Whether you’re a freelance writer or a book author, we all tend to struggle to get the words on the page at some point or another. There’s no doubt that it can be difficult to figure out how to overcome writer’s block when it crops up.
But luckily, it’s not the end of the world! There are a variety of ways you can overcome writer’s block, regardless of the type of writing that you do.
I’ve had multiple conversations over the years with various people—friends, other freelancers, clients—who have a misconception that because I write for a living (and because I’ve been doing this for the past decade), I personally don’t really have to ever deal with writer’s block.
This couldn’t be further from the truth! I hit a wall with a client project just a few weeks ago. And a couple months ago, I was seriously struggling to finish the first draft of my latest novel, Make Me Forget (which, by the way, I published earlier this week. Hurray!).
I have those tough writer moments too, just the same as you. But it’s what we do when it happens that matters. That’s how I managed to get my client project in before the deadline (and it was received with great feedback), and how I managed to finish writing that first draft and polish it up so as to have Make Me Forget (Book 3 in my romance series) ready in time for publishing.
Here’s how I overcome writer’s block—maybe these ideas will help you out, too.
10 ideas for how to overcome writer’s block
1. Dig into why it’s happening
For myself, I often find that I’m more likely to get writer’s block if I’m worrying about what other people will think about the finished product, or if I lose sight of my “why” for writing in the first place. These tend to be related to two sides of my business: my freelance writing work and the novels I write.
But the thing is, why worry about what people will think about the finished product, when you don’t even have a finished product yet? At the very least, postpone the worries until after you’ve finished writing! Your future self can deal with that.
2. Get back in touch with why you’re writing in the first place
Building on our previous idea, when you lose sight of why you write, it’s easy to get paralyzed into inaction or feel too overwhelmed to make any progress. In other words, writer’s block sets in.
So how do you overcome writer’s block in this case? By getting back in touch with your purpose for writing.
This is especially valuable for book authors, because we tend to have a lot of emotion attached to the books we write. When you remember why it’s so important to you to get this story on paper, the words will start to flow more freely once again.
You can also apply this same way of thinking to your freelance work when you stop to consider why having your freelance writing business is so important to you, for example.
3. Change your environment
I work from home full-time, which I love… but being by myself at home for days on end can sometimes make my environment “stale.” If I’ve been trying and struggling to overcome writer’s block for a while, I take that as a sign I need to change my environment by working at a coffee shop instead.
Part of the reason for this is that my mindset is, “if I paid for a fancy cup of coffee, then I’m not going to waste my time at the coffee shop going on social media.” I’m determined to make progress on that project so that the fancy coffee is worth my while!
Another reason for this is that being in a new environment can stimulate the creative juices and provide you with a whole new set of inspiration. And when you’re used to being alone with your work, being around people can be a nice change of pace (and vice versa).
By the way—another way you can “change your environment” is by doing something like changing the music you’re listening to, or even change your outfit. Sometimes you need to shift your mood, and getting dressed in clothes that match the tone of whatever you’re writing, or listening to music that inspires you, can be just the thing to get out of your writing funk.
4. Remind yourself that you can edit it later
If you feel like your writing is getting too cheesy or it just seems to be coming out all wrong, keep in mind that you can change it later. You can edit it or even delete it entirely.
Stop pressuring yourself to get that first draft perfect! When you take perfectionism out of the equation, it’s easier to focus on just writing and getting it done.
5. Take a break
You might be experiencing writer’s block because you’re burning yourself out by working too much. If you can, take a break from writing for a few hours or a several days. Maybe even a couple weeks! It’s okay to take time away from your writing.
That being said, I encourage you to have a plan for when you’ll get back into it, or set some kind of timeframe/deadline on your break. This is especially important for projects where no one else is relying on you to get it done by a certain time. Otherwise, months could go by without you getting back into writing. So when you take a break, make sure you don’t let that break become the rest of your life.
Don’t let writer’s block hold you back! Here are 10 fresh ideas from @Saganlives to deal with it, once and for all…
6. Try writing something different
Escape to another project entirely. What’s probably happened when you have writer’s block is that you’ve gotten too “in your head,” so by changing your writing style and switching to another project, you’ll be able to get out of your own head and change your way of thinking.
Consider switching to a different client project, writing a blog post, working on some kind of other creative writing project, journaling, etc.
7. Go for a walk (or a shower)
I know a lot of people do their best thinking in the shower. Personally, I do my best thinking when I’m out for a long walk.
The idea here isn’t to force yourself to think about your writing project (if you do that, you’ll probably just continue to hit a wall). Instead, you’re letting your mind wander, and if it comes back to your project on its own, then all the better. You’re letting your subconscious do the work for you!
By the time you step out of the shower or get home from your walk, you might have already had the eureka moment so that you can be inspired to start writing again.
8. Try something new
With my novels, sometimes I’ll struggle with writing a particular scene. It just doesn’t want to be written! In that case, I might try changing it: taking the story in a different direction, skipping over the scene entirely (or reducing it to just a couple sentences), etc.
If you’re having a tough time getting past the writer’s block, then it could be because you’re trying to make a square peg fit into a round hole. Try changing your initial plan and going in a different direction with your idea.
9. Set the timer or give yourself a word count to meet and stick to it
This is the tough love way of dealing with writer’s block: just sit down and force yourself to get it done.
You might especially need to do this if you need to meet a deadline for a client. Set the timer, give yourself a word count, and don’t get up from your chair until you’re finished.
10. Read something
Perhaps what you’re missing is some inspiration from someone else! Take some time to read a book or an article. Maybe it’s your own writing, or maybe it’s something by your favourite author.
It doesn’t really matter what you choose to read, but by stepping away from your own work and diving into someone else’s, you might get the motivation you need to finally overcome writer’s block.
What do you do to manage writer’s block? Have you tried any of these tips for how to overcome writer’s block… and have they worked for you? Share in the comments!