5 Ways to Overcome Writer’s Block Before it Starts

Skip the third cup of coffee and don’t get up from your desk until you have the first paragraph.

A writer sits hunched over his glowing screen. Ergonomics be damned. There’s a deadline in two days. He doesn’t have the best posture, but he’s punching away at his keyboard like a man possessed. He knows what he’s writing about. He knows where to place the right words. He doesn’t know the meaning of writer’s block.

I don’t want to mislead you. The page doesn’t always fill itself with colour. Sometimes (Ok, a lot of times) there’s just the writer, his fifth cup of coffee, a white page, and the blinking cursor. When that happens (and it will), you’ll be glad you know how to overcome writer’s block before it starts.

Create the Optimal Environment

The “optimal environment” is different for everyone. I’m most productive in the morning before lunch and late at night before going to bed. My desk needs to be clear of clutter and I like to drown out any outside noise by playing film scores in my headphones. That’s me. For you, the best time to be productive might be first thing in the morning or in the late afternoon. Maybe you don’t mind a messy desk and Scottish bagpipes playing in the background. To each his own.

Block out Distractions

This rule goes along with creating the best environment for you to be the most productive. Music helps me drown out noise. I put my phone on silent and I won’t check it for an hour. Figure out what distracts you and snuff it out before it takes away from your productivity.

Focus & Discipline

Writing is a discipline. Even Shakespeare pounded his desk struggling to fill a page. It takes focus and commitment to sit at a desk and say that you’re not getting up, not even to go to the bathroom, until you have at least three hundred words written.

Research & Outline

Staying focused and disciplined is easier when your fingers struggle to keep up with your thoughts. Think long and write short. When you take the time to research, you’ll have a lot more ideas to put on the page. You’ll also need an outline to corral those ideas into one cohesive theme. Take the time to research and write an outline. The best writing shows clear thinking on a page.

Get Out of Your Own Head

Sometimes you just have to get out of our own head and write. There are no stupid ideas in the first draft. Writing’s best friend is editing. Don’t worry about the first, second or third draft. Worry about the last draft.

A few months ago, I agreed to write thirty-five articles about the history of different NFL franchises. Each article needed to be a minimum 600 words and I needed to finish five per week. 3000 words per week isn’t a lot, but when you’re working on three other projects, you can’t afford to waste time staring at a blank page. I completed all of the articles on time and ended up writing an average of 3500 words a week for the project using these strategies to overcome writer’s block.

What are you waiting for? Do some research. Create an outline and start punching away at those keys.