I am a writer. It’s a core part of my identity. But lately, I’ve been struggling with writer’s block.
And today when I woke up, I knew. I knew that I needed to jump back into it. I was kick of writer’s block kicking my butt.
So I sat down and I wrote a headline. I checked it with the Coschedule Headline Analyzer. Score: 55
I rewrote it. Still 55.
I walked around. And then I realized something.
Writer’s block is real.
I/You can’t just sit down and push through it. We must go in and understand it first. Only then can we lovingly get back to writing.
Here’s why you and I might be battling with writer’s block. And how we can overcome it and get back to work.
1. There’s a truth you’re hiding from.
The worst writer’s block I ever experienced was in college. My senior project (called a Div III at Hampshire College), was to write a collection of poems. I thought it would be the best thing ever. I loved writing poetry and suddenly, all I needed to do every day was write a poem.
Oh boy was I wrong.
I was in a terrible relationship, but I wasn’t willing to admit how unhappy I was. Because I was unwilling to face this nasty truth, I could barely force myself to write.
Writing poetry became torture because of this stuck truth.
Now, coming back to my blog after letting it rest for a few months, I feel some truths hiding in the dusty corners of my body.
Here are the truths that are keeping me from writing:
- I’m ashamed that I stopped blogging for a few months. But I can’t do anything about it.
- I feel such a strong need to write something perfect, something share-worthy, something for my ideal clients, that I don’t let myself write anything. (Even while claiming I’m anything but a perfectionist. Oops.)
- I’m a little burnt out and I’m not sure how to get un-burnt out.
- I shifted my focus away from blogging and now I’m back again, coaching content marketing, and I feel like a weirdo because of it.
- I want to have all the answers. But I don’t.
- I struggle to claim my own expertise.
- I don’t want to get trapped in the stats-hungry approval-seeking always-distracted pattern I found myself in a few years ago, and I’m afraid that if I fully commit to blogging again, I will go there.
- I lost myself in the online content marketing world. Then I found myself. Now I want to go back into it, but how do I know I will keep being me?
There they are. My truths in all of their beautiful (ugly) glory. And reading over them, bringing to light the places I’m getting in my own way, gives me resolve to write consistently again.
In other words, now that I see my enemies, I can destroy them with a stroke of my keyboard. (Or something like that.)
So…if you find yourself stuck and unable to write, list your truths. You’ll probably get the juices flowing.
2. You feel like everything you write has to be perfect.
I mentioned this in my list of truths, but it bears repeating. Because this nasty devil gets in the way of so many writers and bloggers.
It becomes nearly impossible to write when you feel like you need to create something perfect every time.
Your creative muse can’t be heard when your inner critic keeps shouting, “Nothing you write will be good enough, you fool!”
And the sad but amusing truth is that without writing a lot of throwaway posts, it is very difficult to write truly masterful ones.
Without practice, how can you ever expect to master a craft? Even Harry Potter needed to go to Hogwarts for 7 years before he could defeat Voldemort.
Here’s how to get around that perfectionism:
- Accept that you are on a path of continuous growth in your blogging and writing, and the only way to get to the next step is to write something.
- Do another art form where the perfectionism hasn’t taken hold. That will loosen your muscles and remind you that you don’t have to be perfect.
- Make a goal to write a shitty blog post every month. You might be surprised at the great post you write when you sit down to write a crappy one.
- Use the rules of writing practice. They have singlehandedly defeated my need for perfectionism many, many times.
3. You’re out of the habit.
This one is huge for me.
It’s like working out. For 8 years (!) I did yoga 3 times a week, every week. I was addicted to it.
Then I moved away from Denver, didn’t find a yoga studio I loved, and stopped. I’ve gone to 2 yoga classes in the past 2 years. (Slinks away in shame.)
The same thing happened with writing. When I first started blogging, I wrote every day. Then it shrunk to 5 times a week. Then 3. Then 2. Then 1. You get the picture.
One of the reasons I haven’t written a post in a few months is simply because I let blogging slip out of my weekly schedule. But once I sat down to write this post, after shaking off a few cobwebs, I was back in business.
And here’s the thing. I looooove writing. Writing this feels like a big drink of water in the desert.
So when I say to make it a habit, it’s less about painstakingly setting aside time to write, and more about remembering how much you love it and fitting it into your day.
You don’t even need to do it at the same time every week. Just give yourself a number of posts to write each week or each month, and then write them.
You can make it more fun for yourself by creating a writing space, making a delicious drink to sip while you write, or coercing your dog to warm your feet while you write.
Once you start writing regularly, it’s a lot easier to keep going.
