Overcoming Writer’s Block at a Moment’s Notice

writer's block

Let’s get meta. I literally asked my team what I should write about for this blog post and Stephanie Siano, an esteemed account coordinator on our tech/B2B team, said I should write about how to overcome writer’s block. Ha ha. Well, after three aborted attempts at writing something else, I decided to take her advice and write about overcoming writer’s block while actually overcoming writer’s block. Let’s see where we end up. 

Filling in the “blink” —  A former colleague called it “blinking cursor syndrome,” when you’re faced with a blank page of vast nothingness and you feel the pressure to come up with something – anything – and that cursor just mockingly blinks at you in perfect 2/4 time. One way to get around this is to literally fill the page up with something else, just to fill the void. Ideally, you can use an older version of whatever it is you are writing to give you a visual guide. (For instance, I’m currently using an older blog post I wrote for SHIFT as temporary filler.) If you’re going to go that route, make the older text a different color (like red), so you can make sure that any placeholder text isn’t accidentally left in.

Write the damn thing – Once of the biggest contributing factors in writer’s block (speaking at least for myself, but I’ve been witness to it as well) is that you feel the need to hit it out of the park your first time at bat. So you spend hours trying to think of a lead sentence in vain. Honestly, one thing that helps me is just writing whatever ideas and sentences come to mind just to get it onto the page, then I worry about the order.  In the spirit of full transparency, I wrote the “filling in the ‘blink’” paragraph first and then circled around to the anecdote I included in the lead. Sometime the forward momentum is enough to help move an idea along.

Put it away and then come back – Again, let me be perfectly honest. I know I wanted three tips in this blog post as it’s a nice tidy sum and only having two tips feels unfinished. However, I couldn’t think of the third. So, I took a scheduled call with my manager to discuss a new business opportunity and while I was distracted with something else, this tip came to mind. If you’re truly stuck and can’t move forward with the piece, try to focus on something else to reset your mind. Now, if you’re running perilously close to deadline, this may or may not be an option, but even taking a few minutes away from the page could prove fruitful.

Okay, so now we’ve arrived at the end, which I actually wrote just after the lead, so hopefully I included a second and third tip above. Writer’s block is tough, but not insurmountable. Just like a working out, take it one step at a time, find the methods that work for you and try to get out of your own head.

Justin Finnegan
Senior Account Manager

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Posted on June 14, 2016 in Writing

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