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.