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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'.

  1. 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

  2. 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!

  3. 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

  4. 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'

  5. 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

  6. Recognise the difference between drafting and editing — the first draft is not supposed to be good — think of it as the brain dump only

  7. 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

  8. 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?"

  9. 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

  10. Give yourself a break — it is the clichéd 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