How often have you sat down to write and felt inundated by your own mind?
Negative thoughts show up, rearing their ugly heads, saying you can’t write, you don’t have original ideas, no one will read what you write, you shouldn’t even try.
You start to doubt yourself. You think maybe you should go clean the kitchen instead because that needs to happen anyways. Maybe you should rearrange your record collection or take the dog for another walk or paint your front door or spend an hour finding the perfect birthday card for a friend.
Or, you open up a new document and instead of the words that flowed through your mind not ten minutes ago, you find your mind blank as the page in front of you.
It feels like there’s nothing in there, no story dying to get on the page, no words ready to stream out of your fingertips to create this incredible story you dreamt up.
So instead you check your email, waiting for inspiration to call again. You get distracted by a new writing blogger, then read their ebook on creating strong characters. You check Twitter and see what your favorite authors are up to. You end up reading for hours and not writing a single word.
These are typical cases of getting in your own way.
Don’t worry. It’s completely normal to encounter blocks in your writing. Today, we’re going to throw those blocks to the curb and get you writing, right now.
React to Inspiration Instantly
Been hit with a great idea? Don’t wait until you’ve mulled it over a few times to actually write it down. Pull out that notebook you keep with you wherever you go and write down whatever it was that popped into your head. Let the words flow out of you, and ask yourself questions about what you’re imagining. Write the possible answers to those questions down too.
Just because you write something down doesn’t mean it’s set in stone. You can always go back and change it, edit it, or delete it. Just get it out of your head first so you have the chance to change it, edit it, or delete it.
Don’t Think Too Hard
A writer’s greatest asset and worst enemy is their own brain. When you sit down to write, give your head a strict talking to. Say it out loud if you have to! Tell your brain:
What I write today is pure imagination. It’s ideas, and visions, and dreams, and can be changed and influenced in the future. Today is for writing only. Today brain, you get to check out to a sandy beach and let my imagination do the heavy lifting. Don’t worry about editing, fixing, proper grammar or spelling, or what others will think.
Imagination, let’s get to work.
It sounds kooky, but like mantras, prayers, or songs, the simple act of saying something out loud can make us feel better simply by putting it out into the air.
Don’t Edit When You’re Feeling Blue
If you catch yourself editing away at an idea that you think is the worst thing ever written in the history of the world, then take a break. There’s no need to beat up yourself or your writing when your negative Nancy’s are filling up your brain with mental trash. Take a walk, listen to a motivating song or podcast, and let yourself get in a better frame of mind.
Then come back to your work. If you still think it’s the worst thing ever, give it a few edits and leave it be until tomorrow.
When In Doubt, Free Write
Set a timer for 5, 10, 20 minutes. Start it and write as much and as fast as you can until the timer goes off. No stopping, pausing, thinking, or dwelling on sentence structure, word use, or proper grammar.
Even if you have to write “I literally don’t know what I’m writing” over and over, just do it.
You’ll be surprised with what you come up with. And in a pinch, you’ll at least have written something that day.
If All Else Fails, Read
Pick up your favorite book and read a chapter or two. You don’t even have to start at the beginning. Just read your favorite section, one that inspires you and motivates you.
As an exercise (and something that will never see the light of day), try to write a scene that mirrors a section from your favorite book. Use this to study how the author portrays emotion, action, and prose.
See? Not too hard right? Get writing past the blocks with these tips and let me know what you do when you find it hard to write!