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054: 10 Best Practices to Quickly Overcome Writer’s Block

10 Best Practices to Overcome Writer's Block

One of the worst feelings in the world for a creative person is having some version of writer’s block.  Blogger, poet, author, painter, podcaster, student, business owner, or entrepreneur; your preferred creative medium doesn’t really matter. We’ve all had to overcome this beast at one point or another.  In fact, I’m working through a pretty stubborn block as we speak so I decided to lean into the problem and share with you my 10 Best Practices to Quickly Overcome Writer’s Block.

(Hint: #10 is to create a piece of content about overcoming writer’s block…but SHHH! Don’t tell anyone.  I don’t want to ruin the surprise)

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Voices of Black Business Show Notes

**Click any timestamp to jump directly to that point in the episode.**

Today’s Voice of Black Business: 10 Best Practices to Quickly Overcome Writer’s Block

I Had Big Plans to Do Great Things

[08:30] Have you ever had one of those weeks that started out great but by Tuesday, everything was completely off track.  That’s exactly what just happened to me. I just knew this was going to be a productive seven days. I had plenty of appointments but not so many that I felt overwhelmed.  I was ahead of schedule on releasing a few key pieces of solid content. Most importantly, I had blocked off the first two days of the long Labor Day Weekend to create and publish back-to-back podcast episodes to give my listeners plenty of content that would carry them through the holiday and into next week.  I was sure I had it all lined out, but Murphy (with his stupid law) had me dead in his sights!

Suddenly It All Went Downhill

[13:30] Saturday morning, a technician came to my house to upgrade our internet package from 40mb to 1gb speed.  The process went smooth enough and my internet was blazing in no time. As soon as the tech left, I began the process of connecting all of our devices to the the new Wi-Fi network.  For my office desktop PC, I had the brilliant idea to connect it directly to my Wi-Fi range extender via ethernet cable to create a more stable connection. When I moved the PC to access the ethernet port in back, I somehow pulled one of the video cables which caused a disconnect inside the PC.  The motherboard completely stopped recognizing my graphics card. Fifty troubleshooting attempts and 14 HOURS LATER, I managed to get the motherboard to read the graphics card again.  Great! There went Saturday.

The Final Straw

[16:35] It’s cool, I may have lost Saturday, but Sunday, I’m goin’ in!  NOPE! Sunday, I’m goin’ OFF! As in, the internet customer service because their defective “top-of-the-line” modem stopped working overnight!  I had NO internet, like NONE. And you guessed it, there are no techs on call or stores open on Sunday…and Monday is a holiday. No internet until TUESDAY…and the tech tried to tell me I they couldn’t get a modem to me until WEDNESDAY!  Oh, that was IT! I was done! Escalate me to a MANAGER NOW!

From Resolution to Writer’s Block

[21:45] After securing an early Tuesday morning tech appointment and guarantees of bill proration and credits I reconnected my old, slightly slower (and I do mean slightly…could have done without the new modem in the first place…😠😠😠), modem and was back online in no time.  Everything should have been all good, but the stress of it all completely stole my energy to create.  There’s plenty of work to do, and I had all the tools available to do it but my head and heart just weren’t in the right state to create.

Why Does Writer’s Block Happen?

Usually, creative blocks are caused by negative emotions.  These can stem from a variety of circumstances, including:

  • Feeling overwhelmed by a pile of work and deadlines
  • Self-doubt or low confidence in your ability to create good work
  • Perfectionism, which is often just another manifestation of self-doubt
  • Frustration due to an endless string of distractors (This is definitely where I fit today!)

The best ways to overcome these barriers are to either:

  1. Lean into what you’re feeling in the moment and write or create something that gives those emotions a place to escape and live.
  2. Do something, ANYTHING that brings positive thoughts, emotions, and energy back into the forefront of your psyche.

The examples in this list are my best practices for overcoming writer’s block, but they may not work for everyone.  Hopefully you’ll find a few that help get your creative juices flowing!

10 Best Practices to Quickly Overcome Writer’s Block

  • [29:25] Have a productivity process in place
      1. My favorite is the Kanban Board
  • [31:20] Crowdsource ideas, inspiration, and content
      1. Social media is a great place to do this
      2. Pose a question to your followers and engage in a conversation around your topic
  • [33:10] Outline / Mindmap your content ON PAPER
      1. Some of us conceptualize through images and relationships
      2. Others prefer to work through words and hierarchical structure
      3. In either case, building a written mind map or outline will give you the framework for a great piece of content
      4. Visit these great resources to learn more about mind mapping and structured outlines.
  • [36:40] Do a physically productive thing
      1. Mow the lawn, work in the garden, fold clothes, etc.
      2. The feeling of wasting time sometimes compounds the effects of writer’s block
      3. Complete other important but mindless tasks to get the emotional boost from feelings of accomplishment
      4. Have your idea journal handy
  • [39:55] Do an emotionally or spiritually fulfilling thing
      1. Meditate
      2. Take a ride through your city
      3. Go on a walk or jog in nature or through the park
      4. Have your idea journal or some method to capture flashes of brilliance with you; trust me, you’ll need it!
      1. A good podcast episode can inspire you to take action and…
      2. It may even give you step-by-step instructions on how to accomplish your goal
      3. You may opt to read a blog or watch a youtube video to get the same effect
      4. The advantage to podcasts is that you can listen to an episode WHILE doing most of the other things on this list!
  • [43:50] Break your task down into micro-units
      1. Use Kanban (mentioned above) or a similar technique to organize and prioritize your micro tasks
      2. Attack these one at a time until the larger task is complete
      3. Repeat these steps as necessary anytime you need a quick productivity boost
      1. Stay home, go to the gym, take your pet for a walk, or try something different
      2. Just do something that gets your blood moving and the adrenaline pumping
  • [47:15] Spend time with friends or family doing something fun and mentally engaging
      1. Conversations, card games, and board games are great short-term distractors that actually stimulate creative thought
      2. Enjoying any of these with close friends or family layers the benefits of positive emotional response on top of mental stimulation
  • [50:05] Write an article or do a podcast episode on how to overcome writer’s block!
    1. I told you it was coming! 😂😂😂
    2. Seriously, as soon as I recognized that I was in the midst of a mental block, I took these key steps:
      1. Grabbed my sticky notes pad and a pen
      2. Began writing down known tasks that I need to accomplish for the coming week – first in line was to produce a podcast episode – decided it should be about overcoming writer’s block, since writer’s block was the only thing I was able to think about at the time ANYWAY!
      3. Posted my stickies to the Kanban Board, then moved my podcast episode note into the “In Progress” column
      4. Posted the following question to social media: “What are some tricks you use to overcome writer’s block?”
      5. Started writing my outline for the post while engaging with followers who responded to the question
    3. So, did it work? Did writing about writer’s block help me defeat writer’s block?  Hey…you’re reading this, aren’t you?!?!?

Game. Set. Match.

As I mentioned earlier, writer’s block (and most other forms of creative mental blocks) stem from some form of negative self-emotions.  You can lean into them and create or replace them with positive vibes and create. These best practices always work well for me, but they may not be for everyone.

Leave a comment and share your favorite tips for beating writer’s block and living your most productive, creative life!

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