1. Writer’s Block
Step Away. Sometimes all you need is a break. Go for a walk, do the dishes, or craft for a bit. You’re looking for a physical activity that requires little mental concentration. This will give your mind a break and let it wander. Don’t be surprised if in the middle of vacuuming your living room an idea hits you. Just like anything else our minds need a reset button sometimes.
Get Stimulated. Talk to a friend, scan your favorite social media, or read a book. Many of our ideas for writing come from our everyday live – whether we consciously or unconsciously choose them. When you’re at a loss for what to write, interacting with fresh sources of information can help introduce new ideas to the creative parts of your brain.
Scene Change. While it’s important to have a designated space for your writing, during about of writer’s block that space can start to feel like a jail cell. Give yourself a mental refresher by moving somewhere new. Instead of your office try the kitchen or playroom. If you have the ability, try a coffee shop, public library, or park bench. Many public spaces – even those outside – have WiFi connections: take advantage of them!
Write Every Day. This is a pretty standard rule for writers, but one that can feel overwhelming. Like any other craft, the more you do it, the better you become. However, sometimes this advice seems to imply that we need to produce mass amounts of work (500, 1,000, 2,500 words: hello NaNoWriMo!), but in reality all that you’re asking for is to write something each day – even if it’s only one sentence. The point is to make writing a habit rather than a special activity.
Multitasking. We think we can simultaneously write and check our email, Facebook, and online banking pages. Many of us sit down, intending to write, and end up multitasking our time away. Paid computer apps like Freedom, which stop you from surfing the internet and block social media sites, force you to concentrate. However, if you have tight pockets and willpower, a good rule of thumb is to only allow one window or tab open on your computer at a time.
Outsource It. Apps like Grammarly will check your work as you write for correct spelling, grammar, and word choice. Bonus: the program also gives explanations as it corrects you, so you have a better understanding of why the suggestion is being made.
Read It. But don’t read it from start to finish. Your brain will skip over all of the mistakes because you created the piece; you’re too familiar with it. For short or very important pieces try reading the text backward (from the end to the beginning); mistakes will become glaringly obvious. For longer pieces try reading them out loud. Again, you’ll hear mistakes you would have missed reading it silently to yourself.
4. Fresh Ideas
Take a page out of someone else’s book. Take a look at other books or blogs you enjoy reading and look for trends. Do you like how they summarize a piece? Do you like the hook they use for their start? Is there a topic that interests you as well? Use what you like as a starting point and make it your own.
Try a new meme. Look for weekly or monthly memes that you can participate in. You can find these via other blogs you read or a Google search for your subject matter and ‘memes’ (i.e. “book blog memes”). Bonus: participating and commenting via the meme will build a larger network.
5. Lack of confidence
You learn something new every day. Always remember that writing, like all arts, involves a constant state of learning. Even in the best writers there is room for improvement. Be consistent in your writing and it will get better with time.
Join a group. Find a writers group online where you can get feedback from others. You’ll find that not only will they offer constructive criticism, but they’ll also offer compliments on what you’re already doing well!
6. No Traction
If a tree falls alone in the forest, does it make a sound? Answer: Who knows? No one is around to hear it. The same is true for your blog. Blogs are a very social space to write in. If you want more people to view and comment on your blog, you need to take the time to view and comment on other people’s blogs as well.
Sharing is Caring. Supporting smaller memes, posting for giveaways, and hyperlinking out to other blogs when appropriate are all great ways to not only support other bloggers, but to put you on their radar to get support in return. Remember, you can also do this via the social media channels attached to your blog too!
7. Word Choice
Go Old School. It’s called a thesaurus. It’s the book that’s kind of like a dictionary but instead of giving you a definition, it gives you a list of other words that have similar and opposite meanings to the word you are looking up. Thankfully sites like Thesaurus.com make using it simple. ProTip: highlighting a word in a Google Doc or Word document and opening the shortcut menu will give you the option for synonyms – it’s a quick and easy way to get a new word.
Rule of Thumb. Never use the same descriptive word twice in a single sentence or within two sentences of its first (i.e. John liked playing on the playground. Playing on the swings was his favorite activity. Changed to: John liked playing on the playground. Swinging on the swings was his favorite activity).
8. Negative Comments
“Bye Felicia”. Sometimes haters are just going to hate. If you receive comments that are purely negative delete them and move on. Remember that you have many readers who enjoy what you write, even if they aren’t so active at commenting.
The Golden Rule. Do unto others as you would have done to you. This means you don’t get to engage the commenter. Don’t have an argument with them on the comment boards, don’t email them nasty emails, and don’t go to their blog and trash them there. It will just make the situation worse
Be Clear. Is the comment mean? Or does it offer constructive criticism? Remember, even if unsolicited, a critique of your work will only help you grow as a writer.
9. Idea A.D.D.
A Plethora of Goodness . The opposite of writer’s block and yet just as paralyzing. When we have too many good ideas it can be difficult to pick, concentrate on, or follow through with just one. Try opening up multiple folders, documents, or posts and writing a description of a different idea in each space. Then pick one and devote a set amount of time to it (say 30 minutes) – when time is up you can move on to another idea or stick with the one you chose if your creativity is on point. Bonus: the other documents you started can be great problem solvers when you’re struck with writer’s Block.