As much as we would like to think that our personal creative well is infinite, there are times when writer’s block creeps in and starts to make it to run a little dry. Long-term blogging gigs or bulk content assignments can put you at risk for this type of scenario.
Just like zombiecalypse (or apocalypse) believers have a survival pack ready and accessible for when the end of the world comes, a writer ought to have an emergency pack he can rely on when things go haywire.
We can go the simplistic route and call it writer’s block (although the block is not that simple when it comes to the point). Sometimes, though, it’s not that bad a block. Perhaps you just need a little jumpstart.
That’s where the Writer Emergency Pack can help you.
The Writer Emergency Pack started out as a Kickstarter project by John August, who is a writer himself.
John, a screenwriter, came up with the idea of creating a pack of cards that contain suggestions that gives writers a nudge when they get stuck – whether it’s on a plot point or on characters that don’t connect.
Let’s say the Writer Emergency Pack is kind of a collection of writing prompts – only made more fun.
The Kickstarter project has been funded – quite successfully, too! The original goal was $9,000, and it got more than $150,000 in backing.
Thanks to writers who found the idea brilliant, the pack will be available for purchase soon. If you’re interested in getting one for yourself, visit the official page and sign up to be notified when the Writer Emergency Pack becomes available.
Here’s a question for you: Do you have your own “emergency pack”? Why not tell us about it in the comments?
You might also want to read: When Writer’s Block Hits and Brute Force Just Doesn’t Cut It
You’re probably thinking, “Sure, been there; done that. I didn’t even bother to collect the t-shirt.”
There is a point in every writer’s life when he just doesn’t feel like writing. Whatever the reason may be, it does not matter when you’re that point. You just probably want to do anything but write, but let me give you a little tug – back to earth.
If you’re a writer, you should write even if you don’t feel like it. Of course, there are exceptions, but if you want to be a better writer, then you’ll have to push yourself when these moments come.
Why should you write even if you don’t feel like it? Here you go.
Obvious reason: You need to get paid.
As Homer Simpson would say, “D’oh!” – no article/blog post/whatever you’re working on, no payment. It’s as simple as that.
“The freelance writer is a man who is paid per piece or per word or perhaps.” – Robert Benchley
If you’d rather skip on the “perhaps” part, then fight every cell of your body that’s urging you not to write.
Less obvious reasons
Writing relieves stress.
For some of us, this is just as obvious as the first reason you should write even if you don’t feel like it; but if I had a dollar for every time I wrote even though I didn’t want to…(I’ll leave that to your imagination.)
I don’t know about you, but I don’t really feel happy at the end of the day if I don’t get a good amount of writing done. It’s just the way it is, and even if there are a few hours in the day that I feel sick just thinking of writing, I know that if I let that “sickness” get the better of me, I’ll feel even worse by bedtime.
Looking at it from another perspective, you don’t have to force yourself to write for work if you can spare the time. To ease yourself into work-related writing, why not write something else, something that you will truly enjoy? You can even write about how you don’t feel like writing. How meta is that?
It will make you feel better, though, and pretty soon, you’ll get right back to work.
Writing helps you realize your goals.
Just like I said earlier, you do not have to force yourself to write work-related material. How about taking an hour or so to think about your goals, the things you have been wanting to do – short-term, mid-term, and long-term – and writing them down? You can write why you want to achieve those things, perhaps how you can achieve them, and what a feasible time frame is.
It may not be directly related to making money, but you just might find yourself not feeling averse to writing if you go down this path.
Writing can help you help others.
Another reason to write when you don’t feel like writing is to encourage others. Whether you may realize it or not, there are people who look to you for inspiration, people who look up to you. A simple blog post may help an anonymous reader from the other side of the world. A short email may bring a smile to a friend’s face. A handwritten note may make someone’s day. You never know what your writing can do.
So you don’t feel like writing today? Sure, take a few minutes to do something else, but get back on track and keep on writing. It’ll make you feel better.
We’ve read more than enough articles and quotes about that thing called writer’s block and how to overcome it. But what if you’re experiencing is not a “simple” case of the block? What if, maybe without realizing it, you’re in a rut, the reason for which is deeper than you might know?
Of course, if it’s depression – more than a case of the blues – then it’s a whole different story. You will probably need professional help to sort that out.
If, however, it’s just the blues, or whatever you want to call it, and it’s interfering with your work, how do you get out of that funk?
