Ten ways to beat writer's block
Even the best of writers experience writer's block from time to time when they cannot think of anything to write - or they ditch what they have written believing it to be 'rubbish'.
- Find the root of the problem — lack of information, bored with the subject, no new ideas and lost confidence through over criticism are just some of the common causes — you need to establish yours before you can start to tackle it
- Stop trying to write the piece that's troubling you and write something else — even if it's only an email to a friend moaning about not being able to write!
- Keep a writing diary and learn from it — note what happened in the lead up to the good days, when the words seem to tumble out by themselves, and the bad days, when everything was a struggle
- Imagine you're talking to a friend or relative and tell them (out loud if you're alone or don't mind being seen talking to yourself in public) what the piece is about — use your own natural spoken words — do not try to 'sound good'
- Force yourself to write something (anything) every day — it's the habit of writing, not the quality, that's important — the quality will come afterwards in the editing process
- Recognise the difference between drafting and editing — the first draft is not supposed to be good — think of it as the brain dump only
- Come at the story/brochure/email/web page/briefing document from a different angle — stop trying to write it from the client's/organisation's/hero's point of view and write it from the customer/employee/villain's point of view
- Ask lots and lots of questions — don't settle for the answers to 'who, what, where and when' — the most interesting stuff comes from asking 'why' and 'how' — for most business communications you need to know "why would my readers be interested in this?"
- Use fairytales or read 'The Seven Basic Plots: Why We Tell Stories' by Christopher Booker to see if what you're writing about can be adapted to incorporate the theme or storyline of one of the classic plots
- Give yourself a break — it is the clichÃƒÂ©d answer but that's because it works — trying too hard or beating yourself up inhibits creativity so give yourself permission not to write — do something different, ideally something mind-numbingly dull, and let the subconscious take over — only be careful not to let this become a habit or you'll then be dealing with procrastination instead!
© Lorraine Forrest-Turner forrest-turner.co.uk