Writer’s Block: 5 Ways to Write Anyway

Writer's Block: 5 Ways to Write Anyway

A student asked about writer’s block. I’m tempted to say that there’s no such thing, but writers do burn out. If that happens, you’ll eventually get back on track, much wiser for the experience.

Let’s assume that your block isn’t burnout. You’ve simply lost your writer’s mojo. Here are five ways to get it back.

1. Get Input: Learn Something, or Do Something

You write, write, write… and then you stop. You have nothing to say. This happens to bloggers. It’s easy to feel that you’ve said all you have to say on a subject. You just don’t want to think about the topic again.

You need input. Learn something new. It doesn’t matter much what that something is. Anything you’re learning will kick your brain cells awake.

If you’re writing fiction, at some stage (for me it’s page 100), you’ll hit the wall. You decide your plot is ridiculous, your characters are worthless cardboard and you’d rather be dead. Break out the champagne, and have a few celebratory sips. When you hit the wall, salvation is on the other side of it. Take three days off. Refuse to think about your fiction.

Take yourself off somewhere on a short break. You’ll come back revitalized. Your subconscious works hard. It will deliver a solution, and your block will be just a memory.

2. Describe Your Pen

You don’t want to write, so you don’t. Grab a pen, or a pencil, and study it. Then describe it, in as much detail as you can. What material is it made of? Color? When did you buy it? Keep writing.

I’ve no idea why this simple description process breaks through blocks, but it does. It’s probably because after a few minutes of battering your brain about a stupid pen, any other topic sounds good to you.

3. Write a Letter (You Don’t Need to Send It)

Occasionally you’re blocked because of what you’re not saying. If you’re annoyed at someone or something, write a letter. Release your anger, or fear, or whatever it is. The letter’s just for you. Delete the computer file, or rip up the paper when you’re done.

4. Start Something New

You have things you need to write: sales material, your blog, emails… All these “musts” can dry up your creativity. Start something new. It doesn’t matter what it is.

5. Rewrite Something Old

If you’re stuck on a project, and can’t face it, here’s how to get going on it again. Rewrite it — that is, retype it.

I started writing back in the days of typewriters. I’m a horrible typist, so my typescripts always looked ridiculous, with smudges of Tipp-Ex all over the paper. I needed to retype pages often. Here’s the thing. Once you start retyping, your brain gets into the act. You’ll find yourself rewriting, and getting interested in the material. Then, just like magic, you’re writing again, and your block is gone.

Try these methods of breaking through your writer’s block. One will work for you, and you’ll be happily writing again.

If writing is challenging…

The Easy-Write Process will help. Write anytime, about anything. You’ll become a confident writer.

, on Twitter: @angee, and find Angela on Pinterest, too.

Get coaching, and build your skills at Angela’s online store.

Writing Journal 63: How to Be a Better Writer

Writing Journal 63: How to be a Better Writer

My writing journal for Tuesday, October 14, 2014. You can find all the writing journal entries here.

Another busy day today ahead. Lots to do, including a couple of meetings this afternoon. AND I need to work on my new website. To add to the mayhem, I received a “help!” message from a regular client. He needs some copywriting done in a hurry.

As always, I start the day writing fiction. I managed to complete a couple of scenes on the mystery novel, for 2,800 words. Lots of “junk” in there — working things out on the page.

Let’s talk about thinking on the page for a moment.

Think on the page: it helps you to become a better writer

I’m always telling my writing students: “you’re a BETTER writer than you think you are; and — you’re over-thinking this.” Then I advise them to think on the page, because not only will they get started writing and keep going, they’ll also get fresh inspiration.

Big tip: inspiration happens while you’re writing.

So, in ALL my writing, whether I’m writing an advertising spiel, a blog post, or a novel, I think on the page. This means that I end up with lots of what I call “junk”. It’s the equivalent of paper notes which you ball up and toss over your shoulder when you’re done.

