How do you solve writer’s block?
Writer’s block! Even columnist and author Dave Berry has it. He admits that at least 30 times a day when writing his humor column, he gets up from his computer to sip his Pepsi to divert his attention when he can’t think of what to write. One day when he reached for the cola, he instead found a coiled snake. He tried barbecue tongs to carry it away, but when it landed in his pool he kept the dance going trying to catch the thing.
As a writer you may think you are blocked because you believe your book or whatever you are writing won’t be significant enough, or since you aren’t famous, your book won’t sell. Or, like Dave, you can’t think of something great to say.
What is Writer’s Block?
To me, it’s just that I’m distracted and don’t seem organized enough with what’s important to write for my particular audience. It’s a signal that my brain won’t focus temporarily. Like Dave Berry, I need a break.
To some of you, it’s like stepping off a cliff and plunging into the abyss. You don’t have all the answers to start, so it becomes overwhelming to even put words to paper.
Why do we have Writer’s Block?
One. We have too many ideas and choices.
We shoot buck shot instead of staying laser focused. Remember men, who focus on one thing at a time? And women, who multitask their whole lives? Here’s one time the men have it right! We need to focus on one thing at a time (hard for many of us crazy ones).
Writers’ Block Tip – write down 3-4 topics you are passionate about. Take some deep breaths for a minute or two to let the #1 come forth. Write on one book or topic primarily and just put new ideas into your “Future Writing” folder. Stay with your #1 book until you finish it. When we don’t finish a project, we feel guilty – and hence more stuck! When you finish your writing project, you feel new confidence, energized, and ready for more.
Two. We get stuck in our fear.
Maybe you’ve heard this acronym? FEAR = “False Evidence Appearing Real.” I took this to heart in the late 80’s and decided to take action instead of staying stuck. I wrote several short business books that included “Small Business Marketing” and “The San Diego Networking Directory.” Along with my seminars, these books sold well.
Our performance anxiety and fear of judgment keeps us from taking that next step. However, we can get direction and skills from a how-to books on book writing, a qualified book coach, or on online groups that focus on helping authors write and sell books. That is, if we are willing.
Three. We usually just start writing.
We don’t have enough information to move forward to write a clear, compelling book. Perhaps we aren’t sure of how to publish our book. Or, we don’t know how to put a chapter together. Book writing information is easily available on the Internet. Do a Google search on “book coaching” and find helpful resources.
Four. It seems an enormous task of time and money.
What most emerging authors don’t realize is that they don’t have to write the “end all, be all” book. It doesn’t need to fit the old model of 250+ pages. Your readers today prefer shorter, to the point, books aimed specifically at them. Yes, you can widen your marketing net later, but when you narrow your focus and choose one focus such as solving one problem for one particular audience, your book writing and marketing will be so much easier. And, you’ll sell more books too.
How to Get Unstuck
One. Warm up!
Writers need to relax, get into alpha state each time before they write. So take deep belly breaths for 1-2 minutes first. Or, hand write something before you commit it to your computer. Or, write a few lines on just anything, so you see print on the screen.
Two. Got the blank page blues? Write a little the day before.
Then, you have a partial page to hook new related information onto. I wrote this article in two sittings because I didn’t like my first introduction.
Three. Switch tasks, but honor a time set aside for writing each day.
If you are stuck in #1 book project, add research stories, or how to’s to the #2 book. If stuck on one chapter, start or work on another one. I recommend not writing chapter one first. Instead, choose the easiest one, the one you know almost by heart. When you finish one chapter fast, you will be confident to write the following ones that you see as a challenge.
Four. Organize your book, both on your computer and in paper folders.
Since you will have many parts to your book, make separate folders so you retrieve your good work fast. We can waste a lot of time looking for files (about 160 hours a year). In that time, you could write another book or 100 blog articles.
To your book folder, add files such as…
- The introduction
- Chapter One and the rest
- Table of Contents with Chapter Titles
- Your Nine “Hot Selling Points.” (pre-marketing strategies)
Five. Start a promotion/marketing folder.
Name one folder “traditional” and another one “online.” Start adding files of promotion information as it comes to you. It may be this article. I advise you include a file with a 5-10 bullet list of your book’s benefits, not features. This is one of the pre-marketing skills that many authors overlook. You need to write out a letter to your primary audience. Put a model of them by your computer. And write for them!
Then, when your book is almost finished, you’ll have your promotion foundation ready to hit the ground running for fast, continuous sales that keep your cash flow going.
Six. Love your topic.
When you have passion for your book, you won’t have many blocks. You’ll be excited to sit down and spend special time each week on it.
Remember, a page a day yields 365 pages a year. If you write shorter books of 50-100 pages, that’s at least 3 books a year! And you can finish one in less than two months.
Reader Challenge – What is blocking you now? Share with us and get some great tips and help!
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