I don’t believe in writer’s block. I do believe that sometimes your mind, fingers and assignments are not aligned – and the single most important thing to do….is not to push it. When you try to force it, you get resistance. And it hurts. If you follow what feels right, what’s working, (pardon me) where the flow is – it will lead you back around to the place where you were struggling.
Let me put it this way: it’s mud-season, you turn on your car and the tires just spin. What will happen if you keep trying? The wheels will spin deeper and deeper and you will get increasingly more stuck. BUT, if you add some sand, chains or rocks, turn the wheels in a completely different direction or better yet, go do something else until the mud dries to dirt – THEN, you will make progress and you will be able to move your car.
Here’s how I handle myself (and my work) when it just ain’t workin’:
1. I work on a different project. I find one that feels really good. For instance, writing this blog is something I love, so if I’m having a hard time with a client’s project, I’ll write tomorrow’s post (in fact, I’m doing this right now!!!). Once I shift my energy, produce something I like and feel accomplished, turning back to that original project is easy and all good.
2. I eat lunch. Have you ever looked up to discover that it’s 3:00 and you haven’t had a thing to eat or drink since 7am? I’m not suggesting that you eat every time you can’t think of a good word (that would be enabling a serious case of compulsive eating)…but our brains need food and drink to function. Make sure you’re taking care of your physical self.
3. Ahhh, the web. Web surfing is a brilliant ‘un-blocker’…I stumble upon (so that’s where they got it!) all kinds of great nuggets that inform current projects, future marketing strategies and general professional development. Also, if I’m supposed to be writing an article about marionettes, but I just can’t think of anything to say, I look at other sites. No, not to copy them – to springboard from them. As good as the web is, it can be very, very bad. Sometimes I find terrible websites about my topic which make me exclaim, “I can do better than that!” And then I do. I call it WPK (Web Pants Kicking) and I need some every once in a while.
4. The clock. Occasionally, I find myself unable to write even the simplest email. Confused by this predicament last week, I glanced at the clock and discovered that it was 6:30 and I had been working like a dog for too long…so I went home, and when I arrived the next morning, the assignment just flew out of my head.
5. Make a call. Contact someone who specializes in the field you’re writing about and interview them or just chat about what’s happening with their work…of course, this is a great way to use your clients or an outside expert – carefully consider which is most appropriate.
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I don’t really believe in writer’s block either. It’s usually just a temporary traffic jam.
When I can’t find the words, I take a shower, a walk or a drive (although the latter is getting expensive). I find my mind opens up and the ideas flow to the surface. Sometimes my brain gets overloaded and I need to take a step back to allow the ideas to find their way to me.
Some days it just flows from my fingertips into the keyboard. Other days, it takes a bit of work, but if you’re having problems, try one of these techniques. It really works for me.
Sometimes that first sentence is the hardest part!