5 Steps to Dissolve Your Writer’s Block (with nods to Cory Eridon, Seth Godin & Nick Usborne)

In his blog today on Hubspot, writer Cory Eridon provided 10 tips on how to overcome writer’s block. Visit  http://bit.ly/11sq7k5 to read more.

But in today’s blog posting, I have five tips of my own, a couple of which overlap with Cory’s and others which have come from my own writing experience. Read on.

(1)   “What should I write about? “ This question comes up when you don’t know how to choose (or even think up) a topic for your blog posting, social media stream, etc.  When you’re surfing the net or reading anything at all, keep a list (hard copy, if necessary) of interesting and useful topics. AWAI-trained, Ontario-based copywriter John Wood has written powerful articles on combatting the topic shortage, available as free content. See  http://bit.ly/YXDFlf

If you’re an organization or company, hire me to write for you! I’m a curious and creative copywriter and editor, with wide-ranging interests.

(2)   “I’m not comfortable with my writing ‘persona’ or voice. As Cory himself suggests, write as if you were speaking to a valued colleague in your field. Be sure to avoid jargon and bafflegab.  It’s your ideas, not the language in which you couch them, that determine the value of your writing. Don’t try to disguise a lack of thinking in big language.

(3)   “I get intimidated by the blank screen or page.”  Write in a non-linear way. Start by sketching out a project (e.g. in a hard-copy sketch or by Mindmap), writing in whatever thoughts are clearest to you, as you begin a project. Then build an outline that you can fill in. If the material is very new, you may also find pre-writing (in a stream-of-consciousness style) can help you to discover what you think about a topic. Thinking and writing are not linear or mutually-defined processes. Be prepared to move back and forth among your ideas. And keep a daily journal of your thoughts and activities, if you find that you feel regularly blocked. Writing daily helps to overcome intimidation.

(4)   “Well, I’m not sure where to begin so I’m just going to put in the laundry . . . .” Don’t let distractions of any kind (unless it’s an emergency) overtake your productive hours. That means thinking and writing for two to three hours at a stretch (with brief breaks only for stretching or using the bathroom), without checking your email, answering phone messages, or sending texts or social media updates. Do that and repeat, until your day is done. Be vigilant on this!

(5)   “I’m not good enough (or well-trained enough) to write this.” The “imposter complex” rears its ugly head for writers and practitioners in any field, when they’re first finding their footing. It can also return when experienced writers switch their niches. The imposter complex essentially sabotages you from writing anything, by attacking you merely for being inexperienced in a task or unfamiliar with a topic (e.g. “I don’t know about x and when people read my y they’ll find me out and I’ll get fired!”) Don’t let the imposter syndrome rule the day! Your copy could be read by others who are less experienced than you! Your newcomer status might allow you to inject new and creative thinking in a well-trodden field.  If you have been writing for some time, chances are quite good that you’ll know more about the process and topic than many of your readers.

Also, remember the “lizard brain” that marketing guru Seth Godin discusses in Linchpin: Are you Indispensable (see my earlier blogs on it)? That is the nay-saying, fear-obeying part of our brains that would rather that we give up (without a fight) than actually complete a project. Remember D.W. Winnicott’s “good-enough mother”? We should all aim for projects that are perfectly good-enough. Look back over some of your recent projects. You may be surprised by how well they read and sound, since you can only unleash your creativity and capacity to think deeply by subduing the “lizard” or rejecting the “imposter complex.”

There are five ways to control writer’s block, to get you back to a productive mental space. In addition to reading Godin’s inspiring Linchpin: Are you Indispensable, I highly recommend the e-book, Profitable Freelancing by Montreal-based marketing genius, Nick Usborne. It’s available as an e-book from AWAI (see http://bit.ly/RJBGy3). Nick’s program examines how to keep the creative processes of writing going, by subduing all of the “clutter” (mental and not only physical) that threatens to undermine our productivity. Highly recommended reading!

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