4. You’re focusing too much on strategy and not on depth or vice versa.
For some people, blogging is a purely strategic move.
For me, it goes deeper. Way deeper.
When I write something, it has to matter to me. It has to contain some nugget of truth. It has to touch down to my core.
So when I try to write posts that are purely results oriented, it feels really hard. Instead of being a pleasurable experience, it’s like wading through sludge.
But when I just write for myself, without taking my business goals into consideration, it’s less exciting. Because I know my post won’t speak to my clients or bring me business.
That’s why it’s so important to find a balance between strategy and honesty. Between you as a business owner and you as a human.
So when you sit down to write, find a topic that lets you intermingle your expertise with your truth. Choose to write posts that deeply resonate inside of you and that speak to your clients as well.
How do you do this? By knowing yourself as well as you possibly can, and by understanding your readers and clients to their core.
When you are an expert on yourself, your work, and your clients, your intuition will naturally guide you to the post topics that serve you and your people the best. It’s a matter of getting curious and trusting yourself.
And if you don’t know yourself and your clients that well yet, just write the best thing you can. This is a process. Remember that.
5. You are stuck in the comparison trap.
You want to write great blog posts to bring in more clients. So you go into the wide world of the internet, and you find posts that other coaches or therapists are writing. You read them for hours, and then you go back to your blog.
And here’s what you end up thinking: “Shit. How can I write anything when everything has already been written?”
So you close your laptop, go watch Netflix, and put blogging off for another day.
Yeah, that feeling sucks. A lot. I know because I’ve experienced it more than once.
But getting through (or around) it isn’t as hard as you think.
Here’s how you get past the comparison trap:
- Lean into your own expertise and your knowledge of your clients first. You may not be a blogging expert, but you are an expert in your business. Start there. (And if you want to become a blogging ninja, let’s talk.)
- When you see a post you love, instead of feeling overwhelmed or less-than, get curious. Ask yourself how you can improve upon it or write about it from a different angle.
- Take a minute to sit down with yourself and give yourself a huge dose of self-love. Remind yourself of how brilliant and amazing you are. And give yourself a hug. Because the only way out of comparing yourself to others is a deep knowledge of your own worth.
- Focus on learning from your peers instead of comparing yourself to them. What can you learn from the posts you love about how to be a better writer?
6. You don’t trust your voice.
How do you write?
Do you sit down and hammer out an entire blog post, and then go back and reread it?
Or do you bleed out each paragraph and question yourself the entire time?
You may think that the second option makes for better writing.
It doesn’t. It makes for more painstaking writing.
When you continuously stop and question yourself throughout your writing process, you prevent the flow of words from coming out. And as a result, it takes hours or days longer to write a blog post.
Dude. Stop torturing yourself.
When you sit down to write, grant yourself a temporary pass. Tell yourself, “Self, I will trust you for the entire time I am writing this post. I will let the words flow as they will. I will suspend my internal editor for now.”
During the time you write, only hang out with your inner writer, your inner creative. Your intuitive, trusting, loving self.
After you finish writing, you can invite your editor back in to help you polish your post. Don’t worry. She’ll still be available.
7. You expect your first draft to be fantastic.
I’m going to let you in on a little secret. When you finish writing your first draft of your blog post, you don’t have to publish it.
You are allowed to go back and tear it to pieces, rewrite it, rework it, and make it into something way better. Or discard it altogether.
Your first draft doesn’t have to be good. Because no one is going to see it other than you. You can write 5 first drafts in a week and then only salvage one.
That’s okay. At least you’re getting better at writing and blogging.
8. You are product oriented rather than process oriented.
What’s the goal in writing blog posts?
It’s to get more clients, yes. But it’s also waaaaaaay more than that.
In the process of blogging, you…
- Get clearer about how you uniquely serve your clients
- Discover what you care about the most
- Become a better writer
- Build relationships
- Exercise self discipline
- Learn things about yourself you never would have known otherwise
It’s the act of writing that makes all of these delicious things happen.Get out there and write your next blog post. Your inner writer is waiting for you.Click To Tweet
Here are the 8 reasons writer’s block is kicking your butt:
- You aren’t facing some hidden truths
- You are being perfectionistic
- You’re out of the habit
- You’re not striking a balance between strategy and depth
- You’re comparing yourself to others
- You’re not trusting your voice
- You’re not letting yourself write crappy first drafts
- You’re focusing too much on product rather than process
Luckily, all of these things can be overcome through trusting yourself, using your intuition, and knowing yourself and your clients deeply. (A nice dose of discipline won’t hurt, either.)
What do you do to overcome writer’s block? Share in the comments below!