6 Proven Tips for Getting into the “Write” Mood

By Steve Maurer.I am a freelance writer in Fayetteville, Arkansas. I’ve written for clients from Germany to California, all across the United States and in some small towns.

I’m also a freelance writer who doesn’t believe in writer’s block.

More specifically, I don’t believe in that mythical, wraithlike ogre that sucks the life and soul from a writer, rendering him impotent, unable to put words down on paper or screen. Yes, I still have challenges; I just don’t believe that true writer’s block exists.

The reason is simple: I can talk.

After all, writing is nothing more — and nothing less — than the written record of a conversation, whether it’s a speech or a dialog, spoken or unspoken. If you can talk, you can write.

I believe that what some folks call writer’s block is simply the result of a lack of confidence or a lack of motivation. Here are six proven tips I use to get into the “write” mood.

1. If You’re a Writer, Call Yourself a Writer

Go back right now and reread the first paragraph of this post. Go ahead, I’ll wait for you.

Ah, you’re back. Did you see the answer to the confidence problem? It’s in the first five words of the very first sentence: I am a freelance writer. A ton of material has been written about speaking things into existence. It’s powerful. The concept of visualization is often used in sports to improve athletic skills.

Writers are no different. If you’re going to be a writer, then call yourself a writer. Go ahead, say it out loud: I am a freelance writer!

New writers start out excited about making a living with their words. However, doubt sets in and confidence wanes, smashing their dreams to pieces.

I know. This is one hurdle I had to clear myself.

Start calling yourself a writer at every opportunity. Get some business cards that say so. When people ask you what you do, tell them you’re a writer. Hey, they won’t laugh; they—ll believe you. In fact, they—ll probably ask what you write. If you still have job, mention it last, if at all. The more you call yourself a writer, the easier it gets.

And you’ll begin believing it as well!

2. Start by Writing Something Fun

Sometimes you’ll get up and tell yourself that you don’t feel like writing. What you probably mean is that you aren’t ready to get started on your paid writing gigs. No problem; start by writing something fun!

I’d recommend that every new writer start a blog on something they enjoy. I have blogs on gardening and computers, two of my passions. I get up every Monday morning, go out to the garden, take some veggie photos and then usually write a blog post. This gets my creative juices flowing, and viola:

I’m in the mood for words,
simply because they’re near me!
Funny, but when they’re near me,
I’m in the mood for words.

(Sorry about that; I’m an old song buff too.)

Sometimes, I’ll get really sneaky. I pull up several documents that need written, and then I’ll open up my browser in front of them. I write the blog post and when I close the browser the articles are there, waiting for me.

For new writers, there’s an added benefit in having a blog. I post on one or the other of my blogs once a week. That comes out to 52 articles a year. If you don’t have clips yet, use these posts. In fact, the back of my business card says this:

Take a break and visit these sites for some of Steve’s writing samples.

The computer site and gardening site addresses are listed so the reader can go there and check out my writing.

3. Don Your Writer’s Clothes

Business coaches tell you to dress for success. This carries over into freelance writing as well. I enjoy working from home because I can work in my, uh, pajamas. That doesn’t mean I should, though.

I have four nice shirts and a pair of penny loafers that constitute my writing wardrobe, along with a pair of nice jeans, of course. When I wear them, I’m magically transformed into Super Writer-Man. Try it yourself. Sounds corny, but it works.

(Cape not included.)

4. Create a Place for Your Writing

Create an office for your writing. It could be a spare room in your house, or as simple as a corner of the living room. Teach yourself, and your family, that when you’re in your “office,” it’s writing time.

We converted our carport into offices several years ago. My office holds my computers, books and other writing paraphernalia. Mary’s is a combination sewing/laundry room for her seamstress business. When I’m off to write, I let her know that I’m going to “the office.”

Remember the part about visualization, speaking something into existence? Even if it’s just a corner of a room, start calling it your office. Make it hallowed, sacred ground: “Creativity lives here.”

Before long you’ll have a real office, if you want it.

5. Set a Time for Your Writing

Having an established time (or times) for your writing helps, but keep some flexibility. In fact, you might find that you’ll break up your schedule into movable blocks of writing time. You can’t do that with a job, but you can with your writing.

