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Beat the Block: Disarming the Fear of the Blank Page

Writer’s block isn’t just for writers. Regardless of title, experience level
or industry, it affects us all. Here’s how to smack it in its stupid face.

 

Randy Grubba, Copywriter

By Randy Grubba
Copywriter

Before we dig in, let’s move away from the term “writer’s block.” The phenomenon of finding oneself creatively stagnant doesn’t apply exclusively to writers, or even to “creatives.” It happens at work and in our personal lives. Whether you’re writing, brainstorming, working on a pitch, contemplating the perfect date night or struggling to reply to a client email, here are some tips to beat the block.

 

  • Just do it. Seriously, start writing anything. Even if it’s random words associated with your task. It’ll get you typing and un-blank that glaring white page. Don’t yet concern yourself with perfection. Write first, edit later. The hardest part is getting started.
  • Get up off that thing. Sitting, staring and thinking can be pulling teeth. When the body moves, the brain follows. A walk around the block might be your spoonful of medicine. I know one fella who likes bouncing a tennis ball off the wall repeatedly. Motion is good.
  • Unplug for a spell. If Microsoft Word or an empty email field is burning holes into your retinas, switching to a dry-erase board or simple pen and paper could be the shakeup you need to get the juices flowing. Getting away from the screen also helps distance you from potential distractions like Facebook, email and Game of Thrones message boards.
  • Turn to tunes. Silence is golden, but sometimes it can suffocate. What works best for me are chill tracks with minimal lyrics. The idea is to create a pleasant, distraction-drowning white noise. However, like everything music related, this is subjective.
  • Tap a shoulder. If you’re brainstorming you’re probably not alone. Nor should you be. But even when it’s time for solo writing, designing, whatevering, asking for help can be the difference-maker. They may not have the answer, but that’s OK. The point is to get that ball rolling. Whatever the response, it’s bound to be valuable in one way or another. The person you reach out to will likely be flattered you asked and eager to assist.
  • Don’t get too comfortable. It may seem like a good idea to cozy up on the couch when shooting for a productive work session. For me, I find it a disconnect (buzzword alert). I believe the brain is trained to go deep into leisure mode when you’re stretched out on a recliner or bed wiggling your bare toes. Another tip that may be subjective.

There you have it. Six ways to get going when the going gets tough. Have other advice for beating the block? We’d love for you to share your thoughts by leaving a comment.