I realize that we all have different ways of dealing with things, but here are some things I’ve found to be effective in getting me back on track.
Talk to someone.
A real person, preferably face to face. I say real person and not yourself or your
imaginary best buddy. I don’t want to generalize, but I think work at home writers tend to be solitary people and don’t get to interact face to face with others enough.
I’m probably the epitome of this stereotype, and while I usually have to force myself to talk to someone, I find that it does help. Now, actually making myself do it is something else.
Write, but about something that is totally NOT for work.
This is something I don’t do often as well, but I would love to have more time to do so. I’ve tried journaling but I’m so erratic when it comes to this. I have a personal blog, and that serves as my mental and emotional playground when I’m in a rut. I write about whatever is bothering me, or whatever is making me happy at the moment – it doesn’t matter what. Writing is indeed cathartic and if it doesn’t come with the pressure that work brings, it’s even better.
Get off your bum!
Yes, I am preaching to myself. You probably know by now that going out, for me, is a rarity. Still, I cannot lie and say that it doesn’t help me get my mood up. It doesn’t even have to be a “work outside thing”.
I find that a quick trip to the supermarket is therapeutic. Taking a short walk – 30 minutes tops – also helps. Endorphins and all that. Going window shopping also helps sometimes, if that helps. Actually buying something you want (and can afford) works even more!
These are the three things that almost always gets me out of a rut. Sometimes, though, nothing but a good, long sleep will do.
What are your proven pickmeuppers? Share them in the comments. Maybe we can learn from each other!
I’ve always been one of those who believe in brute force when it comes to handling writer’s block.
Just sit down and write.
Just do it.
You have to chase motivation/inspiration with a club.
I like those motivational quotes that tell you to just plod along and get it over with, and most of the time, it does work for me.
There are times, though, when no matter how much brute force I apply, I just can’t get anything done – not even a single cohesive sentence.
I think that I wouldn’t be wrong in assuming that this happens to you as well. After all, writers do get burnt out, and it probably happens more than we think.
So, when this happens to you, when brute force can’t cut that block into thousands of tiny, insignificant pieces, what do you do?
These past few months have been a struggle for me on all fronts. I didn’t really realize the full extent of the struggle until very recently, but I know realize that those “useless moments” were byproducts.
Here are three things that I have turned to when brute force doesn’t work for me. While they do not help me to get work done directly, at the end of the day, I find myself being more productive once I get past the block.
Do something else.
This is counterintuitive if you, like me, believe in ramming into that wall of uselessness/depression/uncreativity/whatever you want to call it. Still, I’ve found that doing something else helps clear my mind.
Lately, I’ve turned to cleaning the house whenever I feel off, and it works! I also get a nice, shiny floor as a bonus.
Take time to reflect and determine what could be causing the block.
This is not easy, especially if you’re the type who just likes burying yourself in work and not deal with issues. The thing is, issues won’t really go away unless you face them. So if you’re being unproductive, maybe it’s time to take some time to figure out if something’s bothering you – and to determine what that is.
The process may be painful, or irritating at the very least, but it will result in you getting back in the writing groove.
Ask for help.
Digging deep to resolve your issues may be difficult, but I think asking for help is even more difficult. Sometimes, however, it is the best way to move forward. Whether you reach out to a friend, your partner, or a therapist, it doesn’t matter. The point is that you get an outsider’s perspective, and that can give you a better outlook.
I’m not saying these will definitely work for you, but if you’ve tried other things to no avail, maybe it’s time to try something else?
I’d also love to hear what you guys do when things get so bad you just can’t force yourself to produce something decent. Looking forward to hearing from you in the comments!
Writing is a unique career choice. There can be many peaks and valleys in terms of levels of creativity, work flow, and the number of projects that you are working on. This is why it is important to take advantage of productive times. This helps to mitigate the impact of the lulls in your productivity and the times when it is seemingly impossible to put a sentence together. There is nothing more frustrating than staring at the computer screen and trying piece a sentence together when you just can’t seem to find the right words.
Consistency, Focus, and Creative Flow
A common thing that most writers are always looking to achieve is consistency: consistency in their level of production, creativity, and the ability to maintain a high standard in terms of the quality of writing they provide for their clients. But, when you get busy with client projects, have to worry about when to pick up the kids from soccer practice, and everything else that is part of your daily life, it is easy for your mind to be preoccupied with other things. This makes it extremely difficult to focus on the task at hand – writing. While some writers find that they are at their best in the morning, and others have a particular coffee shop that tends to get their creative juices flowing, I have personally found that meditation has helped me clear my mind and think more creatively when working on writing projects.