My first block usually starts around 4:30 in the morning. I’m an early riser, so I write while the rest of the household is still asleep. Around 6:00, Mary wakes up and starts getting her child care brood. I take a break, eat a little breakfast, play with the kids, maybe take a shower and then get back to writing.

The rest of the day sometimes varies with the activities we have planned. If I’m in the zone, I might be researching and typing all day. Sometimes the evening works out better for writing. I’ve often taken my laptop out under the stars to our picnic table and written deep into the night. By the way, a fire-pit adds terrific ambience. I know; I’m a little weird.

That brings us to the last tip.

6. Change Your Location to Change Your Mood

Sometimes you can get out of a writing slump by changing your setting. Like I said, the picnic table in the yard is my outdoor office. However, I’ve traveled to other exotic locations as well: various McDonald’s diners, the Village Inn restaurant across town and the Fayetteville Public Library.

All right, they all have free Internet access, but there are other reasons too.

A change of scenery often sparks creativity. Watching people going about their daily activities gives you a different perspective than sitting in your office all day. In fact, it just might give you some ideas for spec articles.

For example, we were traveling back home from Indiana last week and stopped at a diner in Missouri. I had my laptop out to check email and do some writing. A guy in the booth across from us had his computer out too. We chatted about computers, and soon I asked him if he was from around there.

It turns out that he’s a professional griller, commissioned by a major food brand. He was on his way to cook for a charity event. Hmm, article idea there? Not only that, but it turned into an impromptu interview and I got the contact information for the company. People love to talk about themselves, so start asking questions!

Delicious; a burger with a side order of ideas!

Now, Get into the Write Mood!

Use these six tips to forever banish the writer’s block ogre. You are a writer. You wouldn’t be here if you weren’t. I know you’re a writer; you said so. Remember?

Now it’s time for you to believe it too!

Steve Maurer is a freelance writer in Fayetteville, Arkansas and a member of The Freelance Writers Den. A bit of a computer and Internet nerd, he has been writing copy for the Web since 2001, both casually and professionally. You can contact him at http://www.maurer-copywriting.com.

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57 comments… add one
  • Great advice, Steve. Did you know that Joel Saltzman has written a great book titled If You Can Talk, You can Write. A great book for any newbie writers who are worried about writers’ block.

    • Hi, Daphne!

      I happy to hear that you liked the post!

      I haven’t heard of the book but am really interested in reading it. Is it available on Amazon? Even old dogs, like myself, can be taught new tricks. I’m sure you already realize that writers need to be readers as well.

      Thanks again and have a great day!
      Steve

      PS. (they always read the PS.) I took a look at your site and it appears I need to spend some time there! Good stuff!

  • Steve, what a great post! I think that “writers’ block” is all too often something more like “writers’ laziness” (though I gotta admit I do suffer from that sometimes ;-)).

    All your tips are spot-on … I think #6 is especially crucial. For me, mornings are my writing time — they’re when I’m most alert and able to focus. Though 4.30am — sheesh! I’m in awe. 🙂

    • Thank you, Ali!

      Joining groups like The Freelance Writers Den and your group, The Writers’ Huddle, have definitely made a difference in my writing and work ethic. If only there was a button to turn off laziness . . .

      That’s not REALLY all that early, is it?

      Thanks again,
      Steve

  • Is the missing #4 “proofread”” 😉

    Sorry Steve, I couldn’t resist. Great post! My husband shares your theories on writer’s block, and given his first novel is out next week I reckon the two of you are onto something.

    • Hi LYG!

      Actually, there’s a funny story behind that. I wrote the orignal post as 7 Proven Tips . . . and submitted it for review. It took me several readings until I realized that there were only 6! I sent in a revision with 6 listed (and some other minor errors), but I guess it got misplaced.

      Good eye, though! You don’t, by any chance, do copyediting?

      Thanks for your comments in any case. Wish your husband the best of success for me!
      Steve

  • Excellent post, Steve. Well-written. Good points. I’ve had my times “on the Block.” Including some confidence and motivation issues. I’ll be trying out some of your sage advice above. Summer in Oregon, with humidity and warmth can rob me of a bit of my macho, such as it is.

    Like the humor too. And your “I’m in the mood…” rendition is classic–and so you!

