Overcoming writer's block

Deadline time. You have a white paper (or blog post or web copy or novel) to churn out, but you feel less than inspired. You’ve rearranged the Post-it notes, pencil cups, and tchotchkes on your desk. You’ve checked social media…Twice. But no spark of inspiration ignites your brain. The blank page (or screen) taunts you and you start to reevaluate your life choices. You feel anxious, desolate and abandoned by the Muse.

But fear not. Writing consistently is a skill that you can develop, like baking or beer pong. The idea is to get your body and brain into a rhythm that will tell you when it’s time to write. Establishing a routine helps get you in a state of flow conducive to writing. Going through the same procedures every day before writing can be a cognitive cue that says, "Hey brain, let's write!" So, decide what habits get you into your creative zone, whether it's laying out your writing utensils of choice in a row, turning on (or off) the music, or making a cup of coffee or tea. Then do those things every time you want to write. And write.

Even if the writing is not particularly inspired, setting up a causal relationship between the ritual and the writing will help build the pathways in your brain. Think Pavlov’s dog. And while it may be difficult at first, with time, the habit will become part of your natural process and the words will flow. The key is to establish a routine that works for you.

It can also help if you have a dedicated space for writing that you just use for writing so that when you go into that space, your synapses start firing the signals to put pen to paper (or fingertips to keyboard).

Many writers have employed this tactic. Hemingway wrote while standing at his desk in his favorite slippers (before it was de riguer to have a stand-up desk) every day from 6am-noonish. Roald Dahl headed out to his garden shed from 10:30-noon to write with 6 sharpened yellow pencils on yellow legal pads, before he broke for lunch and a nap (and a gin & tonic) then went back at it from again 4-6 p.m. Maya Angelou woke up early, had coffee, then headed off to a little hotel room she used as her writing office and wrote from 7 a.m. until 2 p.m.

So, no more waiting for the Muse to whisper in your ear or that blinding flash of inspiration. Just sharpen your pencils, get in your writing space, repeat your mantra and let the words flow.

Of course, if you have to create content and don’t have enough hours in the day to do it, we can help. We’ve got it down to a science.

by Ben Singleton
Partner / Director of Public Relations