What to do when writer’s block strikes

This post is for all you authors out there.

Inevitably, in every writer’s life, we are stricken with writer’s block: the agonizing affliction that takes away our inspiration and leaves us with no idea where to take our story. Excuse the unprofessional language, but frankly, it sucks.

If you type into Google, “What to do when you have writer’s block,” the search engine will return 122,000 results for you (and I have no doubt that number is constantly increasing). Clearly, it’s a common plague that even the best writers succumb to, and we turn to Google for a magic potion to turn our blank screens or notebooks back into beautiful pages full of script.

There are many things that can help writer’s block, and I’m going to list a few tricks that have assisted me in overcoming that mountain of writing hopelessness.

Write somewhere new.

Sometimes that’s all it takes. I find I can can get bored sitting within my same old office walls every day. (I can also be easily distracted by the kitchen a few feet away and all the potential food it could provide me…) Whether it’s as simple as moving to the couch or dining room table, or taking drastic measures and driving to the beach or a coffee house, changing your surroundings can do wonders to refocussing your thoughts and finding your words.

Write something different.

This can be hard. Why waste time writing something that isn’t what you normally want to do? Forcing yourself to think about different words can sometimes mean you come back to your passion project with fresh ideas that had time to ruminate in the back of your mind (or maybe just make you remember how much you love your genre of writing). Writing a thriller? Give yourself a goal of writing 500 words of romance. Writing romance? Give yourself 500 words to write the scariest scene you can imagine. Stretch your creativity and see what happens.

Read more books.

The best writers are also the most avid readers. Sometimes it helps to have a reminder of why you’re forcing yourself through the suffering that is writing a novel. Reading a complete and successful book can be a great reminder of the goal you are working towards. And chances are, if you’re a writer, you just love words, and allowing yourself guilt-free time to immerse yourself in someone else’s words can mean you emerge refreshed and ready to engage in your own story again.

Engage in activity.

This one is huge for me. As an editor, I spend my life sitting. This is hard on the body. After a few hours, I begin to get antsy, and no matter how I sit (or where I sit) I just can’t seem to get comfortable. This, of course, cuts into my focus and it becomes a battle to be productive. I’ve learned to take these cues and get up and move! If I have time to go for a run or a walk, you can bet I will be lacing up my running shoes. If I’m on a tight deadline, I will take advantage of my two flights of stairs and race up and down them a few times. The point is to get the blood flowing, the creaky bones greased, and the muscles stretched.

But here’s the biggest secret I can let you in on:

There’s truly only ONE way to get over writers block.

Just write.

It’s painful. It’s like pulling teeth. Don’t worry if every single word you eke out ends up being terrible. Don’t try to type the perfect story. Don’t edit as you write (a bad habit most of us have!). Just start pounding that keyboard and pour those words all over the screen. Whether it’s coherent sentences or fragmented ideas that are floating around in your brain, grab them and bring them into reality.

Before you know it, you will have found the stream of consciousness that leads you back to the words you need to keep writing. The only way to get over writer’s block is to write, and it’s in these most challenging moments that we really grow as writers in self-discipline and creativity.

Why do I need an editor?

Congratulations! You’ve written an article, book, or essay and you’re super proud of it. You should be – it takes a lot of work to wrestle words from your mind and put them onto paper (or screen). You’ve probably read it over dozens of times. You think you’re ready to move forward with publishing.

But wait! Why haven’t you hired an editor? You may think we are just glorified spell-checkers, but that’s not the case. Yes, we fix spelling, correct grammar, and adjust punctuation. But we are also trained to look deeper into your document. Here are five reasons why hiring a professional editor is an essential step to take before publishing your writing.

Because appropriate language is important.

Language refers to the jargon that you might not realize puts a wall between you and your reader. It refers to the colloquialisms in your writing that may be too casual if it’s meant for a formal setting. Editors will also check that your writing is free from offensive language that may be racist, sexist, or otherwise discriminatory. You also don’t want to be sued after you publish your writing, and editors will help guide you if they find any areas that could be deemed libelous.

Because you’re too familiar with your own writing.

It’s an unfortunate truth, but our minds are great at filling in missing information that we know should be there. But just because you as the writer know what you’re trying say, doesn’t mean you’ve actually communicated your thoughts in the most clear and comprehensible way. You need a set of fresh eyes that are otherwise unfamiliar with your piece to help make sure your sentences, paragraphs, and overall document structures are cohesive and complete.

Because you need to ensure your information is accurate.

Editors will check the internal consistency of your document. Did you say your character was 28 years old in chapter one, but 29 years old in chapter eight? If agreed to in your contract, editors can also check research in non-fiction and essays to ensure facts are collected from reliable sources and that all your research provides a cohesive, complete argument to a single conclusion.

Because you can improve as a writer.

Even the best writers are constantly striving to improve their writing. Working with an editor is one way that will help you become a better writer. Editors will notice when you overuse certain words or phrases and can provide clarity on confusing grammar rules or particular style elements.

Because mistakes can cost you.

Ultimately, publishing an unpolished piece of writing that has any errors in spelling, grammar, language, consistency, or accuracy could cost you or your business. This cost may be reflected in lost revenue or damaged reputation. Clients and potential customers are forming perceptions about you and your business the moment they begin reading, and hiring a professional editor will help you publish writing that will leave a positive impression on your reader.