don't get hung up on getting things perfect to begin. Start writing, and once you are in “the zone” things will go much better. You can go back and fix your sad attempts to start later.
Dip Into the Idea Fund
I keep a little black book with me. When I have an idea, I write it down. I have a little notebook by my bed as well. And I keep a document in Google Drive devoted to ideas. I also have a new cell phone that comes with voice memos, and that I have a dictation app for. I haven't really started using the phone for ideas, but I can see how it can help.
When I'm having trouble thinking of something to write, I dip into the “idea fund.” I look over the things I've recorded and choose a subject that seems interesting to me. It's a great way to get an idea and break through writer's block.
Switch Gears for a Little While
This is what I'm doing today to overcome writer's block. Instead of trying to force the issue with an assignment I have, I'm writing about something else. Sometimes switching gears can help in other ways, too.
If I'm slowing down with the writing, and it's coming harder to me, I take a lunch break. Or I go for a brisk walk. I try to do something that helps me re-set.
This is a tough one, though, since sometimes abandoning the effort is more a factor of procrastination. If you find yourself surfing the web, or watching TV, or doing anything but writing, you might be procrastinating rather than seriously trying to overcome writer's block.
In order to avoid falling into the procrastination trap, focus on active things, rather than on distractions. A brisk walk or getting a little (healthy) food into your system can help you re-awaken your mind, and help you re-focus. Distraction seeking just puts off the inevitable and causes more problems down the road.
Encourage Clients to Share Their Own Ideas
As I've become increasingly busy with work, and overwhelmed with clients, it's harder for me to come up with my own ideas. As a result, I've started encouraging clients to share their own topic preferences and ideas. It's been a great way to go to the “idea fund” and find topics to write on.
Even better, I've found that some clients really appreciate the opportunity to provide me with titles and topics, since it gives them the chance to suggest topics built around keywords they are interested in.
Overcoming writer's block is one of the hardest challenges facing freelance writers. However, with a few deep breaths, and some strategies to help you get the juices flowing again, it's possible to begin moving forward.
How do you overcome writer's block?