Actions and Strategies to Overcome Writer’s Block and Keep Your Manuscript on Schedule
You’ve got your book outline and a schedule of benchmarks for word counts and pages. That’s all you need, right? Then you sit down with your coffee and look at the blank screen. Panic sets in. You write a sentence and then delete it. Do not give in to the urge to close the program and give up. You would never do that in your business. Don’t do that in your writing habits, either.
At this point, most commonly, you might think you have writer’s block. This is a state of mind that’s often described as not being able to find the right words to get your message across. That is how it feels to keep deleting what you try to say. But, needing the right words is not usually what’s actually blocking your writing process.
I tell this to my book coaching clients all the time. The words will come to you, and this will happen fairly easily, when you know what you want to communicate to your audience. So, most often what feels like writer’s block is a case of not knowing the right words because you’re not clear on the ideas you want to express. So, the next time you sit down to meet your word count and find yourself at a loss for words, try these exercises to jumpstart your ideas and keep the words flowing. When you do that, comment and let me know how you enjoy the exercise.
1. Conduct Research: Google the topic you want to write about and read blogs or look at websites that address similar audiences with similar information. You might see opinions that you disagree with, and you can bring your perspective back to your book and discuss your opinion as a differentiator. This exercise might also remind you of other ideas you want to expand upon, and it can reinforce what your audience might be already thinking about, so you can tap into those shared thoughts and values.
2. Move On: You don’t have to write your book in the order that it will be read. If you are getting stuck on one topic, move on to a different topic that you feel more confident about that day. As you get more and more writing done, you may discover the ideas that you need for the subject that is causing you problems, or in other cases, you might realize that you’re having trouble with the writing because the ideas are not a good fit with you and your niche of expertise.
3. Get Curious: Conduct a mock interview with yourself and ask a series of straightforward questions around the topic to try and unlock your ideas. You can also take those questions and ask them to someone who fits your target audience so you will have a better sense of what she needs to know and how your ideas can help her. Another place for help is Quora.com, where you can post questions and get answers, as well as answer others’ questions.
4. Clear Distractions: Keep your writing area tidy and free of clutter. No kidding, cluttered spaces encourage your mind to be cluttered because of all that conflicting sensory data. If you are distracted by a chore, complete it and then come back to writing. Do not check social media or emails during your scheduled writing time, even if you get stuck.
5. Writing Prompt: There are so many great writing prompts that this topic will be its own separate blog, but quickly here are a couple of creative writing prompts that totally work for professional writing. Start with an image. Describe something in great detail. What does it look, feel, smell, taste, and sound like? These details can unlock more information and ideas and be just the jumpstart your writing needs. You might also tell a story about the topic. A case study is a good place to start, and then as you analyze the story, the ideas will flow and have a context for the reader.
Each writing session is one more contribution to the overall product, and it’s so important to maximize that time and focus your energy on getting your ideas onto the page and not allow excuses to derail you from your goals.
What other strategies do you find helpful when you are making progress in writing for a big project? When I am coaching clients on their book projects, we check in regularly to see that they are staying on track, so accountability partners can also help you get unstuck if your writing gets blocked. Don’t forget that my book coaching services are 50% off for the month of April only.
Comment and tell me what tip you try and whether you find it helpful!