Ever since I quit my sales job and focused full-time on being an author and running my internet businesses, the game has changed when it comes to efficient writing.
Before I never worried how to get rid of writer’s block because I never faced it. I was writing with a day job so I had less time to write and set lower expectations to do the best I could. Ironically this small window to write and lower expectations increased my writing output as I had urgency each time I worked.
Now I wake up and my job each and every day is to write. I write one to two hours each day drafting my new book (book number three). During the workweek I publish four to five articles that are each around 1,000 to 2,500 words. I send emails to my subscribers. It’s a lot of writing.
But now that I have all this time on my schedule dedicated to writing, I’m more vulnerable to fall into the trap of being a perfectionist and struggling with writer’s block.
And now that my income and future depend on my writing, if I get writer’s block then it’s a huge deal and I’d probably go insane if it dragged on.
Luckily because of this pressure I’ve learned how to stop staring at a blank screen with drool on my mouth.
Here are my 10 best tips for defeating writer’s block:
1. Read before you write.
Reading to become a better writer is one thing, but it also works for productivity. I don’t know exactly where I got this tip, but I learned to read at least 15 minutes before every writing session and it’s increased my output tenfold. Reading other people’s writing translates to new writing ideas for myself.
For example, say I liked reading a blog post that began with a story and then used parts of the story to share tactical steps to accomplish something. Instead of me going into tactical steps to accomplish something from the start, I’ll begin my piece with a story and use it in the same manner.
And I found this method works when reading all different types of genres. So don’t limit yourself to only reading the same genre. Reading a non-fiction biography can inspire your science fiction thriller, and vice versa. (But you’ll benefit the most by reading the best books on writing.)
2. Move to a change of scenery.
Writing in a different location is known to cure writer’s block. If I’m writing upstairs and struggling, I’ll take my laptop to the basement and give it a shot there. If this doesn’t work, then I’ll drive to a local library or coffee shop and start writing.
The changes in atmosphere, weather, and background noise often do the trick to help your mind express itself through typing. This tip is even better if you know where you do your best writing and you relocate there.
3. Exercise or do physical activity.
When your brain isn’t clicking, sometimes the best thing you can do is to engage in hard physical activity. Go for a run, lift weights, or do yard work and sweat out your writer’s block. Studies show that working immediately after exercise improves problem solving and attention.
And another positive benefit is that although your conscious mind has stopped thinking about writing, your subconscious is working on it in the back of your mind. Always be thankful for and don’t underestimate your problem-solving subconscious. Exercising allows you to come back to the computer happy, energized, and refreshed with better ideas.
4. Get in a writing routine.
Are you going to write during the day or at night? Decide a specific time in advance and then lock it in. Then you can program your brain to write every single time the clock hits 7 am, for example.
Use the fact that humans are creatures of habit to your advantage. If you continue to write at this time, soon your brain won’t think about writing at your set time—it will just do it. And this habit will be such a part of your life that it would be hard to change it if you tried. It becomes almost automatic.
5. Outline your writing.
It’s nerve-wracking to try writing on a blank page. But if you outline your writing, your brain gets to focus on following the blueprint instead of overthinking in creation mode.
There’s no doubt in my mind that having an outline in place is the best solution for productive and efficient writing. (I detail the importance of outlining in this article: How To Write A Book.)
If you’re writing a book, start by creating a table of contents with chapter titles. If you’re writing a blog post—here’s why you should blog as an author—organize it into the introduction, supporting sections, and conclusion.
Outlining will save you so much time and frustration it’s unbelievable. And when the foundation is set, it’s also easier to complete tip #6 below.
6. Don’t start in order, fill in the blanks.
If you have a rock solid introduction that immediately flows out of you, then by all means start from the top. But the fact you’re reading this and have writer’s block probably means you don’t have that all-star introduction. When the introduction isn’t cooperating, I find it helps to start anywhere I can.
For example, if I already know what the conclusion is going to be then that’s exactly what I write. And then I work backwards from there. But this is what happens most often: I don’t know the introduction or the conclusion, so I pick my way around the middle until one sections leads to another. (Honestly, I started this post by writing this step first.)
The same is true when I’m drafting my books. Never have I started from the top and went through my table of contents in order. It’s a puzzle where I fit pieces together wherever I can as I go.
7. Write anything that comes to mind.
Think of something random—your dog, your significant other, the color of the wall, your celebrity crush—and just starting writing about them. Let loose and don’t stop writing to fix grammar or spelling.
Since writing leads to more writing, the idea is you force your writer’s block out of you by doing it. And then once the ball is moving you can transition to writing about the task at hand. Maybe you wasted some time writing garbage before you got to the treasure. But this is a better solution that sitting there for 45 minutes paralyzed in your own mind.
8. Write from experience.
When you write from experience, you already have all the information you need. For example, I used to feel that my book Freedom Money shared too many similarities with other personal finance books. This personal experience led me to write a post about when there’s already a book on the same subject.
Another example is sure you don’t know all the reasons the economy crashed in 2008-2009. But you do know your experience going through it, how you felt, and why you felt that way. So you have all that in your head, ready to put on the page.
Even if you feel nothing, write about how and why you don’t feel any emotion in the moment. What makes blogs and books unique is the personal touch of the author.
9. Sleep on it
If you try all of this and you still aren’t typing, there’s one last idea that works well: go to sleep and let your mind and body recharge so it’s ready to rock in the morning. Or if you’re slumping during the day, take a short nap and see if that does the trick.
I mentioned the subconscious helping you before, and it works the same way when you sleep on your writer’s block problem. Just don’t go days without writing with the idea that you need to sleep on it more, because then you’ll enable yourself to get nothing done.
10. Give yourself permission to be imperfect.
This isn’t a tactic as much as it’s a mindset: believe in yourself and have confidence because your writing doesn’t have to be perfect. Writing isn’t a math problem where there’s only one solution and everything else is incorrect. Writing is a means of expression.
Of course you want your writing to be clear and powerful, but there’s no such thing as perfect writing. It’s a matter of opinion.
As one of my college English professors said, you could find the best article of all-time and give it to 10 different newspaper editors and they would tear it apart with revisions. Hearing that truly helped me learn how to get rid of writer’s block.
So give yourself permission to make the most of what you know. And you’ll get better as you go. But if you don’t ever write again because you’re too much of a perfectionist, you won’t progress and your dreams will fade away.
Why do you feel you get the writer’s block bug? If you’re experienced with this, how do you overcome writer’s block? Feel free to comment below.