    • Howdy, Bill!

      Yeah, the heat and humidity can get to us. It’s HOT down here as well, 95 degrees and climbing!

      Thanks for your comments,
      Steve

      • Steve, I’m sorry I put up the wrong post! Well, let’s see if any other sharp readers catch it… 🙂

        • One did so far (Last Year’s Girl) . . . maybe we should have a contest?

          Not a problem! I was never was very good at math anyway!
          Steve

  • I knew my wardrobe was missing something…I need a cape! Or I could just get a Word Girl costume (I have young children who watch a lot of PBS Kids shows…can you tell?)….

    • Yes, the cape is necessary. I, too, watch Word World. That is how I learned to spell dog!

      Thanks for visiting,
      Steve

  • Steve,

    Great post. I’m just now starting to realize the truth about writer’s block — it really is all in your (or should I say my . . . ) head! I’ve been trying to get myself into a writing practice other than journaling so that I can improve; however, sometimes when one is still “blocked” it is a little hard to even know what to write about.

    By the way, I’ve been reading your website and blog too! I enjoy your style.

    • Hello, Bri!

      I am certainly glad that you liked the post and hope that you will find it usefull as well. I also appreciate that you checked out my site and have found my style enjoyable!

      Hopefully, in my half-century plus of life, I’ve come closer to my real style than in the early days. When you find your style, you’re readers will discover your message.

      You will develop your own style soon enough. I have a post coming out in the near future on becoming a “more better” writer and part of it deals with finding you own voice and style.

      I’ve read some of your articles on your site about the “Wild at Heart” farm. I wish you the best in that undertaking. I know it can be difficult, especially when mowers don’t mow and such. But keep at it, work through it and achieve your dreams. And in the achieving, you will find much to write about.

      Turn your journals into lessons to pass on. Learn how to transform the mundane into the unique. In copywriting, one execise is to take a common object, say a #2 pencil, and describe the features of the product and discover the benefits to the user. It’s a simple, but powerful learning tool.

      Hear’s to your continued success in your journey! Tell the Main Man and the Mini-me that Steve and Mary are pulling for them!

      ~Steve

      PS. You might look into The Mother Earth News, a print and now online magazine on sustainable living. It was in its infancy as I was emerging from high school and now is a sentinel on the subject. The site is located at http://motherearthnews.com

      (and they do take written work from contributors . . . hint, hint. Their submission guidelines are here: http://www.ogdenpubs.com/hr/editorial.aspx

      • Please forgive the spelling errors, Bri! No chance to edit here, so ya get what ya get! LOL
        Steve

  • That’s a great set of tips. The other thing that works well for me is to just write something…anything. The key is to start getting any ideas out wether good or not. It’s a lot easier to revise than create so I can come back later and have the simpler task of polishing, deleting, and embellishing.

    If I can’t even get far enough to just write something then I often find it helpful to write a brief statement of what I hope to accomplish or cover. Any bit of scope or plan can be enough to get me going. I recently learned about the concept of writing a logline through a great little book called “Finding the Core of Your Story” (http://phantommoose.com/finding-the-core-of-your-story-the-logline-book/). It takes that concept of a short statement a bit further, which is especially useful for fiction where you need to make sure your story is viable and stay on track.

    • Hi, Doug!

      Thanks for sharing those great ideas. You’re right that it’s most times easier to revise than create. I think that’s where a lot of folks get hung up. They want to create a finished piece right off the bat. Write first, edit later.

      Steve

  • Hi Steve,

    Great advice. Sometimes we writers take ourselves too seriously, and the pressure we put on ourselves builds a block. At least that what happens to me! My best writing comes from when I simply write from the heart – sometimes it makes sense, sometimes it doesn’t. To over-think is to over-edit . . . and then I’m left with half a page, and a headache.
    I stand by your “start by writing something fun” advice. I write a blog for runners, which is my fun project. My novel is my challenge project – which is where I encounter blocks, especially lately.
    I plan to work on setting aside a designated time to write, as I am tired of being a procrastinator – it’s not my style.
    Thanks for the tip!

  • richard in san diego

    I’ve found that I write best a few minutes after I wake up. No other thoughts are cluttering my mind, and I’m not yet stressed by another crazy day! I can look at the previous day’s work with clear eyes.

