Writing can be torture. Most often, big ugly blocks are involved. And here’s how to deal with them.
Ah, writing. That flow of inspiration. That dance of creativity. That harmonious moment of sanctity. Not.
I have been a storyteller since I could think. A writer since I could write. It has been my official profession for over 20 years. And my gift and purpose for 42 years.
But if you looked into my brain, you would find a frustrated, tortured, agonising self-doubting little chamber with a big sign on it reading: ‘Writer’s Block. Enter at your own risk.’
Me and my Block, a winning team.
In fact, at the age of 16, I wrote a play about writer’s block. I struggled with writer’s block when I wrote it. I was planning to enter it into the Philadelphia Young Playwright’s Festival.
And then, a day before the submission deadline, a power outage killed my computer and I lost everything I had struggled to write for the past few months.
I had to start all over again. I re-wrote the darn thing, it came out better than the original, and submitted it by hand just a few minutes before the deadline.
The play was performed in three states. It got me a scholarship to one of the best writing schools in the US. Where I graduated with a double degree in Creative Writing and Writer’s Block Torture.
My guess is you have that same torture chamber in your head, too. Here’s how to deal with it.
1. Make it your official best frienemy.
If I were a superhero, my archenemy would be called: The Block. And he would show up and try to torture me pretty much every moment Sara’s world depended on my words to save it from ruin.
And as you know, with every superhero’s journey, that archenemy is needed to push the heroine into her superpower and carry her to the next level.
I have learned to accept that The Block has always been there. That it will remain there for the rest of my journey.
But I have also learned to embrace the fact that it is there as a service – it pushes me forward, calls on my highest powers, fosters growth and ultimately gets me working my purpose as a unique being in this universe.
If you embrace the Block as a chance to call on your superpowers, you change your mindset from one of struggle to one of empowerment.
Here’s a simple exercise. Change your narrative.
Instead of thinking “I am suffering from writer’s block”, look in the mirror and say this out loud to yourself:
“I am calling on my superpowers to get myself out of a block.”
2. Get a prompt, hush the critics, and just write.
Here are some prompts I like to use:
* Open a book and take the first word that grabs you. Now take that word and start writing all the associations you have with it. It can just be words, or phrases. Or it can be a memory. Go with what happens.
* Go into your Pinterest and do a visual search based on anything from an emotion, to a topic related to your writing task, to an object that makes you feel relaxed. Then start free writing what that image brings out in you.
* Try a writer’s block tool like Plinky to get you going
The only rules are: No more than 10 – 20 minutes; no editing, erasing or crossing out; no judging your writing. The point is to get your flow on.
3. Get a deadline – and turn it into a finish line.
My best work comes out when I hear the clock ticking, when I feel the pressure of the deadline approaching? Why? Because it makes me just do it.
We are our own publishers and bosses. So tap into your deadlines like a boss.
Schedule your writing tasks into your weekly and monthly calendar in blocks. This includes your blog posts, social media posts, your About page, your sales page, your emails. Print your calendar out, every week. Take a photo of it and make it your screen saver.
Make it part of your life – it will give you a creative rhythm and put a nice kind of pressure on you to just Get. It. Done.
4. Schedule in a free-flow day. Every week.
Here’s a tip that works for me: I don’t schedule anything in on my Mondays except two things: a morning meditation to bring on my creative energy for the week and one big fat day-long task that I call ‘Creative Flow’.
Sometimes the day is all about jotting down ideas. Sometimes they wind up becomming a block of blog posts for the week. Sometimes they become a newsletter. And sometimes, they become ideas for my business narrative.
But the idea is, it is guilt free AND frees up my creative flow because I am giving my permission to do whatever the heck I want with it. Works a charm.
I have to be honest, it was not my brainchild but that of my amazing VA, Inge. That piece of advice is golden people, just like she is. No stealing her away from me for too long.
5. You don’t need to go it alone. Go outside instead. Connect to the world.
If ‘The Block’ is really starting to take over, it is time to stop, get out and get inspired. Shut the darn laptop, put on your kickers and go outside. Take a walk, bring a notebook or even take pictures of things that make you feel inspired. Connect to nature for your energy.
So call on your sidekick. A friend, someone in your network, a mentor. Someone who will tell it like it is, or perhaps someone who can butter up your ego. Whoever you need.
Tell them The Block is threatening your world. Run your ideas past them. It is amazing what this can do for you. They’ll remind you of your superpowers. The Block will disintegrate in no time.
Then perhaps it is time to book a Brainstorm or Blockbuster Call with Little Big Mouth.
These 1-2 hour calls, respectively, are there to help you do just that – get through your blocks with the help of a sidekick who is determined to see you work your superpowers.
“Thanks to my 1:1 Blockbuster with Sara, I was finally able to reconcile that link between my experiences as a singer overcoming stage-fright and my work as a personal branding coach.
Discovering that this link lay at the very center of my purpose was a huge breakthrough. I am so pleased with how she helped me put those puzzle pieces together – which resulted in my About page. Thank you so much, Sara!”
Marloes Halmans, www.marloeshalmans.com