What do you do when you’re responsible for publishing a weekly blog and suddenly discover you have run out of ideas? Week in and week out you pound the keyboard producing what you hope is elegant prose. Then one week you have writer’s block and a blank screen is frustratingly staring back at you.
You know not to panic as even the best writers face a time of dryness when the words stop flowing. You also know it’s not caused by a sudden drop in energy or lack of motivation but the absence of an interesting topic. All of the things you want to write about have been covered in previous posts you have published.
But you can’t throw in the towel as the requirement to crank out another post drives your need to find new content. Seeking inspiration from others, you trawl (unsuccessfully) through the daily business news looking for a theme around which you can impart something of interest to your readers. Then, without notice, it hits you like a ton of bricks - write a blog about writer’s block.
There are occasions when all of us can be lost for words when putting pen to paper or fingers on the keyboard. Without doubt, the most difficult part of writing for many people is actually getting started. Novelist, Ernest Hemingway, said the most frightening thing he ever encountered was “a blank sheet of paper”. I think a modern analogy would be the tormenting blink of a cursor.
Clearly, an empty page or a blank screen can be intimidating, so the trick is to get some words down quickly. Don’t spend too much time searching for the right words or clever turn of phrases to satisfy your inner critic. It is rare that something can be written perfectly the first time. A rough draft can always be polished and improved later.
A technique some writers use - and one I utilised during my business studies - is to start writing at whatever point you like. MBA essays typically begin with an executive summary which most students understandably write AFTER completing their essays. I, however, wrote my summary BEFORE I even started my essay as it gave me an outline and overall sense of direction.
I then wrote the introduction and, believe it or not, a draft conclusion before starting the body of the essay. This essay writing methodology, which any student can use, is not as bizarre as it sounds. It provides a roadmap which stops you veering off in the wrong direction and informs you in advance of your ultimate destination so that you can organise your thoughts accordingly.
While orderly progression in your writing is not essential, having a plan of attack is highly desirable. So, don’t wing it and don’t confuse writer’s block with procrastination. And avoid the mistake of thinking you have to complete one writing project from go to woe before starting another.
I spend most of my professional life writing and communicating and become bored easily if I work exclusively on just one task. So, I work on multiple writing projects at a time (eg, board reports, staff updates, member correspondence, PowerPoint presentations, blog posts, etc) switching back and forth from one writing project to another. This variety keeps my creative juices flowing.
Probably the best advice I’ve come across about crashing through writer’s block is to just start writing. That’s exactly what I did to produce this post - I wrote about the fact that I didn’t know what to write about and the end result is another blog post! In the process, I moved emotionally from initially having a sinking feeling to ultimately feeling a sigh of relief.
At the end of the day, there is no catchall solution to driving output when it’s time to write. But when your creative well is dry and you are feeling uninspired, you just can’t give up. Hopefully, the tips and techniques I have shared here will help you get the words out of your head and onto the page – and that’s gotta be a good start. Happy writing!
Paul J. Thomas
Posted Monday, May 13, 2013 2 Comments Make a comment