Writing and Creativity are Interconnected
Writing and creativity go hand in hand. When your mind is full of busy thoughts it can be hard to create high quality content, let alone string together more than a few cohesive sentences. When your mind is cluttered with other thoughts, it is hard to focus and keep your creativity dialed in. This is why it is important for you to calm your mind and eliminate the background noise and thoughts that interrupt your creative flow. All writers want to avoid writers block at all costs. But, on occasion it happens to the best of us. I use meditation as a tool to do this. Okay, I know what you are thinking – “I don’t know how to meditate”. The truth is that meditation is actually really easy. All you have to do is:
- Find a quiet spot
- Close your eyes
- Focus on your breathing
Take a series of deep breaths and slowing as you let your breath out. This will provide you with a calming effect. It is okay if your mind takes your thoughts someone else. Just refocus and continue to concentrate on your breathing. Do this for 5 minutes per day to start. You may find that 5 minutes is all that you need. How long you meditate depends on how quickly you will be able to calm your mind. There is no wrong way to do this, so don’t worry about if you are doing it correctly or not. Just focus on your breathing and calming down your mind. I personally find that if I am having trouble concentrating at any point during the day, I do a 5-minute meditation session. This usually calms my mind and helps me focus on the task at hand.
How Does Meditation Improve my Writing?
Being able to calm your mind and eliminate the thoughts that are constantly running through your mind will help you be a more focused writer. I have seen a significant increase in both my focus and level of production since I started using meditation. Meditation will help you:
- Have greater focus
- Be more efficient
- Be more creative
- Be more present
- Think critically and solve problems more easily
- More clearly put your thoughts into writing
- Experience fewer cases of writers block
- Communicate your thoughts more clearly
- Uncover new insights
- Make more detailed connections between concepts
Meditation will make you a better writer. Give it try! You won’t be disappointed. Nolan Wilson is a freelance writer who specializes in content marketing, blogging, and SEO. He helps companies develop high quality content marketing campaigns for their internet properties. He Has a Master’s Degree in Library & Information Science. Connect with him on Google + and LinkedIn.
The lead (lede). It’s an essential part of an article. It’s the hook that brings readers in, it’s the flag that sets the tone for the rest of the article. A reader’s road map…I could go on and on.
There’s nothing more frustrating than doing the research, conducting the interviews, gathering your cup of joe and sitting down to that blank page with a blinking cursor. An article’s lead is important – which is why it is often the hardest part of the article for writers to write.
So what do you do when you’re stuck?
Reread your notes.
There’s gold in them there notes! Go through your notes and research and pay attention to things that jump out at you – statistics, quotes, anecdotes, etc. A lead is supposed to set the tone and tell readers where the article is going. Find a point and build the article around it.
Create an outline.
Sounds old-school, I know, but many writers like to let the article flow organically from their brains through their fingertips and out onto the screen. Well, when your lede has a Kung-Fu grip on your organic process, its time to structure a way out of the roadblock. Outlines go a long way in helping writers organize their ideas and find their main point.
Revisit your angle.
There are times when an article takes a different turn than expected and writers will find themselves trying to fit a round article into a square editorial angle. If it doesn’t work, don’t force it. Revisit the angle with your editor and explain what works and what doesn’t. Be sure to have a viable, alternative angle prepared for the discussion.
Do more research.
Lack of a lede can indicate a lack of information to present – which means you have to go back into the research phase. Hopefully you haven’t left the article until the last minute! Sometimes writers can get away with holes in their articles, but when the hole is in the lead…Yeah, not good.
Take a break.
The blinking cursor, the blank screen – they are just big ole bullies. They sit there expectantly, waiting on you to do something… So, skip out on the pressure and take a break. Take a walk, eat a snack, open a window, or play some music. Do whatever you need to do to recharge your brain. Writing is a creative process, but it’s also a lot of work. Make sure you are giving yourself enough opportunities to reboost!
What do you do when you’re stuck on a lede? Tell us below!
by Deb Ng
Here’s a fun way to battle writer’s block: Writers Remedy is a bunch of magnetic words in a jar. Simply take out some words, pop ’em up on the fridge and mix and match until you come up with some ideas. There are 300 words in the jar, enough to nudge you back to the task at hand.
The jar retails for about $15 at the Magnetic Poetry website.