Here you are – all cozy and set up to write another fabulous blog post. You open a new file…and end up staring at a black page for minutes. All the words and thoughts you have neatly lined up on your “creative shelf” have magically disappeared.
All of us have to battle with the dreaded writer’s block once in a while. And there’s a myriad of justified reasons for having it – lack of focus, anxiety, at-home distractions, and good old burnout. Don’t be hard on yourself for being “unproductive”. Instead, take a deep breath and skim through the next quick techniques to restore your creative mojo.
BRAINSTORM PRODUCTIVELY INSTEAD OF WRITING
If you can’t crack a single decent sentence, don’t push further. Take a productive break and schedule a brainstorming session for your project. Our brain feels intimidated by the “unknown” and doesn’t like to cooperate when there’s no clear roadmap present. So let’s get one ready.
Instead of writing an outline, try creating a mind map for your next post. The mind mapping technique is very simple, here’s how it goes:
- Draw a large circle that will represent your main topic or idea in the middle of the page.
- Start writing down all the thoughts you have on the matter in separate bubbles and then connect them with a line with your main idea and inter-link them with one another.
Let your mind flow and add as many ideas as possible, then review your mind map and start acting!
Alternatively, you can always go with a proven journalist technique called 5Ws and 1H:
- Write down five questions that start with What, Who, Where, When, Why and How related to your topic.
- Jot down the most detailed answers you can.
- Take a quick look at what you have and edit it into a final copy.
UNWIND AND HEAD TO A COFFEE SHOP
Did you know that certain levels of ambient noise such as the hiss of an espresso machine, muted voices, and clattering of plates improve your performance on creative tasks? Well, it’s a scientific fact and you’re excused to go and grab a cuppa or that fancy matcha latte.
Try and choose a spot within walking distance of your home. This way you’ll have some time to leisurely stroll and breathe some air before settling on a new writing session.
The Yale University psychologists Jerome Singer and Michael Barrios conducted a massive investigation of the writer’s block phenomenon. After working closely with a group of struggling writers, they came up with the next recipe for success – exercises in directed mental imagery.
Here’s what you should do:
- Create a list of props/places such as your ideal vacation spot; an autumn garden in Kyoto etc.
- Get comfy in a quiet space, where you won’t be bothered by anything.
- Now describe your dream-like creations in words. “Visualize” them in your head and try to add as many details as possible to your picture.
- After a few attempts, move on and try to visualize something from your project. You can take notes this time.
This quick exercise should help you get re-inspired and refuel your brain to focus on the creative job at hand.
SELF-IMPOSE A DEADLINE
Writing is a skill that needs to be practiced all the time in order to flow. But we often miss our sessions for all sorts of reasons. Even if you don’t feel like writing at all, go on and set a timer for 20 minutes. Just free write whatever you like, and don’t be bothered too much about the quality of your writing.
As Jodi Picoult said “you might not write well every day, but you can always edit a bad page. You can’t edit a blank page.”
SCHEDULE A WRITING SESSION WITH YOUR PRODUCTIVE BFF
Work enthusiasm can be contagious. According to a new study, simply performing a task next to a person who exerts a lot of effort in a task can make you feel equally thrilled. So ring up your BFF and ask if she minds working with you side-by-side in a nearby coffee shop. And we do mean work first, and chatting later!
And if none of the above works, just give yourself a proper break and completely switch tasks. Step away from the writing project at hand and do something that delights you – cook a delicious meal, go out for a jog or re-organize your wardrobe. Often times doing unrelated tasks will help you brain snap into creative mode once again!