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As a writing coach, it hurts me to see writers give up on their dreams because they listen to their inner critic or hit writer’s block. I’ve been there.
I started writing when I was thirteen. I loved writing and struggled with it like everyone else. But through love and almost daily practice, I discovered the joy in it, and since then, I cannot help but share this joy with anyone who would listen. Writing is not easy, but it doesn’t have to be so hard. It can be enjoyed.
If you are feeling stuck and want to fly again in your writing and your life, I hope that my new book 7 Minutes to Freedom: Simple Writing Meditations to Liberate Your Writing and Your Life will help you quiet the voice in your head, lose the self-doubt, and write to your heart’s content!
You can use the simple and powerful meditations in this book to learn exactly how to:
- Overcome writer’s block and develop your authentic voice
- Quiet your inner critic and build a joyful daily writing practice
- Abandon limiting beliefs and self-judgment and unlock your creative potential
- Reconnect to parts of yourself you’ve neglected and much more…
If you’re curious, you can download a 55-page excerpt from my website.
But for now, I’d love to share with you 5 easy ways to overcome writer’s block. Hope they do the trick and help you get back to your writing goals today!
1. The Most Powerful One. Be Consistent!
I only write when I am inspired. Fortunately, I am inspired at 9 o’clock every morning.William Faulkner
Let’s start with the single most powerful writing secret, shall we? Here it is. Build a daily routine! This is it. Don’t underestimate its power. You can’t imagine its benefits until you try. And once you try, there’ll be no going back.
No one in this world—besides you and your writing coach—will help you protect your writing time. So, plan it, schedule it, book it in your calendar, treasure it, protect it with your life, and say NO to any requests that interfere with your scheduled writing time. You can help your children, neighbours, spouse, and stranger’s right after you’re done with your daily writing. And guess what, chances are you will be a better parent, neighbour, spouse, and friend when you finish your writing goals for the day.
There is nothing more precious than that elusive writing momentum. Your writing time is sacred! Believe me. Or don’t believe me and try it for yourself. Set your daily goal in pages or minutes and honour it. I recommend writing first thing in the morning, but you know yourself best! So, whatever time of the day works for you, set aside some writing time, whether it’s four, five, or six days a week. I don’t recommend seven, but you are welcome to test it out for yourself.
At first, set your goals low. Don’t put too much pressure on yourself. Set one goal in minutes – for example, to write for thirty minutes a day, and another goal in pages or words – say, to produce one page or 250 words a day. If you write a page every day, by the end of the year, you will have 365 pages.
Each page is only two paragraphs, or two ideas. If you can write two paragraphs in ten minutes, then you’re free for the day. No guilt. No unfinished goals. You’re free to play, enjoy the day, and dream about your writing session tomorrow.
You might even feel hungry to write something else. By all means—continue to write! But you will write feeling like a champion who has not only met but exceeded their goals for the day. Just feel the difference between “I can’t get anything done” and “I’ve met and exceeded my goals for the day and cannot wait to return to my work tomorrow!” But I think you already know.
And if the writing just isn’t happening today, stay with your work for the scheduled thirty minutes and try freewriting, outlining, taking notes, asking questions of your draft. Do anything with self-compassion and curiosity, and don’t add any pressure. And at the end of the thirty minutes, you are free for the day.
Tomorrow, you’ll be back for another scheduled writing session, and the day after tomorrow, as well. Having a daily routine removes the stress and builds tolerance for the ups and downs of the writing process that are, well, inevitable. The daily routine will not allow you to psych yourself out for days. It alleviates a lot of the writerly stress and guilt. Hope you try it out. And the more time and attention you give to your work on a regular basis, the better your relationship with your work will become.
2. The most important one. Be Brave, Kind, and Patient, and Embrace the Mess!
There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.Ernest Hemingway
Writing is not an easy task. It’s rewarding and inspiring, but it’s not easy. So why make it even harder? Be brave to say what you feel and believe and share it with the world. Lose your armour and stand there naked and be willing to be exposed, judged wrong, and thoroughly misunderstood. All of it.
It all comes to one question that a wonderful scholar of writing Peter Elbow so eloquently articulated: “The question for writing then is this: how long are you willing to be unheard?”
Be Kind To Yourself!
Remove all unrealistic pressures and expectations. When you sit down to write, you don’t have to think, “I need to create a perfect book!” You won’t write a single word.
