Quit Stalling, Start Writing
By Melissa Chu
It can be hard to stay self-motivated when you’re freelancing. Life gets in the way, and that new Netflix release can look awfully tempting compared to a strenuous writing session.
Time goes by, and before you know it, nothing has been done. If you find yourself dreaming about writing, talking about writing, or planning to write, let’s face it. You’re not writing. Real writers write.
Of course, it’s not that easy. Ultimately, you’re the one who’s accountable for your own work. Even though getting things done can be tough when nobody’s there to push you, you can use a few techniques to get into the groove once again.
Tips for Getting Out of a Writing Slump
Try following these four tips and see if they get you going on your next piece:
- Promise yourself a reward after doing a task
I like to treat myself to something nice, such as a snack or a TV show – but only after I’ve completed a certain amount of work. It’s not a pretty thought when you’re facing a blank page, but it works. For example, if I need to write a post, I might set a small goal such as doing some basic brainstorming. Once I jot down a number of bullet points, then I can have a small break.I sometimes find that I’m actually tired and could use a break. Other times, I end up becoming incredibly focused on the task at hand and forget about the break. Either way, I’ve made progress.
- Break the task down
It’s easy to get excited in the beginning of a project and set big, lofty goals for ourselves. But once the hard work begins, our initial goal just seems too out of reach. We begin to falter. As a result, a lot of writers give up or decide to do the work “later.” Instead of setting an overly ambitious goal such as “I’m going to go from 0 to 5,000 subscribers by the end of the year,” why not set a concrete, yet manageable goal just for the day? The truth is, we often set goals that require too many steps, overwhelming ourselves. For example, I might just set one very simple goal like opening a Word document and typing in the post topic. That’s it. Then, I might set another mini-goal, such as “type in a few bullet points.” These goals might not seem like much, but they break the resistance of getting started in the first place.
- Warm up first
It can be hard to go straight from waking up and enjoying a nice breakfast to working on your post right away. Why not do a warm-up first? Thinking of what to write can be tiring, especially if you’re still groggy. Instead, you could start off by reading other posts for some inspiration. See what types of topics are popular with readers and whether you can gain some insight for your own writing. If you still don’t feel like writing, performing a few simple tasks can get you in the mood. This can include brainstorming a number of topics, or choosing a topic and writing whatever comes to mind.
- Avoid analysis-paralysis
Writer’s block, perfectionism, fear – these are words that all describe the doubt you feel before you put the words down. They’re all part of the process. And if you let them take hold, they can keep you from writing anything at all. Doubts can easily paralyze even the most gifted writer. Next time that happens, try this: Just let loose. Write. Don’t get stuck over every word when you write for the first time. Write in free form and put down whatever words come to mind first. It can be intimidating, but also strangely liberating. No one can hear your words; you’re just expressing (or venting) your thoughts to yourself. Some people say that changing from a computer to a pen and paper helps free their thoughts. I, on the other hand, like to write as if I’m telling a story to a friend. After all, you don’t get stuck when trying to chat to an old friend.
What is one technique you like to use to overcome writer’s block and get un-stuck in your writing?
Melissa Chu helps people get productive and develop good work habits. Check out the free guide that shows you how to develop a framework to achieve your writing goals, so that you can quit procrastinating and start writing.