Writer Ken Kesey once said, “I like being a famous writer. Problem is, every once in a while, you have to write something.”If you ask any copywriter at any stage in their career, I’m sure you’ll find that they can relate. No matter how good you are, or good you think you are, there will come a time where writing seems like the most horrific, mind-bending, labour-intensive task on the face of the earth. And the longer you stare at a blank page, desperately trying to spit out that first sentence, the worse your writer’s block gets. Period.
So how do you overcome writer’s block?
1. Stop staring at the blank page! It only makes things worse. You know how when you set the alarm in the morning, you just can’t get your butt out of bed, but on the weekends, you’re up long before that same time – simply because you don’t have to be up? It’s the same with writing. You can’t force creativity. Walk away, take a walk, switch gears and get your mind on something else. Only when you continue on with your day will the magic light bulb suddenly appear over your head. My advice is to keep a pen & paper near by to catch it when it happens.
2. Shake things up! It’s amazing how a change of scene can get your creative juices flowing. If you work at home (as most of us writers do), try moving your office (aka laptop) to another part of the house. Or into the backyard on a warm sunny day. Take your laptop to a coffee shop — Starbucks & Chapters are great for that. You can get your favorite mocha and peruse magazines, books, whatever you like. I often find that reading helps me get into my writing.
3. Don’t panic about the deadline! That’s the hardest one of them all. When you know you have to submit something by the end of the day tomorrow, and you know it’s your own fault for leaving it to the last minute, you start to panic. And when you get into that mindset, you tend to write… well, badly. Sure, you may only have 16 hours to meet your deadline, but that doesn’t mean you have to hammer it out in the next 30 minutes. Take a deep breath. Relax. I mean come on, if you’re a successful writer, chances are you always meet your deadlines in spite of yourself. Remember that when you feel your adrenaline start to boil.
4. Work on something else! Most writers have more than one project on the go. We have the deep, heavy thinking gigs, and the not-so-tricky gigs. Personally, I like to keep some mind-numbing work kicking around, too. I keep a medley of things on my to-do list, so that when I completely blank on one project, I can flip over into something completely different. It helps me feel productive when I’m in a slump””and feeling productive often gets me back on the writing track.See? You’re reading someone else’s work right now (tip #2). Do you feel more creative yet? Getting ideas? Well, at least I took your mind of things for a while. Now get back to work and write something brilliant!