People are writing more than ever. Emails, tweets, posts, and blogs fill our world and take priority over phone and face-to-face conversations. And now, with content marketing becoming more and more critical to growth, good writing is likely the most important communication skill you can master if you want to be successful in business. Most of you have to write something important, sometime. So you sit down, flip open the laptop and…freeze. Whether it’s caused by panic or lack of organization, or if you just get stuck, writer’s block can be painful and frustrating. Somehow you need to find the find the muse after she has run off.
My best friends for solving writers block are sleep, exercise, and web-surfing. Most of the time, if I am blocked, it’s because my brain is simply exhausted. A good night’s sleep or even a short nap will help the synapses start firing again. If that doesn’t work, I head out for a 5k run or a long paddle in the kayak. The scenery inspires me, and those extra endorphins get my brain moving. On one 10k run I came up with 14 column ideas, enough for a whole month. I had to repeat the titles in my head in order so I could remember and write them down when I got home. My last resort is surfing the Web. Reading other people’s writing is usually enough to give me the angle I needed to get going.
I usually start with a glass of red wine and read columns from my smart Inc. colleagues, who generously share their writer’s block remedies here.
1. Know it or postpone it.
Never sit down hoping you’ll “discover” a great topic. You might discover a neat way to bring a great topic to life…but you’ll never dream one up by staring at a blank screen. If I can’t write 600 to 800 words in 25 minutes, then I haven’t figured out what I want to say.
Always know what you want to say and have a framework for how you want to say it before you start. And if you find yourself struggling partway through, put it away for later and turn to another idea. Time heals all blocks. –Jeff Haden, Owner’s Manual
Want to read more from Jeff? Click here.
2. Conquer the fear.
I believe most writer’s block doesn’t come from lack of inspiration. If you’ve sat down to write something, chances are you have something to say. The real problem is fear–fear that what you write will be ridiculed, or simply won’t meet your own high standards.
My secret for overcoming that fear (yes, professional writers have it, too) is to put words down with a serious lack of commitment. This is what I’m writing as if it were my real work, but it’s not, I’m going to change it later. Even if you do write something awful, once it’s written, you will likely see how to make it better. –Minda Zetlin, Start Me Up
Want to read more from Minda? Click here.
3. Move the project aside.
As a full-time writer, I cannot afford to get writer’s block. However, when writing on a particular project becomes a slog (which it sometimes does), I have found the best cure is to put that project aside for a little bit and work on something–anything–else. Switching projects lets me re-find my rhythm and start moving forward again. After a while, I’m then able to return to the original project with a clear head, which snaps me out of whatever it was that was slowing me down in the first place. –Peter Economy, The Management Guy
Want to read more from Peter? Click here.
4. Don’t force it.
When your muse is playing hard to get do what I do: Give up. Well, not entirely, just for a brief time. You don’t have to force creativity, because once given a mission, your subconscious mind will work relentlessly to produce exactly what you’re looking for. Why not take the pressure off, and let it do the work? Try shifting gears; relax and the creativity will flow in its own time. I find success in a brief meditation, a relaxing stroll in the yard, or a workout. This process of relinquishing control rarely lets me down, yet the ease of it all never ceases to amaze me. –Marla Tabaka, The Successful Soloist
Want to read more from Marla? Click here.
5. Get out of the office.
When I am stuck or have writer’s block, the best remedy is to get out of the office and attend an event or my local Toastmaster’s meeting. Listening to someone present or watching a panel always sparks several ideas for potential starting points for my own content.
I purposefully look for events that are outside my typical area of focus. Listening to a speech on grilling, a presentation on how to grow a garden, or what it takes to learn how to be on a rowing team gives me a different perspective and starts my creative juices flowing. I walk out of an event with three or more topics that can further explored and applied to my area of expertise. –Eric Holtzclaw, Lean Forward
Want to read more from Eric? Click here.
6. Just start writing.
Writer’s block can be paralyzing! Trust me: I’ve published three books and 300 articles and I’ve probably had 3,000 cases of writer’s block along the way. I’ve learned that the only true solution for me is to just start writing. I might literally be writing gibberish–but soon enough, it will turn into editable writing, and one day a finished product. It’s all about the start. –Dave Kerpen, Likeable Leadership
Want to read more from Dave? Click here.
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LAST UPDATED: AUG 7, 2014
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KEVIN DAUM | Columnist
An Inc. 500 entrepreneur with a more than $1 billion sales and marketing track record, Kevin Daum is the best-selling author of Video Marketing for Dummies and the executive producer of Amilya! on 77WABC New York.
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.