Ah, writer’s block. When you write for a living, you inevitably come across what I like to call the Curse of the Empty Word Document. Unfortunately for some of us, we aren’t getting paid to nibble on our nails and mindlessly scroll through our Instagram feed, so what are we to do?
Here’s a few of my favourite ways to power through the gloom and end up with something half decent:
- Write anyways. You know that old cliche “The biggest journey begins with a single step.” or something along those lines? The same goes for writing. Often the most difficult thing is opening Word and clicking New Document.
- Write badly. Sometimes even bad writing will spark your creativity and give you some great ideas! At the very least, it’ll give you something more than a blank slate to iterate and improve on when you come back to it.
- Do some freestyle. Similar to the above, if you’re working on something you’re really feeling ‘blah’ about, try some creative writing, journaling, or blogging. This might give you the creative spark you need to get your hands dirty on the more mundane stuff.
- Start with an outline. Do you know what you want to write about? If you don’t, you should probably go back to the drawing board. If you do, great! Write out an outline of all the main points you want to hit, and then build them out into sentences and paragraphs. Before you know it, voila, you have a draft!
- Spend 10-15 minutes a day writing something you really don’t want to work on. This is actually something I like doing at work, because often times, I find that I’m finished the damned thing before I know it, and had actually spent 90% of my time on it simply thinking about working on it.
- Take a break. If you’ve been powering through your work all day and are stumbling on a certain thing, take some time to refresh. Hit the gym, go for a walk, grab a coffee or snack – something to temporarily take your mind off work so you can return to it with a fresh perspective.
- Try some liquid inspiration. “Write drunk, edit sober.” “In wine lies truth.” “Alcohol loosens the tongue.” A lot of great authors of our day can agree that these do have a point: a glass of wine (or more!) can be a creative goldmine! Just relegate this to the evening hours – getting trashed at work is something HR typically frowns upon.
- Reward yourself upon a piece of writing well done (or sort of well done)! This will give you some extra inspiration to finish the job.
Remember, as with most things in life, the only acceptable answer to “But, I don’t wanna!” is to find a way to do it anyways. And before you know it, that thing you’re unable to bring yourself to write will have magically written itself out before your very eyes! Just like this blog post I was putting off all week.
Now, where’s that wine?