19 Apr Got writer’s block? 13 hacks to bust through your procrastination and perfectionism and actually write
You don’t have time for writer’s block.
Am I right? You’ve got a business to run and work to do.
You know that creating (and sharing) great content is essential to get your message out there and grow your business, but it’s hard to find the time to get the writing done.
And when you do manage to miraculously carve out an hour to write… suddenly other things seem much more important. Like cleaning that spot off the window, sharpening all your pencils, online window shopping or putting on another load of washing… and before you know it, that precious hour has been and gone.
If this sounds familiar then you’re in good company.
All writers get blocked from time to time. The key is learning to push past the resistance, telling fear to take a back seat and doing the work anyway.
It’s about finding the tricks that will help you bust through that procrastination and perfectionism, and get the writing done.
Here are 13 hacks for getting down to work when your body wants to do anything but write. (Not all of these will apply to you – some may even seem contradictory. So feel free to take the ones that work for you and ditch the rest):
Making time to write:
- Recognise that writing is valuable work. It is not indulgent, frivolous or a waste of your time. Whether you’re writing a journal entry or a Facebook post, it’s all part of the creative process that allows your ideas to percolate and amplify. Getting your ideas onto the page allows you to refine them, test them and share them with the world. So whatever you’re working on, grant yourself permission to write and get to work.
- Write something every day. It might not be a whole lot. It might just be a Facebook post. It might be an email. It might just be your daily journalling. Whatever it is, take a moment to reconnect to the heart of your business every day and then share from that place of purpose and connection. A simple way to do this is to write out every morning “Today my clients need me because…”, or “Today my clients need to hear….” Remind yourself why your work matters and why you should show up. Then go share it.
- Consider how and when you write best. Maybe it’s first thing in the morning. Maybe it’s just after lunch when you drop into that post-sushi slump and can’t face spreadsheets. Maybe it’s late at night, hard up against a deadline (guilty!)
Play around with this for a while. Try journalling first thing in the morning, breaking for breakfast/exercise/commuting and then spending the first half an hour of your day (before official working hours) creating your content. Try getting out of the house and going to a favourite coffee shop – phone off, WiFi free. Experiment with different times and places to find the conditions that work for you.
- Book time in your calendar. At the moment I’m experimenting with running A weeks and B weeks. A weeks are for client calls, podcast interviews, catch ups and networking. B weeks are for doing the client work and creating all my content. This allows me concentrated blocks of dedicated content creation time, when I know I won’t get interrupted and I can dig into some juicy projects. You could equally do this with one morning a week, or alternate days. Just make sure you stick to it.
- Block out time for bigger projects. If you have a big presentation or project coming up, block out time in your diary and stick to it religiously. No frittering away the allocated hour and then thinking there isn’t enough left to get stuck in.
- Keep a list of ideas in the back of your diary so you’ve always got something to draw on if you feel stuck for inspiration. Customers’ questions are gold for this – write them all down every time you hear one and turn the answers into great content.
Sitting down to write
- Warm up first. If you sit down to write and the words aren’t flowing, try a couple pages of free writing. I share weekly journalling prompts with my subscribers, so pick one and write for five to ten minutes to get the words flowing. Nine times out of ten, you’ll find a gem of content inspiration in those pages.
- Give yourself a deadline and a reward. Parkinsons’ law tells us that work will expand to fill the allotted time available. If your work has no real deadline, you could fluff around with it for weeks or months – but if the deadline is looming, you will get it done. So set a deadline, promise yourself a hot bath or a cuppa or something else lovely if you meet it, then get to work.
- Start where you are For me, the intro to my blog is always the hardest piece for me to write and trying to come up with the right one can keep me stuck for ages. You don’t have to write in linear fashion – instead, start where inspiration finds you. Start writing in the middle of the blog, or at the end, and circle back to the part you found most difficult. Anything to keep those words flowing.
- Try Pomodoro sprints. This is a productivity tool where you set a timer and write hard for 25 minutes, then take a 5-minute break. This is a great way of pushing through the pain and getting those words down on the page.
- Don’t look back, just keep moving forward. The editing can come later, just getting the shape of the ideas on the page is 80% of the work.
- Stick to one simple idea per blog or post. If you find yourself moving off into another idea, carve that off for a separate blog or post.
- Try moving. If you get stuck, pick up your power hoop, walk around the block, or do one of Fitness Marshall’s five-minute dance workouts. Shake things up, then come back to the page with fresh energy.
Find anything you like? Choose one or two tips and put them to work this week – then let me know how you get on in the comments below.
Next week I’ll be sharing my top five tips on self-compassion for writers. If you really can’t wait, click here to sign up for my Write to the Heart Collection – my subscriber-only treasury of writing resources – and get all 18 tips in one purty little ebook. It’s free.