You’re face to face in a showdown with your worst nightmare…Writer’s Block.
Do you turn and run, wave your white flag, and eat ice cream for the rest of the day?
Or do you stand up to Writer’s Block and wage a war to get back on track, meet your deadlines, and make money writing?
If you’re not prepared for a surprise attack from Writer’s Block, you may fall victim to its most deadly weapon for freelance writers…fear.
Writer’s Block wants to intimidate you, distract you, stress you out enough that you never actually do any writing.
And that’s kind of a HUGE problem if you’re a freelance writer.
If you want to make a living writing, you’re bound to cross paths with Writer’s Block. But it doesn’t have to be a roadblock that holds you back for days, weeks, months or years.
Want to know how to beat Writer’s Block?
Use this arsenal of tools for freelance writers to fight back.
Writer’s Block is an enemy that wants you to fail
Writer’s Block is an enemy that wears a thousand masks and wants you to fail. I’ve suffered under its oppression, and you probably have too.
- What is it, exactly, that persuades you to just check the news briefly?
- Just watch this cat video real quick.
- You’re right, I will work better if I have a little more food, a little more sleep.
- Oh dear, 2pm already? Better just pack it up, and start first thing tomorrow morning…
That’s how Writer’s Block gets you. You eat cake. You check your friend’s social media feed. You do stuff that isn’t really important to you or the success of your freelance writing business.
The closer you get to sitting down at your computer and doing work that actually matters, the more Writer’s Block is hopping and screaming, “Go back! It’s too much for you!”
And you don’t have to let it hold you back anymore. Every profession has its “stage fright.” Writer’s Block is ours. But you can turn that energy back around against itself to propel you forward with an arsenal of weapons.
The tactical shield of productivity
When you’re dawdling the day away, not sure how to get your priorities straight, just ask yourself, “What am I really afraid of?”
Guaranteed: At the top of the list you’ll find the thing you’re most responsible for, that has the most riding on its success like your own marketing or an assignment deadline.
Doing this takes a little self-observation. A few moments of honest reflection will show you the times you’re most physically and mentally prepared to meet this monster head-on. It’s a tactical shield of productivity that will help you get your writing done.
Tip: It doesn’t really matter whether you’re an early riser or a night owl. What does matter is that you carve yourself a fortress of solitude at the time of your choosing. Build the walls high. And when you’re in there, let nothing clamber over. Make it clear to everyone in your life, including yourself: “No trespassing!”
Tech tools to ward off Writer’s Block
It’s true the internet sets you free. But if freedom for you means “Lemme just watch one more funny video,” then you’re better off back in the cubicle, chained to a company server that blocks all your favorite websites during work hours.
Every time you make a little progress, Writer’s Block will encourage you to “take a quick break.” Stop! That’s the worst trap of all. Five minutes has a way of becoming 50 before you even know what hit you.
Another Writer’s Block trap? Fake research. You start by looking up something relevant to your project. And hours later you’re an expert on the Mongol invasions of Kievan Rus in the Middle Ages. Stop!
Tip: Use available apps and utilities like Rescue Time and Cold Turkey Blocker to block distracting websites, unhelpful programs, and even your whole computer if you’re the offline, pen-and-paper type. The trick is to take the option away so that, in those moments when “you feel like you deserve it,” you’ve got no choice but to stay focused on writing.
The roll-around-on-the-floor decoy
Here’s another weapon to add to your arsenal to beat Writer’s Block. It’s called the roll-around-on-the-floor decoy.
The next time you feel like a total failure, unqualified to complete an assignment, or full of self-doubt, fear, and loathing about your writing skills, Writer’s Block will be laughing maniacally. And that’s a perfect time to use this weapon.
Tip: Get off your chair, and roll around on the floor. Kick, scream, cry, curse, and shake your fist at the sky. After a few minutes, you’ll drive Writer’s Block away, and clear the room, and your head, so you can get back to work. Even Carol Tice uses this weapon from time to time, especially the first project for a new client.
The maximum-effort attack
Isn’t the best writing done when you’re not really trying? When the stars align and you’re in your element? When you’re effortlessly watching word after word break out of your misty mind like daylight through clouds?
You’ve got a bit of a fight on your hands to reach that point, but it might not be the fight you’re thinking of. In reality, all of your effort is about getting out of your own way.
You are a writer, aren’t you?
The “maximum effort” you need is all about preparation. After you’ve shut yourself into your fortress of solitude, after you’ve blocked every (mental) escape route, what choice do you have but to keep going forward?
Tip: As a writer, your A-Game comes naturally when you give it space to spread its wings. The final, scariest mask Writer’s Block wears is the empty page, but if you use these tools, it’ll be the one running scared from you.
Win the war against Writer’s Block
Whether you’re brand new to freelance writing, or you’ve been in the business for years, Writer’s Block is always looking for opportunities to get in your way. But you’re stronger, smarter, and faster. And with the right tools, you can beat it.
How do you beat Writer’s Block? Leave a comment below.
Xavier Galindo is a Los Angeles-based freelance copywriter who specializes in B2B healthcare marketing content.