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8 Effective Ways To Overcome Writers’ Block

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8 Effective Ways To Overcome Writers’ Block

Writers’ block occurs all the time, and seems impossible to avoid. There are, though, steps you can take to prevent it, sometimes before it even starts happening. Here are some effective ways to kickstart your brain.

1. Write Down Ideas As They Come To You

Not being able to come up with ideas is the worst. You’re ready to write, but you don’t have the engine you need to get rolling. The best way to circumvent this particular brand of writers’ block is to have a lot of ideas already at your disposal. You’re going to come up with ideas when you least expect it, and you should always be prepared to archive them. You can use your smartphone to note your ideas. You can use a a barebones writing app like Drafts to get the ideas down as quickly as possible, and a note taking service like Evernote to compile them for future use.

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2. Commit To Your Idea

Sometimes you might not be 100% confident with your idea, and your indecisiveness prevents you from turning that idea into something tangible. Instead of being productive with the idea you have, you’re spending all your time trying to come up with something better. After a while, though, you stop deliberating and start stalling. If that’s the kind of writers’ block you’re suffering from, just accept that your idea isn’t flawless and start executing it as best you can. The idea isn’t nearly as much the power of a story as the words that tell it.

3. Be Far Enough Ahead To Work On Whatever You Want

A lot of writers’ block doesn’t occur because you can’t write anything. It’s because you’re stuck while you’re working on a particular piece of writing. If you have more than one type of assignment, be far enough ahead in your schedule that you can work on the project you’re most inspired by today. If you do only have one kind of assignment, look to diversify your writing responsibilities so that you can avoid unnecessary writers’ block and significantly increase your productivity.

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4. Break The Writing Process Into Multiple Parts

I didn’t write this article right from start to finish. First, I took some time to wrap my head around the topic. Then I chose sub-headings. After that, I drafted a basic outline. Only then did I start writing. Because of that pre-work, the actual writing was much easier, leading to fewer roadblocks on the path from pen to paper. Make it as easily as possible to avoid writers’ block by doing as much preparation you can before you even start the hard part.

5. Go To Where Things Stopped Working

A lot of the time writers’ block is a subconscious warning that what you’ve already written isn’t working. If you’re experiencing writers’ block, peruse what you’ve already got down and see if there’s a part of it in which you swerved right when you should have taken a hard left. Then go back to that wrong turn and correct your course.

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6. Jump Ahead

Your story doesn’t have to be written chronologically. This article wasn’t. If you’re experiencing writers’ block because you’re not excited about what you’re “supposed” to write next, jump to a point in your story that you are excited to write. As long as you’re careful with your revisions, no one will even notice that parts of your story were written out of order.

7. Turn What You’re Stuck On Into A Writing Exercise

Not sure where your story should go next? Make a list of all the directions your story could possibly take. Don’t worry if some of them are ridiculous; the point is to loosen your writing muscles. Once you’ve limbered up you’ll be ready to rock.

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8. Don’t Dread

Writers’ block is so often rooted in fear. You’re scared that what you’re about to write won’t be good enough, or won’t meet your wild expectations. That dread is debilitating, so get past it by not taking the time to feel insecure. Just start, even if you’re not convinced of your abilities, because time spent stalling is better spent writing, even if you throw all of it out. You’re already at your keyboard, so don’t hesitate to type away.

Featured photo credit: Sharon Drummond via flickr.com

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Matt OKeefe

Matt is a marketer and writer who shares about lifestyle and productivity tips on Lifehack.

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Last Updated on October 21, 2021

How to Create Your Own Ritual to Conquer Time Wasters and Laziness

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How to Create Your Own Ritual to Conquer Time Wasters and Laziness

Life is wasted in the in-between times. The time between when your alarm first rings and when you finally decide to get out of bed. The time between when you sit at your desk and when productive work begins. The time between making a decision and doing something about it.

Slowly, your day is whittled away from all the unused in-between moments. Eventually, time wasters, laziness, and procrastination get the better of you.

The solution to reclaim these lost middle moments is by creating rituals. Every culture on earth uses rituals to transfer information and encode behaviors that are deemed important. Personal rituals can help you build a better pattern for handling everything from how you wake up to how you work.

