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Article Teaser: I used to think that writer's block was just another word for procrastination. When someone whined about being blocked I assumed it was because they had ignored the cardinal rule of writing—in order to get anything done, you've got to put your butt in the chair and do the time.

Keep reading below...

Seven Simple Strategies for Overcoming Writer's Block RIGHT NOW!

Copyright (c) 2008-2017

I used to think that writer’s block was just another word for procrastination. When someone whined about being blocked I assumed it was because they had ignored the cardinal rule of writing—in order to get anything done, you’ve got to put your butt in the chair and do the time.

I’d never really experienced writer’s block until I wrote my big book on coaching. The first few chapters came easily. Then nothing came. I’d have weeks where I wrote and weeks where I beat my head on the desk. I was stuck—hopelessly, impossibly, undeniably stuck. But, I had a deadline to meet with my publisher. I needed to free the words and my spirit and get the book done.

Here are some of the tools that I used to get that book written faster than any other book I’d written before. My clients have used these tools to successfully get unstuck—without having to resort to beating their heads against their desks!

Tool 1: Get Some Distance

Step away from the problematic chapter (or letter or article) you are working on—right now! Get space, get perspective, get a massage! We cannot solve problems when we are tired or burned out. Take a break and do something totally different. Allow your subconscious mind time to work out a solution while you work or play at something less sticky.

In the book The Breakout Principle by Herbert Benson and William Proctor, the authors suggest that breakout solutions appear when we leave a big problem behind and do something repetitive like needlepoint, tennis, or walking. Often in the midst of these repetitive exercises, the solution will magically appear! Amazing!

I wrote the book Welcome Forward: A Field Guide for Global Travelers with my friend Susan Lang in 11 days (9 days of writing and 2 days of editing). One of the keys to being able to deliver good copy day after day was my daily walk. After writing all morning, I’d have lunch and then head out for an afternoon walk. I always returned with the morning’s problems solved and a slew of new ideas for the next day’s work. (And, by the way, moderate physical activity—like walking—increases cognitive capacity by driving more blood and oxygen to the brain. According to the research, people who walk are smarter than people who don’t. Wow! If you take a walk you can both overcome writer’s block and get smarter!)

Tool 2: Location, Location, Location!

Michael Gelb, author of How to Think Like Leonardo DaVinci, says, “Almost no one claims to get their best ideas at work.” Well, duh! We’ve all been there—sitting at our desks, staring at the screen, hoping that the third can of caffeinated soda might do the trick or vowing to play just one more game of solitaire before we get back to writing that report!

Studies confirm Gelb’s hypothesis: our best ideas come in bed, bath, and on the bus. In other words: while lazing around, lingering between sleep and waking; near water; or on a moving vehicle.

Next time you feel stuck with your writing, change your location. Find a coffee shop, a bench in a park, or even a beach blanket to work on. Here’s where some famous writers have worked:

  • Mark Twain wrote his books in a gazebo.
  • Thriller writer Sheldon Rusch wrote most of his first novel, For Edgar, in a Starbucks.
  • L. Frank Baum wrote many of the Oz books at the Hotel del Coronado, looking out at the Pacific Ocean.

  • Tool 3: Work Around the Block

    I once worked with a student who was having a difficult time completing papers. When she got stuck, she would abandon the project and take a nap or surf the net. We worked out a strategy that supported her in making progress toward finishing the paper when she couldn’t write. She looked over her list of small steps that needed to happen before the project could be completed and highlighted all of the steps that were different from writing: research, creating a bibliography, completing an interview and fact checking. She agreed that the next time she got stuck with writing, she would work on one of these other tasks. Doing that relieved her writing anxiety and, when she came back to the writing several hours later, she was able to do the work.

    Next time you’re blocked, dig into another task related to your writing project. Edit a previous chapter, create the resource list, or do research. Sometimes in the middle of editing or researching, the block will break and you will know what you need to write next.

    Tool 4: Write What You Know

    When I interviewed Dr. Caroline Silby, author of Games Girls Play: Understanding and Guiding Young Female Athletes from St. Martin’s Press, she confessed that she does not define herself as a writer. When I asked her what she managed to do to write a book, she said she focused on writing what she knew. Good advice!

    When you get stuck, ask yourself: What do I know? Write your answer. Keep asking and answering that question until you have written down all that you know. Afterwards, you can rearrange the parts so that they sound good!

    Tool 5: Mind Map

    When I face a challenging chapter or article, I mind map. I write the topic in the center of a large piece of paper. Radiating from the word, like spokes on a bicycle wheel, I write categories of thought: stories, images, themes, examples, facts, statistics, and so forth. By the time I get all of my ideas on paper, I have my answer. The chapter structure emerges organically from the mind map.

    I used this process when I was working on my new Web site. I used it to outline every chapter of my book, A Generous Presence. I also use it when I have a difficult life decision to make. Mind-mapping works because the process mirrors our thinking process—radiant instead of linear. Try it.

    Tool 6: Get Help!

    “I can do it myself!” I must hear that phrase a hundred times a day from my young daughter. It doesn’t matter what the chore—putting on shoes, getting a drink, washing her hands—she wants to remind me that she is more capable than I give her credit for. Still, she still yells, “I need help!” from time to time, too. No matter how big we get, we all need help.

    When we get stuck writing, we can't always see why we are stuck and we often cannot see the way out of the mess. Another person's point of view can move you toward solving the situation. Here are some suggestions for getting outside help:

  • Research. If you’re stuck on how to do something—like how to write a query letter or structure a book or what kind of tone a business letter should have—often the solution can be in seeing how someone else solved the problem. When in doubt, look it up!
  • Get a second opinion. When I got stuck writing that coaching book, I asked friends what they’d most like to read about. They gave me a list of topics and freed me from my block. When a client got stuck writing his book proposal, he had me read it with an “agent’s eye”. As an outsider, I could point out the places in his proposal where he needed to add more information. Block solved! Find a trusted colleague or friend to look at your work and point out the places where they’d like to hear more.
  • Create a research and development team. My colleague Susan Lang and I were able to write the book, Welcome Forward in less than two weeks because we spent the first three days of the process with a group of experts. Our research and development team gave us all of the information and anecdotes we needed to create a good product. Since then, I’ve used research and development teams to write other books, create a new business and navigate difficult life changes. I’ve seen my clients make use of them to solve budget crises, confront conflict, and practice visioning.

  • Tool 7: Write Anything!

    When my children were little, I learned that the more they slept, the more they slept. It works the same with writing. If you are feeling blocked or scared, write something. Write anything. Because, the more you write, the more you write. Here are some ideas:

  • Do morning pages—three unruly pages about whatever pops into your head.
  • Write about your future dreams and goals with the help of Henriette Ann Klauser’s book, Write it Down, Make it Happen.
  • Do a writing exercise. The Teacher’s Corner (http://www.theteacherscorner.net/daily-writing-prompts/) offers helpful daily writing prompts.




  • About The Author: Shop Amazon - Top Gift Ideas
    Right Now! Coach Rochelle Melander supports people in writing to transform their lives and businesses. If you’re ready to establish credibility, make more money, and market your work by writing a book, blog, or Web site, get your free subscription to her Write Now! Tips Ezine at http://www.rightnowcoach.com

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    Internal ID: #6392
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    Total Views: 3279

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