You’re staring at a blank document, a blank email, a blank page. You’re out of ideas—or maybe, you think, they were never there to begin with. There’s a panic rising in your chest. You know you have to write, and soon, but the words won’t come.
This is what we in the biz like to call Writer’s Block, and no one is immune. (dun dun duuuuuuhhhhn)
Thankfully, there are ways to work around this inconvenience. I offer you the following:
Find your fuel
I like to think of myself as a well-tuned, word-spewing machine. And every machine needs something to run on. Whether it’s coffee, Red Bull, or fun size (re: king size) Snickers bars, get the goods you need and settle in.
Write wired, edit when you crash
A slightly edited, more work appropriate version of “Write drunk, edit sober,”* my solution is often to get everything down while your mind is racing—whether this happens to be first thing in the morning or 1AM—then edit during your afternoon slump.
* Often attributed to Earnest Hemingway, but can be more reliably traced to novelist Peter De Vries. Consider the updated version by author Julien Smith instead: “Get as blitzed as you can, then hang out with your friends…the next morning, that’s your content.” Gold.
Whether you find yourself drawn to Reddit, Vimeo, design blogs or yes, even Pinterest, allow yourself a short break to browse and take in all you can. Find images or ideas that inspire you, and let that inspiration filter into your writing. To avoid losing track of time, just set a timer for 15 minutes or so. Then get back to work, slacker!
Buy some books
No breakthrough insight here. I just like a reason to buy more books.
Take Buzzfeed quizzes
It may not actually help but at least now you’ll know what your odds of surviving the Hunger Games are (mine are low—the knife wielding skills could use some work).
Switch up your medium
Pen and paper are the obvious choice, but there are other ways to get your creative juices flowing. Begin writing in an email draft instead of Word. Switch fonts, make them bigger or smaller. Chisel words into your office’s exposed brick.
Get out of your comfort zone
One year our Creative Director bought us magazine subscriptions, just to get us to see something new. (I received Inked—he knew me well). So watch a new show. Visit a local museum. Go see a movie you would never have chosen, and tell everyone it’s “for work.” Absorb everything.
Start in the middle
Beginning with a title, a headline, or a first sentence is daunting. Start writing in the middle, and before you know it, the title will write itself.
Or, start at the beginning
Read the first assignment you ever completed, or the first blog post you ever wrote. Remember how much you sucked. Look at how much you don’t suck now!
Now, go write something worth reading!**
**This post is not necessarily intended to be an example