Writing is a fickle thing. Even when you love to do it, you often feel like you have to do it. When you’re inspired and motivated, you can’t type fast enough. But when you hit that writer’s block or have distractions pulling you in different directions, you can waste a ridiculous amount of time just staring at a blank screen.
If you write for a living, that problem can be a really big problem. And not just because you really do have to write. The bigger problem is that if you’re writing for a living, you’ve almost certainly obtained your dream job and you just want to keep it that way!
So the next time you need to overcome writer’s block or are seriously backed up on your writing obligations, try out some these strategies:
Add Variety to Your Workload
As they say, variety is the spice of life. But in some cases, variety is more like protein. It’s an absolute necessity.
Adding variety to your writing is crucial because it gives your brain a break, but still works your “writing muscles.” It’s like football players doing yoga or runners swimming laps. It may slightly vary from your expertise, but it still ups your game.
This strategy works for me almost everytime. If I’m stuck on something I need to write for my blog, I switch to writing something for a freelance client. If I can’t focus on my freelance work, I work on an article for Hubpages. And if I truly just can’t write, I will create graphics or edit photos on PicMonkey to create Zazzle or RedBubble products (if you’re in need of fun money-making, creative hobby, you need to give this a try!).
If you’re exclusively a writer, I highly recommend trying out these variations of writing:
- Start a Blog. If you’re a writer and don’t have your own blog yet, you’re crazy! A blog is an amazing way to practice writing, get your material viewed, and flex those writing muscles. For a seriously detailed post on how to start a blog, head here → How to Start a Money-Making Blog
- Find Freelance Work. You don’t have to be a full-time freelance writer to find freelance work. In the years that I’ve been freelance writing, I’ve had weeks where I write for 40 hours and weeks where I write for 2. I have clients that ask for 500 words every other week and others that only need a one-and-done project. My point is that freelance writing can fit into anyone’s schedule and it WILL benefit you (beyond the pay). When you’re writing for someone else, you need to follow their guidelines, their topic choices, and follow any other requests they have. This may sound awful, but the reality is that you learn so much and you’re still completely in control of your time. If you’re nervous about how to get started with freelance writing, this post can help walk you through the steps of getting your first job → How to Get Your First Freelance Writing Job
- Write on Third-Party Sites. I have been writing on third party sites longer than both freelance writing and blogging. In fact, it’s how I got my first freelance job and how I knew I’d love blogging in the first place. My favorite platform right now is Hubpages, but there are others out there that provide basically the same thing – a completely free platform where you can write a single article and get paid for ad revenue and Amazon affiliate sales. Money aside, the real reason I love using Hubpages is that you can write about whatever you want. You aren’t limited to a specific niche (like you are if you’re blogging) and you don’t have to follow anyone’s directions (like you do if you’re freelance writing). I can’t say enough good things about this avenue of writing. If you’ve got the time, you need to give it a try! (You can read more about it here → How to Make Money Writing Articles on Hubpages)
- Guest Post. Guest posting on large publication sites is a great option because you aren’t committing to anything long-term. You can write one article and leave it at that! The downside is that many of these sites have strict guidelines and are very competitive. But if your work does get accepted, it’s not just an amazing writing outlet – it’s a huge career booster and an amazing way to get your name out there as a writer.
- Write a Book. I’m willing to bet that for most writers, the ultimate dream is to publish a book. And since self-publishing has become so easy, what used to be a pipedream is now an everyday reality. As far as variety in your writing goes, a book is a great alternative because you can have complete control over your writing and take as long as you want.
- Journaling. No rules, no obligations, no audience, no limits. Journaling is for everyone and it’s a great way to get your creative juices flowing if you’re stuck with writer’s block.
Related post: 5 Ways to Make Money on Zazzle
Have Multiple Drafts Going at Once
This is one of my favorite ways to get past writer’s block and it works almost every time. Once you’ve added variety to your writing portfolio, this becomes a cake walk.
As I said earlier, writing is like exercise. Once you get started, it becomes easier and easier. So if you’re struggling to start the next chapter in your book, try writing for a bit about your dogs. If you can’t get your next blog post going, outline your next freelance piece. If your freelance work is just too dry, write an article that empowers you. Have a few different writing pieces going at the same time so that you can bounce back and forth when you need a change of pace or scenery.
Writing begets writing. So get writing!
