As I work to market a recently published book, edit and finish a manuscript for another, freelance for a media company with a huge readership, and generate content for my own sometimes I sit and wonder how I can stretch my brain and come up with enough writing ideas to spread across all platforms. Some days even with a deadline approaching, I find myself just not “feeling” what I am working on. I’ll pitch a story idea to my editor, get it approved, but when it’s time to actually start writing it, I don’t like it anymore or I don’t know which angle to write from. I come up with so many amazing ideas on a daily basis, but the hard part is actually writing them and pouring my thoughts out on to paper or on to the web. People ask me all the time how I deal with writer’s block and how often does it happen to me. Honestly, I get writer’s block all the time. Sometimes I have so many thoughts circulating in my brain that I can’t make sense of it. Sometimes my mind is so scattered I can’t focus on one thing long enough to finish it. Writer’s block isn’t the end of the world though. Here’s my process:
1. Assemble my Think-Tank: When I’m stuck on a topic and can’t figure out which angle to present it from, the first thing I do is assemble a think tank of friends and family and generate a discussion around the topic. I seriously value the opinions of others, after all, they are my readers and I want to know what they think. This even gives me the opportunity to write a single topic from several different viewpoints. On “pitch days” for Madame Noire when I find myself stumped on what kind of topics to present, I simply ask what’s trending right now and I ask my think tank “What are some things you would like to read about?” Never underestimate the ideas and opinions of those close to you.
2. Jot Down Keywords: As my think-tank is dishing out ideas and angles, I jot them down in keyword form. Instead of sitting and writing down paragraphs and paragraphs of ideas, it’s quicker for me to just write down words that will help me recall what was said. It’s similar to creating an outline before writing a paper.
3. Sleep On It: Pretty self-explanatory. I literally take in everything I wrote down and think about all the thoughts and ideas that was shared with me and I internalize it all by sleeping on it. Whether I wrote my notes in a notebook or used Notes on my iPhone, I lay down and read over them and think about anecdotes or examples to use before I write. Once I figure it out, I allow myself to sleep with the idea that I’ll wake up with a fresh perspective and definitely energy to actually write my article or blog post. This was a habit I picked up in college around finals when I would pull all-nighters. I found that napping in between studying or after studying helped me retain information better.
4. Write in pieces: Sometimes I’ll know how I want a story to end before I even write it. Sometimes I’ll know what the turning point is going to be before I know the beginning or ending. So I write and develop my stories or post around them and allow the pieces to come together.
As someone who aspires to make a career out of writing, I don’t sweat it if I get writer’s block which seems to be happening more often now that I have so many projects going on at once. I hope you found my strategies to be helpful whenever you find yourself struggling with what to write or how to write it.