This post is based on episode 83 of the ProBlogger podcast.
This week I want to talk about writer’s block.
Actually, I’ll be talking about it for the next few weeks. It’s such a common problem for bloggers, and it can really mess up your plans of having a successful blog if you don’t learn how to beat it.
Notice that I said “beat it” and not “avoid it” because I’m not sure you can avoid it. Every writer faces it at some point or other, including me. And so over the next few weeks I want to share some tips and help you tackle it from different directions.
A while back I received an email from Sally, who asked:
”Do you have any tips for bloggers with blogger’s block? I really want to take my blog to the next level, but I’m completely stuck. Every time I sit down to write, nothing comes. And the more it happens, the more stressed I get and the less the words seem to flow.”
I could almost feel Sally’s frustration as I read her email because, as I said earlier, writer’s block hits us all at some point. And so ‘d like to talk more about the issue, and how you can get the words flowing again.
You have no idea
Over the years I’ve learned there are different types of writer’s block. And the first step to beating it is to find out what type you’re actually dealing with.
The first type of writer’s block is what I call an ideas impediment. You sit at the keyboard ready to write, but you have no idea what to write about.
I think this is the type of writer’s block Sally was experiencing when she wrote her email. She wants to write, but she’s struggling to come up with ideas on what to write about.
And that struggle can be extremely frustrating.
When you’ve been blogging for a while, coming up with something new to write about can be extremely difficult. You may even reach the point where you’re convinced you’ve written about every topic you could possibly cover in your niche. I’ve been writing about blogging since 2004, and about photography since 2007. So believe me when I say I know how you feel.
(Next week I’ll be talking about various ways to break out of this line of thinking.)
The writing’s not on the wall
The second type of writer’s block I’ve suffered from is hitting the wall, where you have plenty of ideas but can’t get into the rhythm of actually writing content.
And often it happens because you have too many ideas.
This is something I struggled with a lot when I started ProBlogger. I had so many ideas on what I could write about that I couldn’t get into the flow long enough to write about any of them.
It also happened when I tried writing all of my content at night. I know some of you find it the best time to write, but it’s a horrible time for me. I produce much better content in the morning.
Fortunately, in this case the solution was relatively straightforward. I simply reorganized my schedule so I had more time to write in the morning. And depending on when you’re at your most productive, you might be able to beat this type of writer’s block by doing the same.
I also started setting myself deadlines, because I actually work to pretty well when I have one.
Something else I tried that might work for you is to create an environment where you’re not being distracted as much. Rather than use my main computer where I’d be constantly bombarded by Skype and Slack messages, I used my other computer in a café where there wasn’t any internet. And while you may think a café would be the last place you’d go to avoid distractions, I found working there really helped me get into the flow.
Of course, it doesn’t have to be a café. You might find your local library is ideal. You might even find that simply ‘pulling the plug’ on your internet connection where you are does the trick. You may also need to turn your phone off or switch it to silent mode.
(I’ll be talking about this more in the next week or two.)
The final type of writer’s block I want to talk about this week is what I call ‘completion constipation’, where you keep starting new posts but never get around to finishing them.
And I’m embarrassed to admit this is something I’ve also struggled with over the years.
I once logged into ProBlogger’s WordPress dashboard and found 93 draft posts that I’d obviously started but never finished. I also had a notebook full of ideas I wanted to write about, as well as documents on my computer containing bullet points of posts.
I wasn’t having any problems with coming up with ideas, outlines or titles for blog posts, which may seem like an enviable position to be in. But for some reason I was really struggling with seeing any of my idewas through to completion.
Whenever I talk about this I always ask my audience to share how many blog post drafts they have in their WordPress installation. And I’m always amazed at how many people admit they have 50, 100 or even 200 half-written blog posts. The problem seems to be that we all have so many ideas that we’re constantly abandoning what we’re doing and moving onto the next one.
For me, the solution was to dedicate a little more time each week to completing, polishing and publishing all those half-written posts. (I’ll be talking more about this in the next week or two as well.)
What’s stopping you?
Where are you getting stuck? Are you struggling to come up with ideas? Do find it hard to get into the writing flow? Or do you also have a long list of unfinished posts? Let us know in the comments.
And if you have some other suggestions for how to beat writer’s block, please share them.
Photo by Aubrey Rose Odom on Unsplash