I love writing! I especially enjoy the days when the words flow quickly and easily. There are times where no matter how rapidly my fingers bang on the keyboard they simply cannot keep up with the multitude of ideas swarming in my head. As I type, a smile crosses my face because I know that my words are creative, helpful, and engaging. Yes, writing can be exhilarating! But, then there are days like today–times when each and every word typed requires intentionality and effort. On these days I am not in the zone, the words don’t flow, and writing feels like work. This week, in spite of my best intentions, this blog post did not come easy. And this was after using all of my best tricks.
Over the course of the week, I:
- Carried around an old-school legal-pad and brainstormed as many blog ideas as I could think of.
- I woke up early, brewed a fresh cup of coffee, set aside time specifically for writing…and then sat there staring at that dreaded blank screen.
- I used my own technique of reminding myself that, “Something is always better than nothing” and forced myself to get started. As a result, I have a half-finished blog post sitting in the queue–next week’s topic maybe?
- Finally, I followed a well known writer’s advice to sleep on it. As a student of psychology, I am well aware that our minds actively work even when we don’t. In the past, I’ve found that focusing on a topic a few minutes before going to sleep often leads to fresh new insights in the morning. Unfortunately, this time it didn’t.
This week I was stuck. Which leads to the question, “What should writers and communicators do when they get stuck?” Giving up is one option, but I believe there are much better solutions. In fact, if I’m going to be entirely honest, there are a number of topics that I could have posted on this week. Although this really has been a difficult post to write and some of the more challenging writing that I have done for some time, giving up was never really an option. Ultimately, I decided to write about the process of writing for two reasons. First, I wanted to give you a glimpse into my own writing process, and second, I wanted to encourage others who also find themselves stuck.
If you’re a communicator who sometimes has difficulty in knowing what to say, congratulations! You are normal! If you’re a writer, speaker, pastor, or blogger who posts new content on a regular basis, it’s almost a guarantee that there will be times when coming up with new ideas is a challenge. Producing fresh, new content on a consistent basis is hard work. The key is to keep going in spite of the difficulties. The good news is that the writer’s block and speaker’s block will eventually pass, because they always do. And today, the good news for me is that I did indeed just finish another post. Plus, I now have a yellow legal-pad with nearly fifteen new ideas sitting next to me. Although I’m most certainly not “in the zone”, I know that this too will pass. Today, I’m going to take some time to relax and get re-energized before starting on next week’s post. I’m confident that by this weekend the words will once again come easily. Hopefully if you’re feeling stuck, this is an encouragement to you. Don’t give up! Don’t allow the thought that you are weird, different, or don’t have what it takes to enter your head. Getting stuck is normal. Pushing through the rough patches is what professionals do. It is a skill that is learned, and one that gets easier with practice. So, keep going. Move through the dry spells knowing that soon enough the energy and creativity will reemerge.
Finally, I’d like to end this post by asking for your help. While I firmly believe that the writing will once again come easily by this weekend, there is a small chance that it won’t. And if that happens, I’ll need your support. What are your best strategies for getting unstuck? How do you get the creativity and energy flowing again? What advice would you give to a blogger sitting at his or her desk staring at that dreaded blank screen? How have you overcome writer’s block or speaker’s block in the past? I’d love to learn from you and borrow your favorite time-tested tools.