    • I’m with you there, Richard.

      Mornings work best for me as well. At least most of the time.
      It’s great to look at your work with new eyes, not bloodshot ones!

      Thanks for sharing,
      Steve Maurer
      Maurer Copywriting

  • Excellent tips, Steve!
    Such a relief to see a list “targeted” at us genuine-creatives, instead of cubicle-dwellers!

    Have a great weekend!
    Karen J

    • Hi, Karen.

      Thank you so much for your kind comment! I’m with you. I don’t think I could make it as a cubicle dweller.

      Have a wonderful weekend and the best of writing success to you!
      Steve

  • Maluhia S. summers

    This is the first article that actually “gets me”. I shall follow your website, blogs, etc., as this is the head knock I’ve been searching for. Allow me to wander past Fayetteville to Eureka Springs and Holiday Island. This is my writing haven/heaven, although I currently reside in Honolulu. Thank you for this moment…..

  • Hi, Maluhia!

    Thank you so much for the very kind response. I can see why my neck of the woods could be your writing haven. From the cold mountain streams to the beautiful lakes, glistening in the early morning sun, to the nightlife of the cities, there’s a lot around to stoke your writing fire!

    Thank you for following my blogs. I’ve appreciated writing for Linda Formichelli here. And my personal writer’s site – http://www.maurer-copywriting.com – has started to grow and I can actually track my writing progress each time I write a new post. I look back at the first articles and think, what a goober!

    You might enjoy reading my wife’s sewing website at http://www.marysews.com . It showcases her seamstress business; but she hands out tips as well.

    You might check out http://www.uberflip.com too. I’ve been guest posting for them for over a year now, twice a month.

    Have a wonderful day, Maluhia! And may you always have a love for words.

    Steve

  • Hana

    Thanks Steve,
    I really needed that. I am a fiction writer,and writing my first book plus I had a bad day with a job interview today, and my mood’s been taking up a lot of my writing space lately. I started thinking that bad mood =no writing. But I didn’t think that I should try improving the mood. I needed a good inspiration and your article is really helpful. After finishing writing this comment, I am gonna go read it again 🙂 (probably bookmark it!).
    I especially liked the part about “changing locations” cause I usually do that (i.e. shift from one room to the other in my house).
    Though frankly, I didn’t think about “writer’s clothes” cause comfy clothes are the best, but… I guess you’re right, will try that too.
    And Thanks again
    Hana

    • Hi, Hana.

      Don’t despair! Remember that we control our moods, not vice versa. A good chocolate or ice cream often helps. LOL

      And who said writer’s clothes need to be uncomfortable. Just keep a set that you designate as such and wear them to get into the mood. In fact, as of this writing I’m wearing a very comfortable pair of “writing” slippers – I think their called “crocks.”

      Just now I was going to change locations . . . to the picnic table in the side yard. However, Mother Nature decided to rain!

      Have a wonderful day and keep on writing!
      Steve

  • Alex

    You live in Fayetteville? My sister was stationed at Fort Bragg for like, 3 years.

    • Alex

      Oh yea, and the article was really helpful. Thanks!

  • Bozo Joe I

    This was indeed quite helpful Steve. I came across this after searching ways to get into the ‘writing mood’, as I have a project I’m helping a friend with (he has a good idea for a story, but his grammar/details need some work), and our deadline for finishing the Prologue is tomorrow evening, but I felt rather dull, and not sure what exactly to write next. Basically, I was having trouble getting my mind to cooperate with me. I have also been having doubts about my writing capabilities lately. This was very encouraging and helpful to me, and I thank you for writing it.
    ~Bozo Joe I, Young Writer

    • Thank you, Joe. I’m glad you found the article helpful.
      Wishing you the best in 2015.
      Don’t let your doubts stop you. We all get them, even me. Just work through it and write the very best you can.

      Keep on writing and you’ll succeed.

      Steve Maurer
      Steve Maurer Freelance Writing

  • Steve,

    So many things I like about this article! The one that is the most helpful at the moment, though, as I procrastinate, is:

    After all, writing is nothing more ? and nothing less ? than the written record of a conversation, whether it’s a speech or a dialog, spoken or unspoken. If you can talk, you can write.

