If you are stuck looking at a white Word document and no motivation, then I have some tips for you to try. Since I have been freelance writing for over eight years, I have written over 2,000 (if not more) articles. When your words pay the bills, you don’t have time to mess with writer’s block. Here are my eight tips to help you get out of your writer funk.
1. Change Your Font Up
Silly as it might seem, sometimes if I just modify the size of my font and the color, I can get my workflow going. Of course, you will need to change the font back. I do this same trick if I need to read something, but am feeling tired. I just copy and paste an article or book in my Word document and pump up the volume. It is like an 80-year-old woman lives in my head.
2. Set a Timer
Five minutes. Just five minutes. When I would rather do something else, I force myself to work hard for five minutes. Usually, by the time five minutes is up, I am into my project and can keep working until I finish. If I am still struggling after five minutes of work, I will close my laptop, do something not work-related and try the five-minute trick in an hour.
3. Beat the Schedule
On Mondays and Wednesdays, I have the babysitter and sit at my local Starbucks to work. These are optimal work hours, so I want to use them effectively. I order a green tea and then sit down with either a pen and paper or a new Word document and just type out which task I will do for each 15-minute segments until my time is up. For example, my schedule might look like this:
9:00-9:15- Wisebread 200 words
9:15-9:30- Wisebread 200 words
9:30-9:45-Wisebread 200 words
9:45-10:00-Wisebread 200 words
10:00-10:15- Edit and submit
I schedule something doable every 15 minutes until I hit my leave time. I try to put a 15-minute catch-up window in the schedule too. Then I simply get to work, crossing things off on my schedule as I go. Every time I cross off an item, I will write next to it how many minutes I am behind or ahead of schedule.
4. Create That Signal
Develop a signal that trains your brain that it is time to write. For my Monday and Wednesday workdays, the act of ordering my green tea, writing out my schedule and sitting in that hard Starbucks’ chair automatically shifts my brain to work mode. Tim Castleman, the author of the 2kH Formula, created a writing playlist for himself. He only listens to this playlist as he writes and has trained his brain to shift into work mode faster with this playlist.
5. Use Dictation
It is faster to speak than it is to write, which is why it is nice to use dictation software from time to time. Since I rely on free dictation software, the one built-in to my Mac and the Dragon Naturally Speaking app, I have a love-hate relationship with it. Sometimes the dictation is 90% accurate and other times, I cannot even figure out what I was trying to say when I edit the article later.
Either way, even if I have to edit a good portion of my dictation, it helps break me out of that rut of writer’s block. Monica Leonelle, the author of Dictate Your Book, dictates her books into her phone while she walks around the block. Her book tells about the devices and techniques she uses for the most accurate dictation.
See also: My Hacks for Getting More Done
6. Start in the Middle
I rarely start an article at the beginning anymore. This is because the lead and hook are often the parts that take the most thought. It is much easier to jump into the meat of the article. Don’t get stuck on the first paragraph. Even if you don’t want to jump sections, at least write the first paragraph as quickly as possible and rework it when you are done with the rest of the piece.
7. Make Outlines
Outlines have a bad rap from high school English days. A quick outline is helpful for organizing your ideas and keeping you on track. It doesn’t even have to be complicated. For example, if you were to write an article on the “Best 5 Tips to Get Your Child to Sleep,” your outline might look like this:
B. Good Sleep Starts with Good Nutrition
C. Creating a Bed Time Routine
D. Essential Oils for Better Sleep
E. Massage and Acupressure Techniques
F. Eliminate These Things for Better Sleep
That took me less two minutes to type up, but if I were to write an article on that subject, I would save myself about 30 minutes to an hour on research and writing. Make your road map before you start the car!
8. Make It a Habit
When I first started writing articles for money, it took a lot of motivation to get the words down. I would spend hours looking up writer’s blocks tips, and find general advice like, “Just sit down and write.” Better advice is to train yourself to write daily. Writing is an exercise just like running or swimming. Unfortunately, it doesn’t burn many calories because if it did, I would be a size two by now.
You need to force yourself to write every day until it just becomes another learned habit that you don’t think about. For example, how much thought did you put into brushing your teeth, getting dressed or drinking your coffee this morning? My guess is not much because it has become an automatic habit for you. Once writing becomes an automatic habit for you, it takes less willpower to sit down with your computer and write. You use less brainpower forcing yourself to get work done.
Of course, you are going to have those hard days you have to push through. If you continue with your consistency, you will see results.
People often ask me, “How do you know what to write?” or “How do you write so many words every day?” This is like asking a runner, “How do you run every day?” You just force yourself until you don’t have to push yourself anymore. I have been writing so long that it has just become second nature.
How do you get in your writing flow, especially if you have writer’s block?