Sometimes writing is HARD!
It doesn’t matter what you’re trying to write, there are times when the words just won’t come. Trying to write anything when your brain is mush can be an incredibly frustrating exercise.
When writing is a hobby, a pastime, something you do “just for fun”, that’s not such a big problem… you can simply walk away, disengage, and come back to your writing when you feel a bit more productive.
But when you write for a living… when you have clients, and deadlines and bills and all those other things a professional writer has to worry about… then you have to persevere and get on with it.
So how do writers cope with the challenges of producing, day in, day out? What do you do to overcome the dreaded spectre of writers’ block?
Here are a few of the things I find useful to get the prose flowing again.
1. Write something completely different
If I’m genuinely getting nowhere with a particular writing project, and its obvious that will-power and plain old fashioned hard graft alone aren’t going to get me past the wall, I tend to turn to something completely different. This is where having a blog (or three :-)) comes in very handy.
Focusing on something completely different in a short, concentrated burst can kick start the writing process, helping the words to flow. Often (… but not always :-()when I turn my attention back to the original project, that flow continues.
2. Tweet yourself productive (…no, seriously)
Micro Blogging services like Twitter are often dismissed as a frivolous time-sink, but as a writer I find the constraints of expressing an idea in 140 characters or less curiously liberating.
It forces you to strip away the clutter and focus on the message.
Believe it or not, I find posting to twitter can actually help to lubricate the mental cogs that make my writing work… when I go back to whatever I was working on I often find the seemingly insurmountable obstacles I was battling with has evaporated.
3. Read something inspirational
We all have our favourite blogs, web sites, books, magazines, newspapers… whatever. Choose something by a writer who inspires you — someone whose writing you admire and respect. It doesn’t matter whether it’s something in your feed reader, on a blog, in a print publication or a book, as long as its written by someone you find inspiring.
Try not to analyse and deconstruct the prose (it’s an occupational hazards of writing that I actively try to avoid, but invariably slip into occasionally), just immerse yourself in the written word.
More often than not when you return to your own writing everything seems to come together much more easily.
4. Listen to/watch something relevant
There’s an awful lot of rubbish on media sharing sites and podcast portals, but there’s also a tonne of really useful and interesting content. Taking a short break from your writing project to listen to or watch a podcast related to the topic you’re writing about can help focus your mind, and give you new ideas and inspiration for your writing. Just make sure you limit yourself to one or two items… or you’ll be amazed how quickly your day will disappear!
What do you do?
Those are just a few of the things that help me to get over the occasional hurdles that plague every writer. How about you? What tools and techniques do you use to get over the dreaded writers’ block? Let us know in the comments.