Blink. Blink. Blink.
You’re staring at a blank screen and you’re positive that little blinking cursor is mocking you. You had a great idea for a blog post, story, or website copy, but now the words refuse to show themselves.
And as soon as you do manage to get half a sentence out, you think it’s terrible and delete it. You just can’t get this next masterpiece written. Time to give it all up and find some junk food, watch TV, or read a book. Heck, even doing some chores around the house sounds pretty good right about now.
We’ve all been there. I certainly have, usually on a weekly basis. It’s a terrible feeling, but I promise you that it doesn’t have to last forever. I’ve got seven tricks to help you get past the feeling of being stuck and get you back into the writing groove.
1. Turn the Internet off.
Okay, this is probably a no-brainer, but it’s also the hardest trick on this list. If you’re having trouble getting the words out onto the page, the first thing you should do is turn your Internet off. As soon as you get stuck and run out of words, the urge to browse Facebook or Pinterest or Stumble Upon is immediate, and suddenly you’ve fallen down a two-hour long You-Tube hole. It’s better to cut out the option before it becomes a problem. Turn your Internet connection off and just keep writing. While you’re at it, you might as well turn your phone off too.
2. Change the music.
Do you usually write with music on in the background? Try changing it up! Instead of the relaxed downbeat songs you usually write to, play something with a little more energy to it. Experiment with some new age spacey tracks. Give classical jazz a try. Find a chillstep playlist. Play a soundtrack of coffee shop background noise like Coffitivity. Putting some new sounds on in the background can give you new energy and fresh ideas, which leads to more words.
3. Change the font.
One of my favourite little tricks to keep me writing is changing the font. Switch to a fancy cursive font or a tiny typewritten font. Change the font colour from basic black to bright blue. This is a simple switch to keep your eyes fresh and help your mind think of new words too.
4. Turn your screen off.
Fair warning, this trick isn’t for the faint of heart. Turning your screen off while you write means you won’t be able to see what you’re writing. And not seeing what you’re writing means you won’t be able to stop and fix typos, go back and edit, or get distracted because you haven’t found the perfect words yet. This trick is all about just getting the words out of your head first. You can go back to edit later, after you’ve at least got something written down.
5. Freewrite for five minutes.
Feeling like your head is full of other ideas or just cloudy with too many thoughts? Freewrite for five or ten minutes. Before I start writing social media updates or website content for my clients, I make sure I've done some freewriting first. Open up another page or document and have at it for a little while. Freewriting allows you to essentially dump all your brain-junk onto the page, so you get back to your original work with a clearer head and feel ready to write.
6. Do 25 jumping jacks.
Yes, you might a little silly doing this, but when you’ve hit a lull in your writing, get up and do 25 jumping jacks. Or 10 push-ups. Or go for a 20-minute walk. Blast your favourite song and have a quick dance party. Do something, do anything that gets you moving and gets your blood flowing again. Take a quick break from sitting at your desk to do something active for a few minutes, and you’ll find yourself with more energy and stamina to get back to writing.
7. Reward yourself with small snacks.
Another favourite trick of mine is to bribe, err I mean, reward yourself with your favourite treat. Grab a handful of jellybeans, a few squares of chocolate, a small bag of chips, anything that’s small and easy to snack on. Every time you write one hundred words, or another sentence, or bullet point, you get to have a bite. Is this self-indulgent? A little bit. Does it work? Definitely.
Anytime I get stuck when I’m writing, I turn to these little tricks to help me get writing again. On really tough writing days, sometimes I have to use a few of them before the words decide they want to get down on the page.
Next time you’re facing the blank screen and that blinking cursor, try one of these tricks to get the words flowing. Try a combination of these different tricks to power you through your project. As long as you stick to it, you’ll see your new blog post, story, or website copy come to life.
PS: If you like this post, you'll also enjoy 5 Reasons You Should Write at a Coffee Shop and 4 Essentials to Know Before Writing Your Website Copy.