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Four Creative Ways to Overcome Writer’s Block
Writer’s block can be debilitating. And the more projects you have to write—and the shorter the deadlines for them—the more debilitating writer’s block can become. Luckily, there’s help. Brandon Turner in his piece for Entrepreneur, “Four Actionable Ways to Overcome Writer’s Block,” offers some creative solutions to this oh-too-typical writer ailment. Here is the article (edited for space).
Have you ever sat down to write and then . . . just sat there, not getting anything down? Whether you are trying to write a book, blog post or something entirely different, writer’s block is a real thing that will not only bring your progress to a grinding halt but will piss you off in the process.
So, how can you ensure that your words flow seamlessly from your mind, through your fingertips and onto the screen, with no breaks? How can you cure writer’s block once and for all? Here are four actionable tips that have helped me personally overcome writer’s block and write over 250,000 words in the past year.
1. Practice ‘the kindergarten trick.’
Remember when you were a little kid and your teacher had you do simple “fill in the blank” sentences for homework? Something like:
My favorite color is ________.
My mom’s name is ______.
We never struggled with writer’s block to answer those questions, right? The reason is that the topic was already defined, and all we needed to do was insert an answer!
That’s why the easiest way to overcome writer’s block is to make your work “fill in the blanks.” How? Through detailed outlining. And the more detail you put into your outline, the easier it will be to finally write.
In fact, before writing this post today, I spent five minutes outlining each point. When it came time to write, all I needed to do was “fill in the blanks” for each section, explaining the point in more detail. This entire post took less than 30 minutes to write because I didn’t have to think too hard. I didn’t have to make decisions. I didn’t spend 30 minutes thinking, “Hmm . . . what should I write about today?”
2. Write like a professional athlete.
Have you ever watched a professional golfer get ready to drive the golf ball? Or a professional basketball player prepare to shoot a free throw? Or a baseball pitcher get ready to throw another speedball?
When these professional athletes prepare to do a task they’ve done a million times before, they almost always do the exact same routine. Maybe that means taking three steps to the right. Maybe it’s dribbling the ball three times. Whatever the routine, all the great ones have one. Why? Because routines help get the mind into the right “success mentality.” The same is true for the writer. So, what is your “writing routine”?
When I recently wrote The Book on Rental Property Investing, my routine was simple:
- Wake up at 5:30 a.m.
- Drink a glass of water.
- Do five minutes of stretching.
- Sit on the exact same spot on my couch I always do.
- Open up my laptop.
- Review my outline (see tip 1 above!).
- Start writing.
Every day for 100 days, this is what I did, and I never struggled with writer’s block. Through my writing routine, I was able to get myself “into the zone” immediately, limiting any distractions that would lead to writer’s block.
3. Get a little creepy with your friends.
Okay, this next tip is a little “off the wall,” but I truly believe it can be one of the best ways to overcome the difficulty in knowing what to write.
First, decide whom you are writing for. No—not the writer’s personality type or gender or age. Pick a specific person, the ideal person who is going to love reading your post. Look over your Facebook friends list and pick one particular individual. Maybe it’s your mom. Maybe it’s your brother. Then, (and this is where it gets weird), print out his or her photo on 8.5” x 11-inch paper. Place that photo next to you while you write.
Now, all you need to do is write to that person—specifically. How will you explain your topic to him or her? How will you tell your story? Rather than writing to some “unknown reader,” you are now writing specifically to one person. It’s amazing how well this little trick will work.
4. Write until it gets good.
A lot of “writer’s block” is actually not a block at all, but self-criticism. You start to write and then you read back what you just wrote and you are disgusted with yourself. “How could I have written such a flaming piece of garbage?” Then you stop. Or try to edit. Then you sit there, too paralyzed to move forward because doubt about your skills has crept in. And you are stuck.
When I write, I simply write. I don’t edit. I don’t look back. I don’t try to second-guess every sentence. If I feel stuck, I simply write more. And more. And more. After I finish, I can go back and edit, but I’m not going to let self-criticism slow me down. The best way out is through, so keep writing and it’ll turn from bad to good in no time. If you feel stuck in your writing, don’t panic. Just simply review the four steps outlined above and get to work. Once you’re “in the zone,” take a look at the photo of the person you are writing to and have a conversation. Finally, stop criticizing yourself and just write — every single day.
- Male turkeys gobble; female turkeys cackle.
- Each year, Americans prepare 46 million turkeys for Thanksgiving.
- Eighty percent of Americans prefer Thanksgiving dinner leftovers to the actual meal.
- The first Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in 1924 had no balloons; they were added in 1927.
- A traditional Thanksgiving dinner serves up more than 3,000 calories and 229 grams of fat, up to four times the fat you should eat in a day.
- After three decades of lobbying, writer and editor Sarah Josepha Hale finally convinced then President Abraham Lincoln to officially declare Thanksgiving a national holiday, which he did in 1863.
- Which profession gets the most house calls the day after Thanksgiving: carpenters, plumbers, appliance repair people, painters?
(Fun Facts Answer: Scroll to the bottom.)
Word of the Month
pecuniary | pih-KYOO-nee-air-ee | adjective
• of or relating to money
“Because Keith talked so much about the money he made selling items on eBay and other pecuniary topics, no one wanted to eat lunch with him.”
Wacky & Wise Websites
Click here to see a list of the 25 greatest vampire movies ever made and, as a nice bonus, you can watch the trailer of each one.
Click here to check out all the deals on Amazon’s little-known coupon page.
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SATisfy Your Curiosity
SAT Exam practice question: Choose the word that, when inserted in the sentence, best fits the meaning of the sentence as a whole.
Currently rising temperatures in the Arctic and Antarctic are _____ of a still warmer world that could result from an excess of atmospheric carbon dioxide produced by the burning of oil, gas, and coal.
(SAT Answer: Scroll to the bottom.)
The origins of the phrase seven seas goes back to ancient times. In various cultures at different times in history, the term seven seas has referred to bodies of water along trade routes, regional bodies of water, or exotic and far-away bodies of water. In Greek literature, which is where the phrase entered Western literature, the seven seas were the Aegean, Adriatic, Mediterranean, Black, Red, and Caspian seas, with the Persian Gulf thrown in as a “sea.”
After Europeans “discovered” North America, the concept of the seven seas changed again. Mariners then referred to the seven seas as the Arctic, the Atlantic, the Indian, the Pacific, the Mediterranean, the Caribbean, and the Gulf of Mexico. While few people use this phrase today, when they do they are referring to seven oceans: Arctic, Antarctic, North Atlantic, South Atlantic, North Pacific, South Pacific, and Indian.
In general, a sea is defined as a portion of the ocean that is partly surrounded by land. Given that definition, there are about 50 seas around the world today. But that number includes bodies of water not always thought of as seas, such as the Gulf of Mexico and the Hudson Bay.
Answer: harbingers, because a harbinger is a sign of something yet to come. Temperatures are presented as harbingers in this sentence because they show that “a still warmer world” might be coming.
Fun Facts Answer
Plumbers. Roto-Rooter reports that kitchen drains, garbage disposals, and yes, toilets, require more attention the day after Thanksgiving than any other day.