Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Have Writer's Block? Try These Six Tips

When it comes to writer's block (or blog block, as I've been experiencing for the last couple days) sometimes all it takes is time. But sometimes a break from writing -- and perhaps the creative process in general -- just isn't enough. In times like these, a few tried-and-true tips may be just what you need to get over the hump. Here are some of my favourites:

1. Think of writing as a regular job, and less as an art. This one comes from Stephen King's On Writing, a hugely influential book over the years as I've tried to hone my craft. To paraphrase King: If we think of ourselves as laborers, as craftsmen, it’s easier to sit down and write. We’re just putting words on the page, after all, one beside another, as a bricklayer puts down bricks.

2. Follow a writing schedule. This tip goes hand in hand with the preceding one. If you set aside time to write -- even if what you churn out isn't perfect or polished -- you're already ahead of the game. After all, words on a page are always better than staring at a blank screen. And words on a page are also better than writer's block.

3. Brainstorm. Another pearl of wisdom, and a skill we all probably learned back in junior school. When I am struggling to write, I often take five minutes to jot down anything and everything that comes to mind. And then, with a fresh sheet of paper, I take the time to focus these thoughts by trying to come up with words that succinctly articulate these ideas.

4. Use a thesaurus. As a writer, my thesaurus is my dearest companion. Especially when I put tip #3 into practice. I use a thesaurus almost daily. I like to think of it as my secret (although now, perhaps not-so-secret) weapon. It can also be a useful tool to beating writers block. Just open a thesaurus to any page, pick a word, and write, non-stop for three minutes, about that word.

5. Set deadlines, and stick to them. Easier said than done, I know, but deadlines are key to helping you work to your potential. At Marketing Breakthroughs, deadlines come up quickly -- a blessing in disguise, as it keeps us writer's at the top of our game. We don't have time for writers block!

6. Multitask. This may seem counterintuitive, but working on something else -- even another writing project -- can go a long way to overcoming writers block.