Just like we all have to reclaim our “why” from time to time, we all have to reclaim our inspiration, too.
Writer’s block has been a regular companion for some of history’s greatest writers. In other words, it’s normal and it can be defeated.
If you want to stay productive, you need a set of tools to help you tear down blocks when they appear.
What is Writer’s Block, Anyway?
The late writer and journalist Tom Wolfe describes writer’s block as the following:
“It’s the fear you cannot do what you’ve announced to someone else you can do, or else the fear that it isn’t worth doing.” – Tom Wolfe
This is actually a profound assessment in that it addresses both the surface and deeper levels of the block: the general feeling of “emptiness” that we associate with the block and the underlying pressures that can cause it.
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Ideas to Beat Back the Block
So what do you do? Here are twelve idea-starters you can use to unstick your next creative problem:
- Tell a personal story. This almost always works because you harness the power of your own personal narrative. Drama is particularly good if you feel the freedom to be transparent. Conclude your story with a less or takeaway.
- Describe a historical event. Similar to using a personal story, but with the weight of famous events to support it. History is full of great stories, and it’s never a bad idea to read a non-fiction book from time to time.
- Review a book, movie, or software program. This is a great way to share your passions and success. It can also help your readers avoid products or experiences that were not so helpful.
- Comment on a powerful quote. When you find a great quote in a book, underline it. When you see one on social media, take a screenshot. You never know what will make a great post one day.
- Comment on something in the news. This can be something global or something that is specific to your industry. This is particularly effective if you are trying to provide thought leadership.
- Report on an interesting conversation. We all meet interesting people regularly, be it professionally or socially. These conversations are a great source of thought-provoking material.
- Provide a step-by-step explanation of how to do something. When you provide five steps to this, or four strategies for that, people gobble it up.
- Provide a list of resources. You are probably sitting on priceless information that others would die to have access to. Resource lists are a great way to build traffic.
- Answer your readers’ questions. Assume that if one person has the question, so do others. By answering these you demonstrate that you are listening.
- Make a seemingly overwhelming task simple. There is a huge audience for anyone who can make complex things simple. Provide a conceptual model, an outline, or an introduction to something you take for granted.
- Explain the rationale behind a decision. Intelligent people want to know why you do what you do. That is what makes everyone so interesting. You can explain the rationale behind almost any decision you have made, and it will be instructive for others.
- Write a guide to something popular. This is especially good for technology topics—anything where people feel overwhelmed. The key is to assume the reader knows nothing about the topic.
Next time you get stuck, you might want to pull this list out and review it. Sometimes, all it takes is a spark to re-ignite the fire.