Many of you probably had issues with writer's block one way or the other. You try to write your daily article but instead of the words just starting to flow, you stare at an empty page, your thoughts start to wander and no matter how hard you try, you don't get anything done. I believe this to be a pretty natural thing to happen and even some of the most talented authors out there are affected by this. Sometimes we just don't get into the flow.
In this article I want to talk about why you should still aim to publish daily if you can, give some ideas on how to identify and overcome writer's block, and finally give some advise on when you really just shouldn't write anything.
Photo by Ryan Snaadt
Even if it's sometimes hard to keep it up, writing daily is a great thing to try to achieve. On a personal level, it helps to stay focused and maintain your personal momentum. If you published an article every day for the last 14 days, it's a lot easier to motivate yourself to write your 15th article straight than if you only did 3 articles last week. This is something I was not really aware of when I started to blog. Eventually I realized that I usually was either posting every day or only once or twice a week. Once you get it going, it just feels natural to block some time every day to write your article.
At the same time, writing on a regular basis helps you to build your audience. If you are consistent in what you write, people will start to look forward to your articles. Giving them something to read every day will make them more likely to come back to you the next day. People have a pretty short attention span and there are dozens of sites out there with thousands of talented authors writing about the exact same topics as you do. Slack too much and people will look elsewhere for their daily dose of entertainment or information.
Now that we established that you probably should try to write every day, the even bigger question is what can you do if you don't get anything done? The truth is, there's no single solution that will work for everybody every time. Nevertheless, there's a lot of stuff out there you might want to try. After a while, you'll find out for yourself what usually does the trick for you.
So here are the things that (60% of the time) work every time for me:
Do curation first
This is something that works quite often for me. Usually I write my own article first and do curation afterwards. It's part of my self-reward cycle as I find it to be pretty relaxing to read some articles or listen to a Vlog after I've done my own writing. If I don't find anything to write right away, though, I simply start to curate first. More often than not, a random topic comes up in my head, often times while reading something completely unrelated, sometimes more in a response or to add to another article.
This strategy is probably what helps most for me but it's also somewhat dangerous, though. Do it too often and you start to rely on what others write to come up with your own articles. That's okay every now and then, but it certainly is not what you should be aiming for. You'll loose originality doing so and before you know it, you become a copycat of another author just rephrasing what he already said. For that reason, I try not to overuse this strategy and instead go with one of the other tactics I use.
Keep a list of topics you want to talk about eventually
This is probably something that every regular writer should do. Ideas for articles come in the strangest of times and places. For me, it's often on my way to work or under the shower. Sometimes it also comes up when I try to go to bed. In all of these cases, I try to write the idea down immediately. This serves two purposes: It allows me to stop thinking about it, but it also allows me to start thinking about it again once I have no clue what to write about. Every time I have issues finding a topic, I take out my list (which really just is a simple .txt-file) and go over the topics listed there.
The great thing about this strategy is that all of the topics on that list have already come to my mind at least once, just not at a time where I needed it. So by simply going over the list, I usually find a topic I'm motivated to write about right away. Today, this has been "What you do when you don't know what to write about" because fun enough, I had a pretty stressful day at the office and didn't feel like doing the crypto-gaming article I had planned for today. So I just took a look at my list and found the idea rather amusing to actually write about this exact topic.
Once I'm done with my article, I just remove the topic from the list. I don't organize it, I seldom comment or add anything to it other than a title (which I rarely use in the end). Sometimes there are only 2 or 3 topics on the list, sometimes it goes up to 15 topics. Once I feel like it's getting too much, I usually check the list and just purge some of the topics sitting at the top. Obviously, if they moved all the way up, I'm not very inclined to ever turn them into an actual article.
Turn away and come back later
This sounds like the most obvious statement ever. It probably is, at the same time I've failed to do so more often than I care to admit. I want to write an article today, I have to come up with something. Does that sound familiar? Once you are in that stage, you are most likely going to become frustrated with yourself. Once you finally decide not to write anything, you'll be so annoyed about the situation, that writing something tomorrow will be even harder.
So instead of trying to force yourself to write, just leave, do something else, chores, gaming, walk the dog, what ever. Just do it right away instead of after an hour filled with frustration. This is obviously easier said than done and as I've admitted above, I sometimes still struggle with it myself. My rule of thumb is once I'm done curating and I've checked my list I either start writing right away or move away from the computer. This surprisingly often helped me to come back a short time later and start to write an article with unheard motivation. By simply removing ourselves from the stressful situation, we allow our brain to roam freely, just thinking about random stuff. More often than not, this will lead to a sudden surge of motivation and just the perfect topic coming to our mind.
Don't push it
The above methods work pretty well for me and over the last months, I've written articles maybe on 90% of the days I was able to do so, only skipping the days I wasn't at home the whole day. This still means I've skipped about 10% of the days in which I could have written an article. I feel like it's important to allow yourself to do that every now and then. There are just days where none of the above is going to help. Every now and then I just get out of bed and know immediately that I don't feel like writing today. That's perfectly fine and it's important to just accept it and move on.
Like I've said above, if you try to force it too hard, you will get frustrated eventually and that frustration likely won't go away over night. So instead of getting to work right away the next day, you are pretty likely to continue annoying yourself. This can create a downwards spiral that sometimes will take days or even weeks to get out of again. I've found that if I just accept that I'm not going to write today, I usually never have issues to do another article the next day. At least to me, it's a hobby and not my job (yet?).
And that's all from me for today. What do you do when you have a writer's block? Do you have writer's block at all? Thank you all for reading and see you next time!