Unfortunately, when most people see rituals, they see pointless superstitions. Indeed, many rituals are based on a primitive understanding of the world. But by building personal rituals, you get to encode the behaviors you feel are important and cut out the wasted middle moments.

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Program Your Own Algorithms

Another way of viewing rituals is by seeing them as computer algorithms. An algorithm is a set of instructions that is repeated to get a result.

Some algorithms are highly efficient, sorting or searching millions of pieces of data in a few seconds. Other algorithms are bulky and awkward, taking hours to do the same task.

By forming rituals, you are building algorithms for your behavior. Take the delayed and painful pattern of waking up, debating whether to sleep in for another two minutes, hitting the snooze button, repeat until almost late for work. This could be reprogrammed to get out of bed immediately, without debating your decision.

How to Form a Ritual

I’ve set up personal rituals for myself for handling e-mail, waking up each morning, writing articles, and reading books. Far from making me inflexible, these rituals give me a useful default pattern that works best 99% of the time. Whenever my current ritual won’t work, I’m always free to stop using it.

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Forming a ritual isn’t too difficult, and the same principles for changing habits apply:

  1. Write out your sequence of behavior. I suggest starting with a simple ritual of only 3-4 steps maximum. Wait until you’ve established a ritual before you try to add new steps.
  2. Commit to following your ritual for thirty days. This step will take the idea and condition it into your nervous system as a habit.
  3. Define a clear trigger. When does your ritual start? A ritual to wake up is easy—the sound of your alarm clock will work. As for what triggers you to go to the gym, read a book or answer e-mail—you’ll have to decide.
  4. Tweak the Pattern. Your algorithm probably won’t be perfectly efficient the first time. Making a few tweaks after the first 30-day trial can make your ritual more useful.

Ways to Use a Ritual

Based on the above ideas, here are some ways you could implement your own rituals:

1. Waking Up

Set up a morning ritual for when you wake up and the next few things you do immediately afterward. To combat the grogginess after immediately waking up, my solution is to do a few pushups right after getting out of bed. After that, I sneak in ninety minutes of reading before getting ready for morning classes.

2. Web Usage

How often do you answer e-mail, look at Google Reader, or check Facebook each day? I found by taking all my daily internet needs and compressing them into one, highly-efficient ritual, I was able to cut off 75% of my web time without losing any communication.

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3. Reading

How much time do you get to read books? If your library isn’t as large as you’d like, you might want to consider the rituals you use for reading. Programming a few steps to trigger yourself to read instead of watching television or during a break in your day can chew through dozens of books each year.

4. Friendliness

Rituals can also help with communication. Set up a ritual of starting a conversation when you have opportunities to meet people.

5. Working

One of the hardest barriers when overcoming procrastination is building up a concentrated flow. Building those steps into a ritual can allow you to quickly start working or continue working after an interruption.

6. Going to the gym

If exercising is a struggle, encoding a ritual can remove a lot of the difficulty. Set up a quick ritual for going to exercise right after work or when you wake up.

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7. Exercise

Even within your workouts, you can have rituals. Spacing the time between runs or reps with a certain number of breaths can remove the guesswork. Forming a ritual of doing certain exercises in a particular order can save time.

8. Sleeping

Form a calming ritual in the last 30-60 minutes of your day before you go to bed. This will help slow yourself down and make falling asleep much easier. Especially if you plan to get up full of energy in the morning, it will help if you remove insomnia.

8. Weekly Reviews

The weekly review is a big part of the GTD system. By making a simple ritual checklist for my weekly review, I can get the most out of this exercise in less time. Originally, I did holistic reviews where I wrote my thoughts on the week and progress as a whole. Now, I narrow my focus toward specific plans, ideas, and measurements.

Final Thoughts

We all want to be productive. But time wasters, procrastination, and laziness sometimes get the better of us. If you’re facing such difficulties, don’t be afraid to make use of these rituals to help you conquer them.

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Featured photo credit: RODOLFO BARRETO via unsplash.com

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