When I sit down to write, a white screen greets me. On it, a cursor flashes intermittently, like a tapping foot, impatient for me to begin. I start to worry—when will the words come out? Will I like them?
Do you experience similar anxiety about writing? All writers deal with writer’s block to some degree. While we can’t promise a magical cure, we can share two practices that help us get unstuck.
1. Approach writing as a process.
Break down a writing task into a series of manageable steps—planning, drafting, revising, and editing. This process eliminates the pressure of needing to write a perfect document on your first attempt.
The planning stage of the writing process will help you sidestep a major cause of writer’s block—trying to write without knowing much about your topic.
Besides thoroughly researching your topic, you should create a main point by expressing your topic and purpose in a single sentence. Then gather a few key supporting points. Jot them down in a simple list or create a full outline. Doing so gives you a road map for your first draft.
2. Turn off your critical thinking (at least at first).
Of course, even the best plan won’t always lead to stress-free writing. Writer’s block can still occur if your creative thinking and critical thinking work simultaneously.
The result is something like this: You get an idea down, but immediately hate it, so you delete it. You try another idea, but your critical side steps in again. After half an hour (or more!), you’ve written 1,000 words, but not one of them remains.
So what's the solution?
Shut off your critical thinking as you write your first draft. Don’t go back and delete. Just get your ideas on the page in an initial semblance of organization, with a voice that represents you well to the reader. If you do that much, you are doing plenty.
Afterward, you can engage your critical thinking and add, cut, rewrite, and rearrange. Know that Write for Business offers many solutions for improving a crummy draft. But first, you need that initial effort! Without it, your writing will get stuck in neutral.
So the next time the blank page stares you down, shut off your critical thinking and free your creative thinking. If that doesn’t work, do some more planning and try again. Your writer's block won't stand a chance.