If you’ve been blogging for any length of time, I bet you’ve experienced your fair share of writer’s block. Don’t worry. It’s normal. It happens to every great blogger from time to time.
When I sat down to write this blog post, all was well. I had a rare moment of peace. My one year old wasn’t home, and my 1 month old was sleeping soundly. This post was by far the most urgent thing on my to do list, since it’s supposed to be published in just 4 days. I had a topic picked out for the post, plus a list of at least 20 more topic ideas in case my first topic just wasn’t coming together.
I sat down in front of the computer ready to write. I stared at the screen for at least 5 minutes. Then I figured I should probably check my e-mail again (you know, just in case something super urgent came in the last 5 minutes). That distracts me for at least 20 minutes. Unwisely, however, I didn’t actually answer any of my e-mails. Instead I throughly wasted time by doing nothing but looking at them and thinking about them. Of course, I wasn’t supposed to be doing e-mail. I was supposed to be writing a post, so by simply looking at them, I wasn't actually veering off task, right? I use some pretty sound logic, don’t I?
Next, I gave myself a short pep talk and get back to writing the post. I wrote a sentence that I really didn't like. I decided to try another topic. So I went back to my topics list and tried another one. I typed the title and kept staring at the screen.
That's when I got the brilliant idea to check Facebook (you know, just in case there was something there that would help me write my post). I head there and waste another few minutes. Then I went back to staring at my blank screen again, and chose yet another topic. Then I got a snack (because clearly it had been a whole hour since I ate breakfast and I was completely famished), and you know how the story goes.
Before I actually started a blog, I thought the life of a full time blogger must be so glamorous, but there’s nothing glamorous about writer’s block.
Fortunately, after an hour and a half of my crazy, writer’s block induced, time wasting antics, I finally got myself in gear and got this post written in less than 25 minutes!! Honestly, the only reason that I finally managed to get my fingers flying over the keyboard was that I knew I only had a short amount of time until my baby would need to eat again.
Besides a serious time limit, what did I do differently that finally allowed me to pump out several paragraphs in just a few minutes? Here it is. This is truly the secret to beating writer’s block:
I STOPPED editing my work as I went. The process of writing is NOT editing.
If you try to edit and criticize you work as you go, you’ll never get it done. I finally picked a topic and just started writing. I dismissed each critical thought as it entered my head. I ignored the fact that my intro sounded way too much like every other intro I write. I ignored the fact that I kept switching tenses from past to present as I told the story. I ignored the fact that I made the story part so long that none of you would still be reading by the time I got to the actual, useful advice. Next time you experience writer’s block, give it a try. Edit only after you write.
Here’s a few other practical things that help beat writer’s block:
- Take a break. Sometimes you just need a break. Go take a 5 minute walk or do a little housework and come back refreshed. A good break should involve getting up out of your chair (not sitting in your chair checking social media).
- Give yourself a deadline. Set a timer. I know this might sound like the opposite of taking a break, but sometimes you just need to sit down and force yourself to do it. There’s a time to take breaks and there’s a time to just keep on going until you get it done.
- Batch your writing. As much as possible, I try to write a lot at once. Once I get on a roll, it’s a lot easier to keep going than to get back into it again.
- Make sure you’re writing about the right topic. If you are constantly experiencing writer’s block and feel like it just never flows, maybe you’ve chosen the wrong blog topic. Years ago I tried to start a blog about a topic that I wasn’t all that passionate about. I never even managed to actually launch the blog.
What are your thoughts? How do you combat writer's block? I'd love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.
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