Imagine this scenario:
You drag yourself to the computer. You stare at the screen. You’re suddenly hungry. You’re dying to check Facebook and your inbox. Oops, forgot that coffee. And the electric bill has to be paid this very second.
In other words, you have absolutely no idea what to write about.
What’s your excuse?
Did the above send shivers up and down your spine, or is it just me?
Why do we writers have such trouble doing the very thing that defines us? I’ll bet your answer is one of the following:
- writer’s block
- “all out of ideas”
Let’s take each excuse and nuke it.
There is no such thing as writer’s block.
I repeat: There is no such thing as writer’s block.
Does this make you feel misunderstood? Or just plain mad? Hear me out anyway.
Writer’s block is a catch-all word for any of our excuses for not writing. And yes, I’m also talking to myself. Although writing can be hard, don’t you agree that the thought of writing is even harder?
The answer is to write.
The rest of this post will give you hands-on solutions to your writing problems. In addition, here’s a wonderful article in Write to Done. (I was privileged to publish a guest post there a few weeks ago.) The author never uses the term “writer’s block.” Instead, he gives upbeat ideas for overcoming what he calls obstacles and roadblocks.
As I discussed in a previous post, procrastination is another term for Fear – and all the “what ifs” that come with it. Here’s the solution: Promise yourself that you will write for just 6 to 10 minutes. Even if you begin by typing the lyrics to “Mary Had a Little Lamb,” your fingers will be forced down the keyboard catwalk and you’ll be on your way.
Make your daily writing minimum 6 minutes only, and even if it takes a bit longer to write your piece, it will eventually get done. Every finished article or book will build your confidence, making each new project easier to complete.
You can also fake yourself out and get started by outlining your article, book, or blog. This is what Ramit Sethi calls “front-loading the work.” Outlining is powerful because it allows you to employ stream-of-consciousness, or what some people call a brain dump, which is much less stressful than “real” writing. Very often after outlining, your piece will write itself.
I wrote the outline for this post by hand because I couldn’t get access to my computer and found myself sitting around reading yet another trashy novel. I said to myself, “That’s it,” got out a yellow legal pad, and wrote at the kitchen table.
All out of ideas
Think you have nothing to write about? Try this: write by hand for 10 or 15 minutes about a specific event in your life. This kick-starts your creativity and ignites your senses. Describe the sounds, smells, and textures associated with the event. Eventually you will have an entire archive of experiences and emotions you can dip into when looking for ideas. You can read more about my solution, which I call “method writing,” in my most recent guest post, which went live last week on Book Baby, a website for authors who want to self-publish.
Another way to come up with something to write about is to have a list of prompts, which are like word associations for writers. Prompts can be as random as “my first date” or “why I like soda.” Pick one and you’re good to go. You’ll never be out of an idea again.
Because I love you so much, I am offering a free ebook called “144 Prompts: Your Daily Writing Guide,” which you can access either here, in my Book Baby guest post, or below. Your friends can get this guide, too; just click on one of the social media icons!
No more excuses
The problem with making a “thing” out of writer’s block is that it makes, well, a “thing” out of it. Instead, use one or more of the solutions I’ve delineated in this post. Let me know in the Comments what worked and what didn’t.
And for 144 ways to overcome a writing slump be sure to download my free ebook, “144 Prompts.”