Just Start Typing
I know – the whole problem is that you can’t get yourself to start typing!
Often, though, the hold up is that we don’t know how to start. We know the meat of what we want to write, but have not the faintest idea how to get it started.
So forget about the intro and just start typing the middle. Sketch out an outline and write about the section you know the best. Even if you end up deleting or changing half of what you write, this exercise will get you started. And the second draft is almost always better anyway.
Write More Often
I’ve already said it once and I’m probably going to say it again and again – writing begets writing. If you write more often, you’ll have an easier time being productive. So try to carve out more time or find more projects to work on. Writing is an exercise and just like every other exercise in the world, it gets easier the more often you do it.
For some writers, this is a given. For others, it’s easier said than done. When writing is more of a hobby, this is especially hard. Regardless of the position writing holds in your life, you should schedule specific time for it. Ideally, you should write everyday.
For me, there’s no question that writing in the morning is the most productive. However, with two young children mornings can sometimes be out of my control. So I’ve found that naptime is my sweet spot and I will move mountains to try and make sure that my both children sleep at the same time and that I am writing while that’s happening.
So do what you can to find space on your schedule where you can block off time specifically for writing.
Find Sources of Inspiration
If a lack of motivation is the cause of your writer’s block, then finding a source of inspiration may be the cure you’re looking for. Inspiration is key for getting things done, especially for writing.
Inspiration can be hard to come by, so when it does you need to take note of it so that you can go back again and again when you need to. But to get you started, here are the sources of inspiration that work for me just about every time:
- Daily Affirmations (I got hooked on these after reading The Miracle Morning…if you haven’t read that, you need to right now! It’s life-changing.)
- Music – make sure it’s happy and uplifting, or relaxing and peaceful. This isn’t a time for sad songs!
- Pinterest – This is great for ideas, pretty things, and a reminder of your end goal. I spend more time than I should going through the travel section reminding myself that soon that will all be possible.
- Vision board – Again, this inspiration came from The Miracle Morning and mine sits right behind my laptop. They’re easy to make, beautiful, and just what you need to keep working! Here’s some more info if you’re new to vision boards → How to Create an Inspiring & Effective Vision Board
- Pictures – For me, pictures of my kids are all it takes. For you, it could be your pets, significant other, travel destinations, or anything else that makes you smile.
Related post: How The Miracle Morning Will Change Your Life Forever
Not only is reading a great source of inspiration, it’s also working those same writing muscles, but in a different way. You get to see someone else’s writing style, get that change of scenery you need, and get your energy flowing.
I already told you The Miracle Morning needs to work it’s way onto your book list, but here are some other great motivational books to help get you pumped up and writing more:
- The Miracle Morning: The Not-So-Obvious Secret Guaranteed to Transform Your Life
- You are a Badass: How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Start Living an Awesome Life
- The 4 Hour Workweek: Escape 9-5, Live Anywhere, and Join the New Rich
- The Secret
Shut Off Your Phone and Close Other Tabs
Sometimes distractions are the main culprit keeping us from writing.
Turning off your phone (or even just turning it over, honestly) is an obvious one, but all the other tabs that may be open on your computer could also be pulling you from writing. I am NOTORIOUS for this, so it’s one of the first things I have to do when I hit that wall of writer’s block.
Exercise releases endorphins, gives you energy, eliminates restlessness, spurs brainstorming, raises your heart rate, strengthens your core, increases your quality of life, lengthens your life expectancy, keeps your weight in check, suppresses hunger…and helps to overcome writer’s block.
Seriously though, find a form of exercise that you love and do it everyday. My productivity directly correlates to the amount of exercise I get and that’s not an uncommon thing to find.
One of the biggest causes of writer’s block has nothing to do with the actual writing part – we just don’t know what to write about. It may be worth using up some of your writing time just to sit and think about what comes next.
- What blog topics do you want to touch on?
- How is the next chapter in your book going to flow?
- What are the major points you will touch on for your freelance client?
- What problems have plagued you lately that you could write about?
Having a game plan ready when it comes time to write will have a huge impact on your productivity, so don’t underestimate it’s importance.
Writing is truly one of the most fulfilling careers that you can have, so it’s worth working through the down times! Try to keep yourself inspired and take a break if you have to.
Let me know if I missed any tricks that you’ve used to get past writer’s block. Good luck with your writing!