In the old days, writing tended to be done by writers. But since social media and content marketing came on the scene, small business owners are finding they need to write articles, blog posts, reports, short e-books and more. In a way we all need to be writers now.
As I was working on my next e-book (it’s going to help you get better results from social media in less time, so watch out for that. 🙂 ) coach Bianca Forbes put out a request to her writer friends on Facebook. She was writing a post for the International Coach Federation’s blog and had a case of writers block, so she asked us what we did to get around it.
So here are my top five ways of getting past writer’s block:
1. Step away from the computer
I don’t know about you, but I find a computer isn’t all that great for creativity. So if you’re struggling for ideas, go and do something else instead. If you’re working to a tight deadline then even ten minutes can help. If you’ve got more time then try doing something completely different such as taking a nap, a walk around the block or even housework.
Sometimes I grab a large piece of paper – at least A3 – and draw a mind map. This helps me both come up with new ideas and as a kind of download process. If I can empty some of the contents of my mind onto a piece of paper it leaves more space to think about what I want to write!
2. Keep writing
Alternatively, just write. Don’t edit yourself as you go along, just get it all down. You can easily edit it later. Get some momentum then use that to keep you moving forward.
3. Outline it
An outline is a list of headings and looks a lot like a table of contents. These days I try to write the outline before I begin the book or article, but sometimes I get carried away and just write! If I’m mid-project and I’m stuck for what to write, I write just the headings for the rest of the book or article.
Once I’ve got my outline I go back and write the text under each heading in whatever order takes my fancy. If I feel like writing chapter twelve then I start with that and then use the momentum to keep me going. It’s easy enough to review it at the end to make sure it all hangs together properly.
Outlining your book or post before you begin can help avoid writer’s block in the first place. For example, if you’re writing a blog post decide the main point you want across, come up with three or five examples or tips to support that, then write a paragraph or two to support each. Also, decide at the beginning on the purpose of the article from your point of view. Is it to get traffic to your website? Email addresses on your mailing list? To position yourself as an expert? It’s far easier to write if you know what you’re writing and why.
4. Focus on who you’re trying to help
It’s easy to get wrapped up in yourself when you’re writing…is that good enough? Do I sound expert enough? Is my grammar correct? This can put you under a lot of block-inducing pressure. Instead I try to focus on who I’m writing for. Is this the most helpful advice I could give them? What would that person most want or need to know ?
5. Ask yourself “What’s stopping me?”
Another technique I’ve learned recently is to step away from it all and ask myself “What’s stopping me?” If I give myself some space for the answer to come it’s often very simple, for example “I’m afraid of screwing it up and looking an idiot”. Then I can work on what’s really stopping me – often a daft fear or just tiredness – rather than beating myself up to get through the block.
Good luck with your writing! (And here’s Bianca’s post on the ICF blog.)