At this moment, all you have to do is put down one word. And then another. And then two and three more. Hopefully, they make a sentence. Treat each sentence as a thread you pull on to see a bit more. Stay with your words and sentences. Stay with your ideas, your feelings.
Don’t leave the page to go off building imaginary castles made of stacked bestsellers towering over your desk threatening to crush your productivity in this moment.
And as you’re working, watch out for those unhelpful thoughts that pop up every now and then to stop you in your tracks. I could write a separate book on this subject, but for brevity, I’ll just say, keep a list of those thoughts that make you stop writing and make you doubt yourself. Every writer hears these, but they don’t have the power to stop you if you don’t believe them. Make a list and next time they come, just note them and continue working.
Do any of these sound familiar:
- I don’t know what I’m talking about
- I will never get it done
- I’m not a real writer
- Who will want to read this?
I promise that if you make a list of your favourites, they won’t be able to sneak up on you and cause a writer’s block.
Embrace the Mess!
Create a new file and call it Current Ideas or Messy Words. Call it something that intentionally signals “imperfect”. Give yourself permission to play and freewrite. Put some words on paper. Write about your book. Write why it’s important.
Just start anywhere because guess what, writing has a momentum, and once you start, you’re already in the writing mode. More thoughts and ideas will come, but not if you sit there and wait for a perfect sentence.
As Margaret Atwood said in her famous quotation, “If I waited for perfection, I would never write a word.”
Accept the ups and downs of the writing process. Yes, you will feel inspired. At times.
And at other times you will feel like quitting and deleting your file or burning your paper drafts. Guaranteed. I know, I know. I might be just a bit dramatic here. I tend to anyways—just ask my husband.
But as a writer to writer, it’s not an easy journey, and the terrain is not flat at all. But if you know where you’re going and what’s at stake, you will persevere and tolerate the ups and downs. Why? Because it’s worth it!
I leave you with this beautiful quote by one of my favourite authors, Richard Bach, and hope it inspires you as much as it inspires me: “A professional writer is an amateur who didn’t quit.”
This post is an abridged version of the FREE 10-page handout you can download from my website. Here’s a short summary of the remaining ways.
3. The easiest one. Be creative and take your first tiny step right now!
When you set clear and immediate goals, there is zero pressure. Try this question,
“What three things can I do in the next five minutes?”
Do you feel any pressure in this? Are you excited to challenge yourself to get three things done in the next five minutes? Me too! So, for me, it could be “create a new file, name it, copy and paste two paragraphs that need editing.” Easy, right?
And guess what, once you get these three done, you will get the momentum going already, so you won’t stop.
4. The most overlooked one. Connect!
Writing can be a lonely process, but it doesn’t have to be.
Anyone can serve as your accountability system: a friend, a coach, a colleague, your spouse or a sibling. Tell your grandma about your book.
Hire a coach to set your goals and clear every obstacle that comes up to sabotage your success. Look together. Using their experience, the coach can help you see those subtle ways in which you secretly sabotage yourself.
5. Get inspired!
If your writing just isn’t flowing, you can do a few simple things to reset and get inspired. Some of them you can manage by yourself, and some may require help from others.
Go back to your Why. Do you remember the moment you first thought of writing this book? Why did you want to start it? What inspired you then? What started the fire? What would it mean to you to finish it? To share yourself? To challenge yourself and find out your own strength and courage?
Below, I summarize the five easy ways to overcome writer’s block. And yes, they all come with exclamation marks because they all require courage, and I believe in you!
- Be consistent!
- Be Brave, Kind, Patient, and Embrace the Mess!
- Be creative and take your first tiny step right now!
- Get inspired!
I hope you never stop writing. Remember, writing is a form of flying! Natalya
Guest Post By Natalya Androsova
Natalya is an award-winning writing and dissertation coach with over two decades of experience teaching writing.
Her passion is helping writers become more courageous, authentic, and kind to themselves. Through individual coaching, writing groups, and writing retreats, she has helped hundreds of writers to break through blocks and find inspiration, a more authentic voice, and a greater freedom in their writing and their life.
She lives in Toronto, Canada, and when she is not writing or meditating, she loves to play tennis, practice yoga, or sit by the water and cloud watch for hours.
In her own writing practice, spanning three decades, she discovered that beliefs we have about our writing are not different from the beliefs we have about ourselves, so a new way of writing often translates into a new way of living. What was impossible becomes probable and even likely when we learn to write and live without fear.
If you’d like to chat about your writing goals, get in touch today! The initial chat is always free!