5 Ways to Beat Writer's Block from a Former English Major
Being a serial procrastinator and writing major in college are two very conflicting lifestyle choices. The one advantage of having both is that I learned how to seriously crank out some content in a short amount of time, (like 15 pages in
My friends in college knew me as the guy who took procrastinating papers to a very unhealthy degree. For whatever reason, I’ve always been very good at cranking out lots of content in a short amount of time. Some of my best work in college was done two hours before the paper was due.
That said, I learned some tricks along the way to battling through the first push of writing. I use each of these methods almost every time I blog now and it’s revolutionizing my productivity.
1. Prime yourself into a productive mood.
For me, putting myself in a productive headspace is just as much about the shoes I’m wearing as it is the words I’m preparing to write. Very rarely do I write anything worthwhile while sitting at home in my boxers. To prime yourself into a productive mindset, give yourself whatever mental triggers mean “it’s business time” to you. For me that means wearing a shirt with a collar and going to a coffee shop.
2. Don’t read, just write
I know you’ve heard this before, but I’m saying it again. Usually I try not to read the first 200 words of whatever I’m writing until I get past them. On particularly productive days, I don’t look back until I pass 1,000 words. You need to give yourself permission to write crappy content in order for this to work. The next point has more on that.
3. Don’t be afraid to scrap ideas
You know what I love? The ‘Apple N’ command. I honestly scrap around 2 ideas for every one blog post that gets published, (If you don’t like this post—you should see the ones that didn’t make it—sheesh!).
Sometimes it’s a matter of starting down a path that doesn’t have enough juice to it, and other times it’s a matter of not being emotionally or creatively ready to write about a topic you think you have in the bag. If you give yourself permission to perpetually start over, there’s way less pressure to perform. And the result is almost always better content.
4. Coffee (or tea, or beer, or Gatorade)
Once again, this is a mental trigger. I drink coffee almost every time I write. Yes, the caffeine helps, but more than that—it’s a physical representation of a mental state. Coffee signifies that I’m making the writing a priority. Plus I love coffee.
5. Create accountability
This one is huge for blogging. In the last month I’ve posted a new blog post every Tuesday and Thursday morning. I doubt anyone besides me has noticed that schedule, but it’s a way to keep myself from falling into the trap of, “I write when I feel inspired.”
How many books do you think would be written if publishers didn’t give deadlines? According to some of my favorite authors—none of them.