Writer’s block is an often discussed topic in blogging and writing communities. Simply put, it is the inability to come up with new ideas and write consistently. It’s either lack of ideas or not being able to write well about them. I think it also includes not having enough motivation to actually sit down and produce some work. There are at least 4 kinds of blocked writers, according to this article in The New Yorker. The situation is more dire for fiction writers who make a living out of it than for casual bloggers. And writer’s block seems to be as old as writing itself given the number of authors through out history who have suggested their own fix to the malady.
I have been through the “What the hell do I write about” phase during the early days of my blogging. I did struggle a lot on my personal blog. And have had vacant spots even while writing this blog. But since not writing wasn’t an option here, I do everything in my power to cover the gaps.
Over time, I have learnt a few things that can keep the steady flow of ideas going and you could actually sit down to write about. Here’s my secret recipe to beat writer’s block:
1. Carry a tiny notebook: Or notes app of your phone will do too. When I first came across this advice, I pfffft-ed it and thought who can carry a book all the time. But an extra Moleskin book that I did know what to do with ended up in my hand bag. That became my write-ideas-as-they-occur-to-you book. And soon I had so many of my own ideas that I hardly used prompts for blogging challenges.
2. Planning the posts: I don’t mean creating a strict editorial schedule of posts. It’s hard to follow it to the T and a rough idea of what should go out in the next few weeks is good enough. And then pick an idea that appeals the most to you at the time and jot down points that come to your mind. For instance, I thought of writing on writer’s block and points have occurred to me at different times – and the little book to the rescue. (I am also someone who needs some distance between writing and posting. New points will mostly occur to me when I let my ideas stew a bit) So when I sat down to write today, my points were ready. I am less likely to think of more after I have posted this. And the structure is ready for me to follow.
3. Posts can be short/varied: I have always believed in long form writing. But I also know there are concepts like microblogging Mondays and wordless wednesdays. This made me realise that there can be different ways to present the same idea. Photos and meaningful text to go with it can be a great post in itself. All posts need not resemble a thesis. This not just adds variety for the reader but also makes it fun for you to write.
4. Write in the morning: Another piece of advice I thought was buhawkee! But then I still don’t mean you need to be up at 4 am to finish your post. I don’t do that either. But the output is a lot better and stress free if you get some typing done in the morning. Not much – maybe arrive at work 15 minutes early and start working on the post of the week. You can add a bit during lunch too. Writing at the end of the day can be tiring and harder to stick to. Although if you are someone who’s energised the moment the kids go to sleep, be my guest!
5. Type straight on the blog screen: I have started doing this for a blogging challenge and found that it worked better. I used to keep jotting ideas and partial posts in a word doc, almost finish writing there and then paste into the blog. I think the editing work increases because the look changes from a word doc to a blog screen. Also, writing here straight away feels like one step ahead of the rough draft I’d usually first type out on the doc. Even the future drafts stay here. That way I know what’s in the pipeline.
6. Write when inspiration hits you: I am sure the best of writers hit a block at some point in time. Everyone goes through a dry spell once in a while. Especially so when we are a burnt out generation mostly juggling jobs, family, kids, taxes, social media, traffic and a lot more. So, if you find yourself swamped with life around you, relax! Let it be for a bit. If you are scared people might forget you or you don’t want to leave a gaping hole of your absence on your blog, you can reblog/repost stuff from the internet. Add a quick introductory paragraph to it for context. Your readers come to your blog to read interesting stuff and they will get it any which way.
Here are 7 strategies from famous writers about overcoming writer’s block.
And here is some more positive reinforcement to help you set your daily word goal and stick to it. simple!
What has your experience been with writer’s block? Do you have any tricks up your sleeve to deal with it? I’d love to hear your experiences. Do comment below.