I include the junk in the first draft — before anyone else sees the material — because I’ve found that thoughts lead to inspirations. Many times I’ve been stymied on a project, and the answer turns out to be in the thinking on the page I did earlier in the draft.

Try thinking on the page as you write. It works.

I’ve scheduled a writing session on the nonfiction books for tonight — that’s left a little room in my schedule.

On to email. I fix Honey’s breakfast, then my own, while getting through our email as quickly as possible.

Next, my walk. We had some storms yesterday, and more are promised for later today. It poured down last night; lots of lightning and thunder. After all the rain, it’s a fine morning, a little chilly. Walking through the park, I noticed that the rain sank right into the ground. It’s been a dry month.

Work on my new website/ blog

Back again, to work on my new website and blog. I doubt that I’ll be able to launch it this week. I’ve lots left to do, and write. Not to worry. It’s done when it’s done.

Then it’s time for my meetings. I’ll have lunch while I’m out.

Back again. It’s later than I hoped it would be, but that can’t be helped. Meetings always seem to run longer than you expect.

I need to get on with my rush copywriting job.

A rush sales page and email messages for my client who’s in crisis

Luckily, it’s straightforward. The client wants a sale page, as well as a couple of emails to send out to his list.

By the time I’ve completed a draft of all the material for his review, it’s very late. I send it off with a sigh of relief.

Before I forget, I need to add my meetings’ notes to Evernote, and schedule some tasks which eventuated. Both meetings were about holiday sales. Everyone will be busy from now, until after the sales wind down in the middle of January.

Great. :-) I loved being busy.

So, time for my daily review. I’ll be working on the nonfiction books tonight.

, and on Twitter: @angee.

You can find Angela on Pinterest, and on YouTube, too.

Writing Journal 48: Become a Better Writer Via Your Kindle

Writing Journal 48: Become a Better Writer Via Your Kindle

My writing journal for Monday, September 29, 2014. You can find all the writing journal entries here.

Happy days. The novella has gone off to the contract editor. She’s fast, so it should be back by the end of the week. As you may know, this is the final in the series of novellas; I’m glad to be done with them. I’m very much like that: when I get close to the end of a piece of writing, I want to see it out the door.

Some months back, a client commissioned me to write a mystery for him. However, in addition to writing the mystery, he wants it to be the first of a series. So, I need to create a sleuth, a character who’ll carry through several books. Luckily, I don’t need to start the novel immediately. My deadline is mid-December, and I’ve given myself this week to think about mystery sleuths.

I’d love to do a humorous animal mystery series, like The Cat Who… but I’d need to be inspired. I don’t think I can plot it cold-bloodedly, but we’ll see.

This morning, I just made some notes; and did a couple of cluster diagrams, to start thinking and planning. By the way, if you’ve been thinking about getting Authentic Writing, as I know several writers have, check out this week’s offering.

Honey’s breakfast, and my own. Email’s light this morning, which is a good thing. I’m almost caught up with it.

Next, it’s time to get on with the book proposal. I’ve heard back from the client, who’s pleased with the way it’s going.

I finished up a blog post too, and hit the Publish button — 5 Ways to Become a Better Writer. To get better at writing, you basically just have to do it. The more writing becomes a habit, the easier it becomes. With my writing students, I know that as long as I can convince them just TO WRITE, most of their challenges will become much, much easier to conquer.

Let Kindle help you to become a better writer

Before 2012, I’d visit the library at least a couple of times a week, and haul home a stack of books. Then I started to read ebooks via the Kindle app on my iPad. I already owned a couple of Kindle devices, but they annoyed me because I’m a fast reader. I adore the Kindle app on the iPad — and on my phone, when I’m out — because I can ZOOM through books.

I started to check whether any book I wanted to read had a Kindle version, and if it did, I bought it. Here’s why: you can highlight any text you like, and it shows up on your Kindle highlights page.

You can visit your highlights page at any time, and think about WHY something affected you. I used to copy quotations from books onto index cards, The cards got stored in files, and I’d never be able to find what I wanted.

