Three Simple Ways to Beat Writer’s Block

by Craig McBreen · 14 comments · Blogging, Content Marketing


Writers BlockWhat’s the biggest challenge you face each day?

If you’re like me, it’s the creative practice. Creating art in some form.

We’ve all had those days where we stall. We lack motivation because we’re exhausted, deadline stressed, or burnt from routine.

This malaise comes in a variety of forms, but the result is the same – our creativity suffers.

A gloom soaked dagger, piercing your creative heart.

I call this the Creative Succubus.

And guess what? If you’re writing on the old web log, you are a creative soul fighting the daily war of art.

We all fight the beast …

The blogging accountant, busting a hump to find customers online.

The aspiring writer, artfully promoting her latest book.

A budding entrepreneur writing like a savage to sell his amazing new product.

And in that war we face the soul-draining Succubus.

She’s ugly, mean and unrelenting. And sometimes there really is an art to fighting this battle.

Beating the suck the creative energy right out of you feeling.

So, how do you take charge of your day and tell this energy vampire to piss off?

1. Embrace the timer.

Enter the stopwatch. It comes in many forms, but it’s simple, easy to implement, and effective.

Online stopwatch, egg timer, the clock on your smart phone. It doesn’t matter, because they’ll all make you a better writer.

First thing every morning I set my timer for one hour and write.

Some days are great, others, not so stellar. But if you put in the time, you’ll find your groove. The days where writing flows will mix with days of struggle … but in the end they add up to you becoming prolific at your art.

And a habit of soldiering on each day, no matter what, is the best way to wage this war.

2. Write before you do anything else.

Take on your most creative tasks when you have creative energy. For me, this is the morning. So before I read emails, go on Twitter or look at my ugly project list, I write.

Some days it’s directly from my editorial calendar; some, repurposing a post; others, simply sitting down and writing whatever comes to mind. There really is no trick to it, it’s just good old fashioned, nose the the grindstone work.

But do not let other stuff get in the way. If your editorial calendar is not calling you, sit down in front of your screen and start typing … you might be smitten with the results of this fun habit.

This cumulative effort will help you win the war.

3. Stop.

Like anything else, writing can become a time suck, so learn to stop.

Why? Unless you make a living writing, you have other things to do. And if you’re like me, writing isn’t paying the bills.

But more importantly … when you stop at your daily apex, just when you’re feeling it, you’ll come back with renewed vigor the next day. It sounds counterintuitive but learning to stop is one sound strategy when trying to kill the Succubus.

When I’m struggling, I love it when I hear those chirping crickets on my iPhone, reminding me it’s time to stop pounding the keyboard.

When it’s flowing like Niagara, the chirping kind of chills my buzz, but I realize it’s all good in the end.

The lesson?

The creative path is steep, twisting, and often torturous, and that is why Steven Pressfield calls it a War of Art.

But creativity in the form of writing has power. And a consistent writing habit will get you places.

Think about it …

As you write, you learn; more about your business, the details of your craft, how to sell, how to produce, how to market online, etc.

You’re artfully learning. And as you go, you are building the creative muscles necessary to crush the beast.

This is the way. Sitting down and doing, every day. It won’t be art every day. BUT if you push forth without fail, you start building a foundation that might just change your life or dramatically grow your business.

I don’t care if your selling Flemish harps or consulting services, if you’re marketing yourself online, you are indeed producing art in the form of words.

So get busy writing, K?

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{ 14 comments… read them below or add one }

Josh January 16, 2014 at 5:46 pm

You can make a couple of bucks selling Flemish harps, but only the White kind called Flander Fiddles.
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Craig McBreen January 16, 2014 at 10:03 pm

Now you have me thinking about a fiddler from flanders who plays harp and desperately tries to market white tulip vases online.

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Mary Stephenson January 16, 2014 at 5:50 pm

Hi Craig

If we do stuff on the creative level for fun it becomes a mixed bag of emotions. When we have to do things for a living we are forced to create even if all we are doing is pushing papers aka a Job.

I knew this guy he was super talented he could have a played baseball for a living he was that good, he also had no problem getting a perfect game for bowling. He was also good looking (model type) and he could play piano brilliantly. But he would not pursue a career in anything he was really good at and his reason was “I like doing those things and the moment they become a job, it will take the fun out of it.” I get his point but how many of us would have liked to make a living doing something that would be fun.

So I suppose that is the problem with committing to something we are not making a living of off. But the other side of this is if we did commit maybe we could!

