If you write content, whether it’s long-form articles, ad copy, or social media updates, it’s more than likely you’ve encountered writer’s block at least once. The symptoms are the same: a blank page, an empty mind, and a fast-approaching deadline.
You may have even done research and have your notes ready to go, but when it comes to putting the proverbial “pen to paper” no words appear. It’s easy to get yourself into a deep rut with writer’s block – I’ve done it myself more times than I can count. The much more challenging feat is knowing how to get yourself out of it.
In this post, we’ll take a look at 11 tips (in no particular order) that will help you beat that writer’s block for good:
1. Take a Step Back
I’ll find myself in a block mid-way through an article when suddenly, I have no idea how to move forward. I’m not confident about what I’m writing or why, or if anything I’m saying makes sense. In moments like these, I like to take a step back from the page.
Walk away from your computer (or notebook). Take a few minutes to distract your mind for a few minutes – go for a walk around the block, make some lunch, watch a little TV. If time affords, sleep on it and come back to the post in the morning. With fresh eyes, you’ll be able to reassess the path you’re on and feel ready to keep writing.
2. Read Other Content
And I don’t necessarily mean content about the topic you’re writing about. Read a post from a blogger you admire or tackle the first couple chapters of a book on your reading list.
Reading other people’s writing not only improves your vocabulary and cognitive skills, but it can also help you to a. relax and b. find inspiration. When you come back to the page, you’ll probably find yourself calmer with the words flowing easier.
3. Get a Change of Scenery
It’s exactly what it sounds like – get up, get moving, go outside and go for a walk (or a run), or just go into a different room of your house. Sometimes all it takes to get your mind working again is the right atmosphere: If you’ve been sitting for 2 hours and still have a blank page, try writing somewhere else.
4. Start Writing, Even If It’s Bad
You know what’s a really easy cure for writer’s block?
…writing. It doesn’t have to be good; it doesn’t even have to be full sentences. Just start to get your ideas down on paper, stream of consciousness style. Don’t look at your notes, or reference other content about the topic. You may find yourself coming up with new ideas along the way, or find you have a lot to say about a specific topic area that can become the focus of the post.
5. Build Off an Outline
Organizing all your notes and ideas into a rough outline is critical. For one, it’s much less pressure than forming full sentences – at the bare minimum, you need main subheadings, bullet points, and links to reference. Then, you can take those bullets and start to transform them into full concepts once you have the post structure laid out.
Plus, you can pick and choose which sections to write first. Don’t be a hero: Start with the section you’re most comfortable with so you can get into a nice groove of writing.
6. Find Your Time to Write
Early-ish mornings before the day really starts (aka before emails start coming in) with a cup of tea is my ideal time to write.
One of my coworkers prefers 9 p.m. with Bachelor in Paradise on in the background. Find your time and run with it.
7. Block Off Time
Unfortunately, your writing doesn’t get done unless you actually write. So, once you’ve found that sweet spot where you’re most productive, set aside ample time for yourself to get it done. That means blocking off time to dedicate to writing, whether it be a few hours in the morning or part of the evening.
8. Remove Distractions
Get rid of any distractions, except the ones that help you write. Putting on a mind-numbing TV show (See: Bachelor in Paradise above) or music (I prefer lyricless) might help the words flow easier. Hearing a ping every time you receive an email or text probably doesn’t.
9. Give Yourself a Deadline
Whether you were assigned a deadline or have to set one for yourself, a little pressure can be the jumpstart you need to get writing. If you have a deadline a month out (and like to wait until the very last second to write l do) set a more immediate date for yourself to ensure you have plenty of time to review before it’s submitted.
10. Crowdsource Ideas
Writer’s block can happen at any time, even when you’re still brainstorming topics or only starting to flesh out your main talking points. If you find yourself stuck in the concept ideation phase, don’t hesitate to crowdsource.
Reach out to coworkers and run your topic by them; see what they think and if they have any ideas to contribute to your piece. Twitter can be a great sounding board for topic ideas as well. Not only will you feel more confident moving forward with your topic, but you may also come away from these conversations with some new perspective and content to include.
11. Use Tools to Your Advantage
Though they won’t cure your block, there are so many content tools out there that help the writing process along. Here are a few of my favorites to try:
- Buzzsumo: For brainstorming content ideas
- SEMRush: For creating a template & optimizing content
- Coschedule Headline Analyzer: For refining the title
- Passive Voice Detector: For staying in active voice
Good news, we’ve written a whole post about this – here are several more free content tools to try!
Writer’s block, although frustrating, is totally curable. All it takes is willpower and some of these tips to get out of your head, get out of the rut, and get the words flowing.
What are your best tips for beating writer’s block? We’d love to hear your ideas — reach out to us on Twitter!