When it comes to writing, people generally fall into one of two camps. There are the people who love writing and do it whenever and wherever they can, and then there are the people who hide under their beds to avoid ever writing anything again. (Ok, I lied. There’s a third, small camp that doesn’t care one way or the other about writing...but they don’t matter here.)
If you’re in the second camp, it’s possible that you’re suffering from a writing mindset block. This block usually manifests itself in thoughts such as
“I’m not a writer.”
“I can’t write.”
“Nothing I write is ever good enough.”
“I have no idea what to say or where to begin.”
“Who am I to write a book?”
Well, I have news for you. You can write, and what you have to say does matter. (As for where to begin or what to say...have you talked to Jodi?) It’s time to move past your writing mindset block. And I have just the way to do it.
Find a Place You Can Work
If you really want to work on overcoming your writing mindset block, then start with where you write. If you’re writing in a place that isn’t conducive to deep thought (the kind that writing generally requires), then find one that is.
That spot could be any number of places: your local library, a local coffee shop, your basement, or your office (if you have one) can be great areas to write. Just be sure that you have as few distractions around as possible, and make sure you let everyone know that you’re busy.
Tell your kids that you can’t be bothered. Make sure your spouse knows that you won’t be available for the next hour or so. Be intentional in setting aside time to go to your writing place and work.
If you don’t yet have a clear place in mind for where you can write, make a list of amenities that your ideal workplace has. Look for a spot that’s as close to the one you outlined as possible. For example, my workspace lacks a gorgeous, mountainous view and a door that I can close to keep people out. But it does have wonderful natural light and it’s far enough away from my family that they don’t distract me when they’re playing.
Write in the Way You Feel Comfortable
This covers how you write, what you write with, and when you write. If you want to write in short bursts with a typewriter at 4 in the morning, go for it. If you want to write for hours on end on a fancy computer at high noon, do it.
It may take you a while to find out which writing method feels best for you, so experiment. If you discover that you love writing by hand, then write by hand. Don’t worry about having to transfer everything to the computer. Enjoy the activity of writing.
When you’re trying to find what works best for you, ask yourself these questions:
How do you feel most comfortable writing? (By hand, on the computer, in a spiral notebook, etc.)
When do you feel motivated to write? (And the answer can’t be never. If it is, think about a time would be most open to writing.)
How long can you write? (Do you work best in short, hour-long sprints, or can you pull of a four-hour writing marathon?)
Finding your answer to all three questions can make it easier for you to move past your writing mindset block because you’re lessening the resistance you have to writing.
Take Comfort From the Literary Giants
You’re not the only person who struggles with a writing mindset block. I get hung up there, too, sometimes, and I write for a living. A writing mindset block is a universal problem that pretty much everyone experiences at one point or another. Even the literary giants struggled with their mindset blocks sometimes.
Ernest Hemingway said, “There is no rule on how to write. Sometimes it comes easily and perfectly; sometimes it’s like drilling rock and then blasting it out with charges.”
And here’s another Hemingway quote for thought, “We are all apprentices in a craft where no one ever becomes a master.”
Maya Angelou has a great suggestion for overcoming your block: “What I try to do is write. I may write for two weeks ‘the cat sat on the mat, that is that, not a rat.’ And it might be just the most boring and awful stuff. But I try. When I’m writing, I write. And then it’s as if the muse is convinced that I’m serious and says, ‘Okay. Okay. I’ll come.’”
If you feel some resistance when it comes to writing, it’s ok. Acknowledge what you’re feeling and then try to work through it by doing the following two steps.
I bet you didn’t expect to find this here, did you? Probably the most important thing you can do before you write is to relax. If you’re worried about making mistakes, if you’re worried about sounding unprofessional, relax. The great thing about writing is that you can go back and edit it.
There’s no reason to stress about your writing, especially considering that the more stressed you are, the less likely your brain will be primed to create exceptional content.
So take a few deep breaths before you start writing and then...
Just Do It
Just write. Put your pen to the paper or your fingers to the keyboard and write. Don’t stop to edit mistakes. There will be plenty of time to do that later. For now, focus on your thoughts and transferring them to the paper.
Ardelia Lee is a strategic copywriter on a mission to humanize the online business world. She focuses on helping entrepreneurs infuse more of their personality into their content and create deeper connections with their audiences as a result. Wondering what your copywriting personality is? Take The Copywriting Personality Quiz to find out!