If you’re unaware that you have a Kindle highlights page, check it out, it’s very useful; it will help you to become a better writer.

Lunchtime… Today I ended up having lunch at my computer, while reading a couple of student novellas. Apropos of that, I’ve had some questions about editing.

Yes, I offer developmental suggestions, but no line editing

I’ve had a couple of questions about my author services, specifically about fiction editing. I do developmental editing, but I don’t do line editing. Put another way: I’ll help you with your story, but I won’t proofread for you. Big picture stuff, yes. Grammar and word choice, no. If you’re unsure whether I can help, please ask. :-)

After lunch, I worked up a couple of project quotes for clients, and had a chat with the client for whom I’m writing the company history.

Next, I had to do some research for another client. He’s thinking of going into a new market, and wants a rundown of the market and its challenges. I enjoy research, so the time got away from me.

Before I knew it, it was time to return phone calls, and do my daily review, and word counts.

Tonight, I’ll need to spend a couple of hours on the Kindle ebook I’m writing for a client, so I can keep to the deadline on that.

, and on Twitter: @angee.

You can find Angela on Pinterest, and on YouTube, too.

5 Ways to Become a Better Writer

5 Ways to Become a Better Writer

Everyone wants to become a better writer today. No, not “a writer”. A better writer, because no matter who you are, these days, your life involves writing. You may not like it. You may struggle against it, but today business is 24-hour, non-stop, and global. You need to communicate often, and do it well. Preferably, without slamming your head against your desk, and wishing you were dead.

Let’s look at five ways you can become a better writer.

1. Keep it Short

Keep writing short

 

Steve Jobs was a genius. He knew good writing, and how to write. He kept it short.

You don’t need to confine yourself to one-word answers in your email messages, as Steve did in in the message here, but it couldn’t hurt.

Here are two words which will improve your writing TODAY: say it. Just say what you have to say. Don’t circle around the topic. Don’t waffle. Don’t try to “write.” Say what you mean to say, straight out, no messing.

 

2. Do It More

write more

I love “10 steps to becoming a better writer,” by Brian Clark.

Writing takes practice. That’s why professional writers write every day: they know that writing is a muscle. They know that when they take time off from writing, they lose their facility with words. The more you do anything, the better you get at it.

To repeat: the more you do anything, the better you get at it. Your writing is always the best you can do, at the time. Your writing will be better tomorrow, and even better next year. Write.

 

3. Get Interested: Passion Shows in Your Words

You can feel energy, or the lack of it, in words. So, to write well, you need to become interested in your topic. “Interest” is active, rather than passive. I’ve written well about concrete rebar, mulching, and pathology tests. (By “well” I mean that the words did what they were supposed to do – they sold products.)

Whenever you’re tempted to say: “this is boring”: learn more. The more you know about something, the more interesting it becomes… and you’ll become a better writer.

You can write about anything with passion. Find out more about your topic, and you’ll become passionate about it.

4. Be True to Your Values and Beliefs

You need to be able to think: “so what?” when someone criticizes what you write. Not in any passive-aggressive, or defensive fashion, but because you know you can do it again, and do it better, if you need to.

You may not need to, because part of your acceptance of criticism is knowing your values and beliefs, and being true to them. You calmly consider the source of the criticism, and take that into account.

If you’re an author, take note of reviews, but never, ever respond. Remember: “so what?” If you’re not capable of insouciance: don’t read reviews. Lose the attitude that you’re always right. You may not be, but it doesn’t make you a lesser writer, or indeed a lesser person.

5. Read, read, read. Write, write, write.

Good writers are readers. They read books. You become a better writer by reading good writing, and bad writing too.

Stephen King:

“If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time (or the tools) to write. Simple as that.”

So there you have it. Five ways to become a better writer. As Woody Allen famously said:

“Eighty percent of success is showing up.”

Show up. Write.

And if you’re ready to SHINE, start today. Get coaching. Or, join our final Team Up session for the year; it ends soon.

, and on Twitter: @angee.

You can find Angela on Pinterest, and on YouTube, too.