Whether you are a writer, a blogger, or anyone in any kind of field that involves tapping into your creative side, inevitably you will at some point hit a road block (or a mind block, so to speak.) It’s that sickening feeling in your stomach when you feel like you have run out of ideas or you just cannot move forward on a project. Here are a few tips that I sometimes use when I hit that brick wall.
Location, location, location
Change your setting – sometimes simply moving to another room can bring your head to a different place. Go work in a conference room, outside, at home, at the library, or at Starbucks. The key is to find that peaceful place where you can relax, think and get into your zone.
Go old school
Shut down your computer and pick up a pen and paper. Freely jot down ideas, words, phrases, or key points. Do some free association and you might be surprised what comes out. Don’t worry about having it make sense or sound good. Just get your ideas down and refine it later.
Do your homework
Knowledge is inspiration. Make sure you have done enough research and have asked the right people enough questions to write what you need to write. Know your subject and make sure you give yourself enough lead time to do research.
Who are you?
Just as important as knowledge about what you are writing, is knowledge about your audience. Understand for whom you are writing. Consumers, media, colleagues, peers, customers, or whoever it may be, get into their heads to understand how to write in their language.
What are you?
As you need to know your subject and your audience, you also need to understand your style. Writing copy for an ad, for packaging, for a web site, for a press release, or a blog post all require a different tone and style. Understand the platform that you need to stand on and write from that place.
Don’t think too hard
Sometimes if you are trying too hard or thinking too hard, the words just don’t come. Freedom is the key here. Relax your mind and let the words start flowing.
Don’t spread yourself too thin
Focus on one writing project at a time. Switching voices from a press release to marketing copy and back again takes a change of mindset. If you have multiple writing projects due at the same time, then take a break and tackle something different before returning to your writing.
Do your work in small bites
Don’t pressure yourself into sitting down and writing what you need to write in one sitting. Great writing rarely takes shape in the first shot. Break your writing projects into bite size pieces. Even if you feel stuck, just commit to fifteen minutes to write something…even if it’s just quick thoughts, ideas, or simply a list of free-associated keywords that you want to touch upon in the piece.
Plan projects to meet your mood
If you feel stuck on a press release, then switch to a different writing project that needs doing with a different voice, on a different subject. Not to procrastinate, but to be able to step away for a bit and switch your mind to something else. Be sure to make specific time to get back to it and try again.
What’s in your way?
Stop for a few minutes to try to understand what’s blocking you. Is it a lack of information, inspiration, time, or something else? Once you can understand what’s holding you back, you can try to tackle the underlying problem by seeking more information, resources, inspiration or setting aside more time.
Inspiration through conversation
Look for inspiration through conversations with your colleagues, or if you are out on your own, talk with your clients or your virtual colleagues. Bouncing ideas around with others knowledgeable in the subject can shed new light on a new angle that will free you up and get the words flowing.
Inspiration from unusual places
Sometimes inspiration can come from unexpected places. Stepping outside of your own world or your comfort zone can help you to see things from a different perspective.
Sometimes picking up a book or reading an article or a blog can work to inspire you to relate to a subject in a different way. Hop online, google your subject, and see what chatter is going on online. Look at what your competitors are doing and saying. Try to understand what works for them and why.
Don’t see writing as a task, see it as a way of life and as a process. Write for pleasure outside of work. Keep a journal, write poems, comment on blogs, write essays about your childhood – anything to keep writing fresh, exciting and diverse.
Remove distractions. Shut off your email, so it’s not alerting you to new messages. Shut off the ringer on your phone. Shut down your Twitter and Facebook. Clear your desk of clutter and reminders of the hundreds of other things you have to do. Allow yourself the environment to be able to focus.
Are you a morning person or a vampire?
Determine your best time of day for creativity to flow. Are you best in the morning and burned out in the afternoon? Write during the time of day when you are most alert and save the more mundane tasks you need to do for when you don’t need as much brainpower. Fatigue does not promote creativity.
Take a deep breath
Relax. Take a walk. Exercise. Clear your head. Play with your dog. Incorporate a little time everyday for stress reduction. The more you stress, the worse it will be.
Feel free to add your own tips to this list….