There are numerous tricks one can use to overcome writer’s block. Below are a few that I’ve used on a regular basis.
1. Just Write
The easiest one, of course, is to just write.
Write stream of consciousness psychobabble
Write bad writing.
Write shitty first sentences and shitty first drafts.
Let it come out the wrong end.
Create for the trash can.
Eventually, you’ll find that garbage will turn into gold. Sometimes this will happen during a writing session. Other times it will take a couple of days. But you’ll overcome writer’s block. No crystals, candles or any other hokey new age bullshit needed.
2. Start with a Quote
If creating for the trash can doesn’t cut it, start with someone else’s words. One of the things I learned from reading Shawn Achor’s book The Happiness Advantage is that that your brain makes progress towards a goal based on how close it thinks you are to that goal. When I’m really stuck I’ll go to my Kindle highlights or find an underlined passage in one of the books I’m reading and use that as my starting point. By starting with someone else’s words you trick your brain into thinking it’s made progress towards the word count you’re trying to hit.
3. Read a Book
I always read before I write. Some of my best writing has been inspired by something I read.
- Write a response, opinion or reaction to what you’ve just read.
- Build on the idea that you’ve just read.
You’ll be amazed at how many ideas you’ll have for things to write about if you simply read before you write.
4. Do Some Other Sort of Creative Activity
In a recent article on the 99u website, I wrote about the power of creative cross training. The basic idea is to work on something outside of your primary domain. I recently purchased a Wacom table, and as you’ll see below I’m working on a 30-day project in which I”m drawing characters from various cartoons.
5. Don’t Break the Chain
Remember that your cumulative output is far more important than any individual piece of writing or writing day. Download this free Don’t break the chain calendar. Set your goal (i.e. 1000 words a day). Then try to go as long as you can without breaking the chain.
If you’re showing up every single day you can afford to have multiple bad days in a row because you’ll more than makeup for it on the good days.
I’m the host and founder of The Unmistakable Creative Podcast. Every Sunday we share the most unmistakable parts of the internet that we have discovered in The Sunday Quiver. Receive our next issue by signing up here