How to get over writer’s block

Last week I was running some writing workshops to help people write blogs and articles for their company intranet. One theme that emerged over and over from the day was “How do I get started?”

And that’s understandable. Even professional writers have days when we look blankly at the blinking cursor and don’t know how to write that crucial first sentence.

But over the years I’ve picked up some tricks to stop myself being intimidated by the blank page. Here are some of the tips I shared at the workshops last week.

Do a ten minute write. In her book, ‘Writing down the bones’, Natalie Goldberg recommends setting a timer for 10 minutes and writing as a way to free your mind and get some words down on the page. Don’t edit and don’t worry about punctuation, spelling or grammar. Just keep your hand moving.

Write a ‘shitty first draft’. Aiming for perfection is enough to give anyone writer’s block. Writer Anne Lamott has a wonderful antidote: the shitty first draft. In ‘Bird by bird’, she says that no-one writes a good first draft. The idea is to just crash out your first thoughts on the page so you have something to work with for your second draft.

Don’t write, talk. For some people, something goes wrong between the brain and the hand holding the pen. If you find it hard to start writing, why not record your ideas instead? Use the voice recorder on your phone or a digital recorder and pretend you’re telling a friend about the subject you want to write about.

How about you? Do you have any tried and tested ways to get around writer’s block? Do let me know. And if you’d like to know more about the writing workshops I run, do get in touch.