5 Tips for Writing When You Don't Feel Like It
A guide to help content writers and creative writers break out of a writing slump and get back to creating great work.
It doesn't matter if you are a content writer, copywriter, or blogger; learning how to write when you don't feel like it is essential if you want to get serious about your work.
But ultimately, there will be days when writing feels near impossible. Perhaps you didn't get a great night's sleep, or your personal life is chaotic. Maybe the words just aren't coming, and you simply feel uninspired. When this happens, sometimes a break is in order.
However, there will be times when you need to get on with the work at hand despite the resistance from your mind.
Professional writers don't have the luxury of waiting for inspiration. After all, inspiration doesn't pay the bills; writing does. Thankfully, there's no need to despair because a few time-tested tips can pull you out of a rut and get you back to typing away at your keyboard.
We often struggle to write because we overthink getting the words right. It's good to care about your prose, but this concern, when left unchecked, can lead to a mental block. Freewriting is an exercise that can help you overcome this.
Without thinking, set a timer for 20 minutes and start writing about anything. Give yourself the freedom to write any old rubbish. If your brain goes blank at the thought of this, write "I can't think of anything to say because..." and see where it leads you. Once the timer is up, read over it if you wish. You might surprise yourself with what you've written. But don't worry if none of it makes any sense. The point is not to create content but to trick your mind into getting into the flow of writing, which you can then use to get back into your work.
Change your environment
Sometimes a change of environment can make a world of difference and alter your frame of mind. This is especially the case if you are used to working at home, where some people struggle to get into the right mindset. Even just walking to your local cafe can tell your brain a change has occurred and that it needs to get into "work mode."
Try using the Pomodoro Technique
The Pomodoro Technique is a handy tool for productivity that breaks your workday into distraction-free chunks. The first step is to find a place where you won't get disturbed. Then, set a 25-minute timer and work on a writing task. Don't allow yourself to do anything but work on that task during this time. Don't check your phone, don't look at your emails and concentrate on your job. Once the timer goes off, one 'Pomodoro' is completed, and you can give yourself a 5-minute break.
At this point, you can walk around, stretch, make a coffee or do whatever you feel the need to do. You will probably want to avoid staring at a screen if you are working on your computer. Once those five minutes are up, set yourself another 25-minute timer and get back to it. Once you've completed four Pomodoros, you can give yourself a more extended break of 30 minutes. Then continue until you feel you've put in a good work day.
The Pomodoro Technique is great for instilling a distraction-free work ethic and keeping track of what you do each day. Of course, you can edit this technique as you see fit. Perhaps you find 25 minutes is too much, or would rather go longer. In any case, remember not to overdo it. Most people don't do more than four hours of focused work each day. So, doing any more than eight Pomodoros each day will burn you out in the long run.
Debunk Your Excuses
Our brain has a funny way of providing us with excuses when we don't fancy doing something. When this happens, don't beat yourself up, as we all do. Have the courage to face up yourself. Here is an exercise that can help you do just that.
First, write down all the reasons you need to get to work, including both internal and external motivations. Perhaps you have a client expecting a finished project tomorrow or maybe you set a challenge to write a certain number of words by the end of the day. Doing this will remind you of your motivations for writing. Once you've done this, write down all the reasons you don't want to write and try debunking each one. For instance, if one of your excuses is that you feel tired, tell yourself you'll get a cup of tea and plenty of rest once you've finished. Doing this might seem silly at first, but it will change your negative attitude into a positive one.
Use a Daily Ritual
No, you don't need to start sacrificing small creatures to the gods of writing. That's not the kind of ritual we're discussing here. Instead, we're talking about the daily routine activities you can use to trigger your subconscious into understanding that it's time for work. This might be as simple as brewing a coffee and sitting down in a particular spot. It might look like doing ten minutes of yoga before writing every day or reading a favorite inspiring quote. Whatever works best for you. The point is not the activity itself but the repetition. Therefore, try to make it something you only do before you start writing.
Final thought: build consistency
Building consistency is the most critical thing for a successful writing career. Of course, there will always be bad days and good days. But, if you can learn to show up and get to work on the bad days, you'll be well on your way to a successful career.
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