You’re supposed to be writing, yet you find yourself just sitting there. Regardless of how much you try, the words, paragraphs, and pages escape you to the point where all you’ve done for the last hour or so is stare at the cursor as it continues to blink on the stark white computer screen.
You, my friend, have a case of writer’s block.
Not to worry though because—unlike a disease without a cure—this condition can be overcome. In fact, here are a few things that professional writers do when they have a looming deadline but can’t seem to find the words.
Don’t Edit, Just Write
Sometimes writer’s block is caused by trying to write something perfectly the first time. If you’ve ever typed a sentence, erased it, typed it again, and erased it again, this is likely what happened to you.
Instead of trying to come up with a finished document right out of the gate, just write. Don’t edit. Don’t try to find the right word. Don’t try to put everything in its proper order.
Your only goal should be to get your thoughts down on paper. You can always go back and fix them when you’re done. (Which is why a lot of professional writers use editors, by the way.)
Create an Outline
Maybe the reason you can’t come up with the words is because you have so many ideas floating around in your head that you don’t know where to start. One way to rectify this is to create an outline.
By organizing your thoughts in a logical pattern, you free your mind to focus on the ideas or points you want to discuss in each section of your document.
Depending on what you’re writing, your outline could consist of an introduction, body, and conclusion (such as in a research paper), or it might be a bit lengthier (like chapters in a book).
Ditch the Outline
Okay, so you may be wondering why the last suggestion was to create an outline, but this one is to ditch it. What gives?
Though some people love the order that outlines provide, others do better with a little more creative freedom. If you fall into this second category, then trying to come up with an outline may make your writer’s block worse versus better.
Instead, simply list all of the points you want to make, but don’t worry about putting them in any sort of order or outline until closer to the end.
The point is that there is no right or wrong here. It’s more a case of figuring out what works best for you.
Freestyle for a Bit
Some pro writers move past their writer’s block by freestyling for a bit. This involves writing about anything and everything, even if it’s not at all related to the project at hand.
The goal of freestyling is to get your creative juices flowing. This is much easier when you’re writing about something that’s on your mind or something you have been thinking about and need to let out.
If you’re not sure how to get started, begin by writing about something that is stressing you out, something that makes you happy, what you want to get done the rest of the day, or the goals you have for yourself.
It’s not so important what you write about, more so that you write at all.
Do Something Else
When all else fails and, when no matter what you do you cannot seem to put words on the screen, let alone make them make sense, walk away. Go do something else.
The value in this is the same as the value in taking a walk or jumping in the shower when you have a problem you can’t seem to solve. Sometimes the mere act of switching gears and doing another activity is enough to get your mind back in the writing game.
These are the things professional writers do when they feel like they’ve hit a wall. Now you can do them too.