By: Alicia Beard, Digital Diva, WildRock PR & Marketing
It happens to all of us at some point or another, we’re trying to write and instead we get stuck. Whether it’s when we first open the blank Word document or part way through a page, even professionals experience writer’s block or can feel like they’re in molasses while working through a writing piece.
Having worked for a number of years as a reporter before moving into public relations and marketing, I know what’s it’s like to meet daily deadlines. Writer’s block or not, the paper must go out and I had to meet deadlines. I learned real fast how to get past “stuck” and those lessons have carried through in my work today.
With that, I offer some simple suggestions that hopefully will carry you through any moments of bewilderment or agonizing blank stares at your computer screen.
1) Know the purpose behind the piece you’re writing and jot that down at the top of the page. For this blog it would be: writer’s block.
2) You know you need an intro, body text and conclusion, so break up your page into those three areas. See – there’s already some letters.
3) Next, begin to add ideas under those three areas, making an outline with your phrases and thoughts. What’s key here is to not edit or filter your thoughts, just let your mind brainstorm and run free for a moment without judgment. For this piece it would look like this:
- Everyone struggles with writer’s block at some point
- Used to be a reporter and write on deadline
- Offer suggestions
- Create an outline by writing down your main idea as well as the words intro, body text and conclusion
- Brainstorm phrases and ideas for each of the three areas
- Begin filling in body text by creating sentences
- Go back and create sentences in the intro and conclusion
- Don’t be afraid to Google an idea or look up a word in a thesaurus for inspiration
- Stop and take a break when you get frustrated
- Read out loud when you’re ready to edit
- Happens to everyone so don’t sweat it
- Remember to slow down and start with an outline
4) Once you’ve established an outline, however sparse or choppy, start fleshing out your body text with sentences. Usually what slows people down is the intro text and not knowing where or how to begin, so don’t worry about that yet. Another thing that immobilizes writers is thinking they need to have polished sentences the first go round. Not true. When it comes to your first draft, don’t over think it, write first and edit later.
5) After you’ve gotten a solid start on the body text, circle back to the intro and conclusion and fill in sentences there. Having already written the body text, you should have some pretty good direction of where to start and end.
6) If you reach that moment of what’s next, don’t be afraid to take a quick break and Google an idea or trend or even look a word up in the dictionary or thesaurus. Sometimes just thinking about something else for a moment can spur the next idea or provide the inspiration you need to keep going.
7) When you’re at your wits end, take a break. Actually, my top recommendation is to take a walk, even if it’s just a circle around your parking lot or driveway. Sometimes a change of scenery and fresh air is all you need to get the creative juices flowing again.
8) When you’ve gotten the piece to a good point and need to switch gears to edit, print it out and read it aloud. This will help you catch errors and correct any flow issues or awkward sentences.
At the end of the day, some form of writer’s block happens to even the most seasoned of writers, so don’t sweat it. Even if you sit down to write a piece and have no idea what you’re going to say, relax and know that it will come. Just start with an outline and then let the stream of consciousness flow. Like the saying goes, how do you eat an elephant? One bite, or one word in this case, at a time.