Mary
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Craig McBreen January 16, 2014 at 10:07 pm

Hi Mary,

Well, I would say to him: At least your job would be way more enjoyable that 90 percent of the population ;)

To me it’s all a mix. Nothing is going to be fun all the time and without discipline – even if your work is thoroughly enjoyable – you’ll get nowhere fast.

If I only had baseball skills when I was a kid ;)

Thanks, Mary.

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Jeevan Jacob John January 18, 2014 at 2:56 pm

I think I am gonna have nightmares now……soul draining monster, creative succumbus ;)

Anyways, well, I have had my share of problems with writing and writer’s block.

(So, I had planned earlier). A month before I launched my new blog (so, in Dec), I started a new exercise – let’s call it the idea exercise, because I haven’t named it yet :D

The goal is to come up with 2 ideas per day.

They don’t have to be good ideas…or bad ideas.

Just ideas.

Because every blog post begins with an idea, right? :D

So, yeah. 2 ideas.

One for blog post, and one for my list (newsletter ideas).

It’s not a perfect exercise though. I have skipped the exercise a couple of times..but I find it a rewarding experience.

The best thing is that even if it is a bad idea, I can mold it and perhaps convert it into a good idea.

As for your routine, writing early does sound awesome (but I can’t really try that..since I am busy with getting ready for college – plus, I already have a morning routine with meditation, brain exercises and so forth :D).

But, thank you for sharing this, Craig :)

Perhaps I can try this next semester ;)
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Craig McBreen January 19, 2014 at 7:36 pm

Hi Jeevan,

Sorry about that ;)

I like what you’re doing and I do something similar … writing down a variety of ideas every morning too, even crazy, far-out stuff. New business ideas, blog topics, products, you name it, the crazier the better. Anyway, it sounds like you have it nailed.

Writing early works for me, but for some it might be midnight.

Thanks for stopping in!

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Jeevan Jacob John January 20, 2014 at 1:52 pm

No problem…I think it’s great to have some nightmares. Life would be boring..if we didn’t, right? ;)

Yes, indeed :D

I just write the blog posts when I have the mood…but, I have limited it to just weekends (and I have to manage it..along with my studies. Can’t spend too much time thinking about blog posts. Either finish the blog post and do the HW…or finish the HW and write the blog post).

No mention!

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Craig McBreen January 20, 2014 at 8:32 pm

The fact that you simply fit it all in is something to be proud of.

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Maxwell Ivey January 24, 2014 at 3:46 pm

Hello; Thanks for sharing your methods with us. I tend to have success by first finding an idea and then kicking it around in my own mind. I will often even write whole sentences or paragraphs in my head before sitting down to the keyboard. lol, i almost said typewriter. I do the same with my videos. I write down a few ideas but mostly i run through it in my head before pressing record. and i guess i will have to rethink one thing. I usually just keep writing until the blog post is finished. Thanks again and take care, max
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Craig McBreen January 24, 2014 at 5:52 pm

Hi Max,

You’re welcome, Sir! Appreciate you stopping in. Sounds like a great way to flesh out some thoughts to me. I know I sound like I follow a strict outline, but oftentimes I just write and it flows … those are the days when I don’t do much research, or thinking beforehand. I just sit down and write. Fun!

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Maxwell Ivey January 24, 2014 at 6:35 pm

yes, life is great when you can get in that zone where the words and phrasing seem to write themselves and the posts roll out of your mind or off of your tongue with ease. I wish you more of those unconscious moments. thanks, max
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Craig McBreen February 3, 2014 at 9:04 pm

Back at ya, Max :)

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Davina K. Brewer February 4, 2014 at 9:10 am

“writing isn’t paying the bills.” That’s it and when you get right down to it, that IS what I do all day, write. I do need to try the timer thing Craig – to stop and let go this ridiculous quest for great or epic or perfect, learn to ‘settle’ for done and published. I write posts in my head all the time but as quickly as they come alas, they go.. so I do need to learn to stop and get thyself to a keyboard asap.

But the real problem isn’t content or ideas; I could write about the fun stuff I like all day long. It’s ideas and writing that’ll get read, that’ll pay the bills (i.e. make the rounds and get me a job, a client). I’ve fallen off the ‘blog regularly’ wagon so many times, got the bruises to show it. One day sir, some day. :-) FWIW.
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Craig McBreen February 5, 2014 at 5:31 am

Hi Davina,

Yeppo. And trust me, the timer helps. I really like to free form write approx 1,000 words in one day … let it sit and come back to edit the next. (I currently have 20+ unfinished posts though ;))

Well, it can be a struggle finding that kind of groove … I’d say making it fun AND valuable is the golden ticket. Just keep jumping back on that wagon :) Thanks for the visit.

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