How I deal with writer’s block – five tips for bloggers.

typewriter

It always seems to arrive at the worst time – usually when I’m on deadline and really need to just Get.It.Done.

Whether it’s caused by stress, an unfamiliar topic or lack of inspiration, writer’s block rears its head every once in a while but after nearly 20 years of working for various newspapers, I have a few tricks up my sleeve to help beat it.

Just in case you have a blog post that needs to go live today and you’re suffering from this ailment (and I’ve never met a writer who hasn’t had it at some point), I thought I’d share the top five things that work for me.

I’m assuming you already have a topic (if this is what you’re stuck on, read other blogs, news sites or social media for inspiration) so here is what I do when my words have gone on holiday.

1. Take a break – no, I don’t mean pack my bags and drive off into the sunset but sitting looking at a blank screen isn’t going to help. If I have time, I step away from the computer (but not for too long). I make a cup of hot chocolate or go for a quick walk. While I’m away, I think about what it is I am writing and why I’m stuck. I avoid popping on Facebook or Twitter. This will not help, I repeat, this will not help.

However, if there isn’t time for a break, here are some other things I try.

2. Go old school – that’s right, unleash the pen and paper. For some reason, even though it often means lots of crossing out (and then having to type what I’ve written) the act of putting pen to paper seems to free the words within me. I never write an entire article that way but it gives me the start I need.

3. Begin in the middle – when the block hits, it’s usually the intro I struggle with and I can sit for ages trying to work out how to find that catchy sentence that hooks people. When I don’t have time to waste, I just start anywhere to get the words flowing.

4. Break out the pyramid (or just write a list) – one of the first things I was taught as a journalist was about the inverted pyramid. All of the important stuff (the who, what, why, where and when) needs to be at the top. If I’m stuck I write a list of the main points of my story. This often helps unlock inspiration.

5. Email a friend – Working in a busy office there was always someone to run things by but as a freelancer sitting at home alone usually there is only the neighbourhood cat for company – and he’s no help. Luckily there are writer friends at the end of an email. Sometimes a different perspective is all I need to get moving. 

Thankfully it’s not writer’s block that’s keeping me away from blogging at the moment. I’ve got plenty to say but no time to say it. If anyone has tips for making some extra hours in a day they would be welcome.

What have you found that works for writer’s block?

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15 thoughts on “How I deal with writer’s block – five tips for bloggers.

  1. These are great tips and I will use them when needed! I’ve had writer’s block once since I started my blog in January. I took a few days off from it and then brought a little notebook ( I don’t have a smartphone) with me anywhere I went. Coming home from the grocery store I got a great idea, so I pulled my car over in a rest spot and jotted it down. Since then my notebook lives in my pocketbook for those pop up ideas. Looking at pictures or inspirational posts help me as well and then I put my own spin on it. 😎😉

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    1. Oooh yes, great tip! I always have a notebook (and 500 pens) in my bag. I keep one in the car glove box, just in case too. I’ve never tried looking at pictures, I will add it to my list. Thanks for commenting 🙂

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    1. Thank you. I went freelance after leaving to have a baby. I’m very lucky to still be able to write for my old paper plus some lovely new publications. Check out my work website, http://www.taragreaves.com, if you’re interested. There’s a long “about” page which tells you how it all started. For me work experience during my uni holidays was key.

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  2. Like you I have far too many ideas spinning around in my noggin’ and not enough time to get them all out! 😀 I looked through my blog the other day, and thought ‘oops, metal monthly is a bit sparse’. Think I best rename that section 😀
    I have notebooks all over the house, half filled with ideas, recipes, scribbles and crammed with bits of paper ripped out of papers and magazines. One day I WILL be organised…pfft!

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    1. It’s a bit frustrating, isn’t it? I could try and cram in some blogging but I don’t want it to feel like a task as I normally enjoy it so. It’s all good though 🙂

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  3. Great tips, thanks Tara. Writers block hits frequently at the moment but somehow I get through it. I’m going to try employ your tips more in the hope it passes quicker than it has been!

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