    I’m going to go talk myself through the next part of my paper (an anatomy course).

    Thank you!!

    Polly

    • Hi, Polly.
      So glad that you found the article helpful.
      Here’s wishing you the very best of success on your paper!
      You can do it.
      Steve

  • Nice tips. Sometimes it’s just so hard to get started. I especially love the last tip. I find changes of scenery and people watching to be just what I need to trigger creativity.

    • Angela,
      Thank you! The change of scenery really helps me too. Even if is just sitting outside and working on the picnic table.

      Have a wonderful day,
      Steve

  • Writers block is just a paraphrased expression for “making excuses in order to avoid writing” syndrome. The only way one can improve is through experience. The longer we wait, the worse it’ll get. These were helpful tips though. Now I just need to follow them.

    I’d also like to add that research and having a steady reading list is also essential in cultivating ideas. Stay engaged in subjects you care about and eventually you will start to develop a unique perspective. Thanks Steve.

  • Robert BUrns

    Hey Steve! I’ve never actually heard about the “Writers Block.” I did a little researching online (wikipedia) and found that it was basically a “hump” in a writer’s mind that doesn’t allow them to make any type of writing output that appeals to them. I couldn’t agree less. People who believe in this “Writing Block” are putting something in their own heads that doesn’t really exist. In my opinion its either the lack of motivation or just having the trouble of writing something that they enjoy. I’ve loved reading books since I was a little kid. I mainly read Dystopian books, such as Legend by Marie Lu. I am very interested in becoming a writer when I grow up (I’m only 15) so these tips will be very helpful in the future.

    P.S. 6th paragraph, 6th sentence, you need to put “a” between “have” and “job.”

  • Daniel Jones

    Thank you for this, I was literally just thinking that i was not in the mood to write and googled it ((I google everything). I have some unusual habits for writing myself.

    I started writing properly about 11 days ago and i am over 11000 words in to my book. I only write when it is full dark and i like to aim for around 3-5000 words a sitting but i usually end up only writing around 1500-3000 words in a single sitting.

    I have set myself a purposely unrealistic goal of finishing my first ever book in less than two moths, and i was just thinking of how monolithic of a task this is, especially as i am an unpublished writer and I am only 23 which is really young to be aiming to be published.

    Anyways back to the point, i just felt like today i could not write or i could not get in to the mood and this has greatly helped me to gain back some of my enthusiasm that will grow like fire.

    Thank you

    P. S… I am an author, I am an author, I am an author. I will keep telling myself this. 😀

  • jazz

    love your writing tips 🙂

  • Steve,
    Excellent post. I try to adhere to most of these tips. I wear clothes conducive to writing and I tend to start early in the morning. I will try and write something for fun when stuck on tough assignments and I am going to write ‘Creativity lives here’ and stick it on my writing den door. Rule number one is more difficult. See link. http://wordsbywoody.co.uk/what-copywriti…have-in-common
    I am more cautious since the Apple Store incident but I totally agree with the sentiment. Many thanks. Best regards. Sara

  • Dayna Ford

    These are all great tips that I regularly use. I have another that is the best one ever, from a book called Write Your Dissertation in 15 Minutes a Day. The tip: Sit down and look at what you have already written and begin editing. This forces you to read and get back into the story and you will look up and realize several hours have gone by and you have been writing. It is very difficult for writers to stick with editing. If you have written nothing, begin by formatting the document. This causes you to think about how the content will look on the page which then tends to lead to ideas–beginning is much harder than continuing. I can personally attest to how effectively editing makes me start writing. My friends in grad school used this too and it worked terrifically for them also.

    • Love that tip…thanks for sharing!

    • Dana,
      Great tips. I’m going to have to try the editing idea. I guess it probably gets you back into the rhythm!
      Thanks for sharing!
      Steve Maurer

  • Write about things that matter to you – passion is infectious and your readers will catch ahold of it. Tell the world something important.

    • Steve Maurer

      Great tip, Jason!

  • Just read a great article that linked to this one, and thought you may want to thank them: http://boostblogtraffic.com/writing-resources

    • Thanks for the heads up, Sharon! That’s Jon Morrow’s blog. I definitely need to say thanks for the mention.
      Have a wonderful day!
      Steve

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