If you are a writer, you know that sometimes you just find yourself putting things off. The longer you go between your last piece and the next, the more difficult it can be to open up a blank file and get cracking. This has happened to me numerous times, and it can be frustrating. You know that once you start, it won’t be that bad. It’s the getting started that is the hard part.
With that in mind, I’ve put together some ways that I’ve overcome this writer’s block/procrastination/whatever you want to call it in the past and present (and likely in the future). If you’ve been overthinking the process of writing and just want to get down to it, these ideas may help.
The Small Steps Approach
What you’ll need: something portable to take notes in (a notebook, your phone, whatever works)
We’re always thinking about something. Whether you’re riding the bus or walking down the street, sitting idly in a park or waiting in line at a cafe, your brain is probably bouncing around numerous ideas. If you’re a writer, you’re probably actively thinking about what to write, what around you could act as inspiration, and how to transform some of these ideas into words on a page (or on a screen).
The problem is that your memory is likely to betray you. I guarantee you’ve thought of ideas in the past with the intention to write them down once you got home. What happened when you finally found yourself in front of your laptop? Did you even remember you had an idea to write down in the first place?
The lesson here is not to trust your memory. Always have a means to record these passing thoughts — they often turn out to be some of the best ideas. I tend to write notes on my phone, as I’m terrible at remembering to have a notebook handy, and that seems to work (it worked for this post!). Don’t let those ideas drift off and find a home with someone else — grab them and hold onto them while you have the chance.
The Write What You Feel Approach
What you’ll need: to cut through the poetic junk and just be honest
A lot of us write with fluidity, maintaining a particular voice, and finding the perfect combination of words in mind. Give yourself a break and just write what’s on your mind.
It doesn’t have to be pretty and flowery. It doesn’t even really have to flow. Just write what’s on your mind. Write about what you’re struggling with right now. You don’t have to embellish or believe that it isn’t worth putting out there — we all have these moments in life. Just cut through the crap and be real. It will be refreshing and therapeutic. And you’ll be back to your wordsmith self in no time.
The Substance Approach
What you’ll need: two alcoholic beverages and a cup of coffee
If you are not a drinker, or if you’ve had problems with relying on alcohol as a crutch in the past, avoid this one. However, I’ve found that just two drinks (in particular, two glasses of wine that are savoured and sipped on), followed by a cup of coffee is a great combination for me. It loosens me up enough to promote creativity, while allowing me to remain alert and awake.
Perhaps it’s not the healthiest approach, but you can always try to adapt it to better suit your own lifestyle. Maybe sipping on tea all night has the same relaxing effect on you.
The Just Do It Approach
What you’ll need: to toughen up and just get through the first five minutes
When it comes down to it, the best way to overcome procrastination is to just toughen up and get through the first five minutes — this is pretty much true for anything. Getting to work can be a hateful thing, even if the work is something you say you love. Those first few minutes can be torture, so just take it a step at a time.
Don’t think about writing a blogpost, just think about logging into your admin page. Don’t think about how to introduce the topic, just think about opening up that blank page. Don’t even think about how to put your overall message in words, just write the first sentence. Set yourself up with an environment for flow to happen, and it will come before too long.