Writers. Block. Sucks. Any writer can relate to staring into a blank screen of nothingness or reading a page you just wrote that makes you cringe. If you are having this issue you are not alone. If you want to know how to overcome writer’s block, you’ve come to the right place.
When I got an idea to write my first book I had no clue what I was doing. I was lucky enough to find an amazing book coach, Amanda Johnson of True to Intention, who helped me refine my outline over a weekend. She is a genius at structuring the flow of content and an amazing human in general. And then the dreaded blockage came…for seven months.
The first chapter I wrote was crap. I then I spent seven months attempting and failing to rewrite that one chapter. Uggghhhh gross. Luckily I experimented and stumbled on some techniques that helped me write my first draft in seven hours. Granted after this was done my book was sent off to my editors and some revisions were made. But I went from seven months of diarist constipation (aka writer’s block) to seven hours with a usable first draft. I’m hoping at least one of these tricks works as well for you as it did for me.
Listen to your body clock.
I learned this awesome tip from Tia Ross and Ahmondra McClendon at an author’s retreat led by Amanda Johnson. For months I was trying to write my book during someone else’s ideal schedule it wasn’t working for me. I discovered my most creative time was between 10pm-1:30am. Yeah, I’m the type of person that takes a shower or lays down to go to sleep and my brain goes “Oh hi there…let’s play!!!”.
Timeblock writing sessions with chunks of time that work for you.
I found what worked best for me was 3 to 3.5 hour blocks. I know others that write in 10-30 minute chucks different times throughout the day because they have little ones that they need to take care of and have to write during their naps and after they put them to bed at night. There is no right answer – only what works best for you with your current priorities, personality, and lifestyle.
Your outline is your BFF and is 80% of the work.
Create an outline with bullet points for chapters and then sub-bullet points for main points within each chapter. This seems counterintuitive because the outline isn’t long – but it really is the hardest part. The second hardest part is how to overcome writer’s block.
How to overcome writer’s block.
Plan a time to sit and write and try and remove as many distractions as possible. Like ,put your kids down for a nap. Or if you have to write when everyone else is sleeping. Then no matter what…start writing the entire time you set aside to write. Even if you are stuck and they only thing you can think of is “Uggh I hate this I don’t know what I’m doing”. Write that down and keep writing whatever comes to your head. It will spark ideas and you will be writing content in no time.
Turn each bullet point of your outline into a question.
I did this and then I imagined my reader sitting in front of me asking that question. This simple exercise made it so much easier for the content to flow because I was simply answering a question. If someone was sitting right across from me and asked me a question I had the answer to, I would naturally tell them what I thought. I also love this technique because I prefer a conversational writing style and this helps me with that.
Use a dictation software that will type out what you say.
I used Dragon Software over 10 years ago so I could speak my book and have it typed out. Good news. Technology has evolved over the past 10 years and now you have pretty decent speech to text software on your phone (Google Voice Typing within Google Docs App) and your computer (Mac) for free. In fact, I know of a blogger who writes her posts using dictation on her hour-long commute to work. Genius use of time!!! This is another technique that helps me keep a conversational writing style.
Word vomit on paper with zero edits.
Whether handwriting, typing or using dictation software – just keep writing. Erasers and backspace are not allowed. Editing disrupts your writing flow. And second-guessing yourself while writing only contributes to even more writers block. Don’t worry – you can tidy up and edit your word doc the following day with fresh eyes.
Writing doesn’t need to be complicated.
Listen to your body clock and try and write at your most productive time of day. Everyone’s body clock is different and that’s okay. I’ve finally come to terms with the fact that I’m a night owl.
Create an outline with bullet points for each chapter and sub-bullet points for each main point within your chapter.
Turn each bullet point of your outline into a question your reader would ask you.
Answer the question using a dictation software so you speak your answer and your computer types for you.
And you don’t have to use all the techniques at once. In fact, for this article I did not use my dictation software because I am writing this next to my sleeping husband – I don’t think he would appreciate that. Experiment and see what works best for you, your personality, and your current lifestyle.
Now you know how to overcome writer’s block like a pro. If you have read all the way to this point I know you have a message waiting inside of you. Keep writing – people need your story. You got this!
Did you find this useful? Don’t keep it a secret. I would love it if you would share it with a friend, colleague or loved one. It is the biggest compliment you can give me.