Chopping the Writer’s Block

Did you know that Chuck Norris once kicked a horse in the chin? Its descendants are known as giraffes.

Writer’s block is like being kicked by Chuck Norris and it happens to the best of us. You sit at your computer and try to force yourself to write that blog, that blurb, that social post caption, and you’ve got nothing. Come on! People are depending on you! Boom! Snake-skin boot to the jugular.

The pressure is real. We have to learn how to karate chop through writer’s block, just like Mr. Sato had to chop through his jealousy of Mr. Myagi, symbolized by the big block of driftwood he kept in his backyard they found together when they were kids (that’s a Karate Kid 2 reference, youngsters).

So here are my best karate chops for chopping through the writer’s block.

Write “Intro” at the Top

Literally write the word “Intro” at the top and hit enter. You’d be surprised how many times what you need to break out of writer’s block is to simply write something. Just start. Defining that you’re only looking for an intro is also helpful to the brain cells on coffee break up there.

Read Something that Inspires You

If you read the email newsletter The Hustle, you know that I draw a lot of inspiration from them. Their tongue-in-cheek style makes reading about tech and business news more fun and less like I’m falling into irreparable nerd-dom. It gets me in the right mindset for how I want to write.

If you’ve ever seen Finding Forrester starring Sean Connery, this idea is from that. Now that’s two movies you need to see. Find something you like that inspires you and read it. Then start writing. It puts you in the right mindset to get going.

Start in the Middle

If you don’t know how to start but know how a few other sections of what you need to write will go, then just start with them. Start in the middle. Most serious writers don’t write from beginning to end. They write in sections. It’s ok for you to do that too.

What does the last line of this blurb need to be? Can I at least just write the information sentence (the one you have to have that has the time and date of stuff in announcements). Write what you can write and get to the other later.

Write the Structure Outline Down

Maybe if you make an outline of what you want to write, the major points you need to make, and list out any stories you want to tell to illustrate your points, it will help you get unstuck. Pro Tip: That’s how I start almost every blog or podcast I do.

Change your Location

It’s ok to be a little bit of a diva and announce to the whole office that you “just can’t write here.” Cite a ridiculous reason to keep them on their toes like “The sun is too yellow in here.” and find a new place to write.

Changing the scenery actually helps your brain start kicking the sections of it you need to work into gear. Plus, it’s nice to get out of the office. That’s where Keith is. And Keith has horrendous coffee breath and insists on talking about Survivor all the time, even when it’s not on TV.

Ignore your Phone

I don’t mean just set your phone off to the side. I mean put it in your backpack or purse where you can’t even see it. Put it on do not disturb mode. Social media, email, texts never stop pouring in and they are always an excuse to become distracted.

Did you know that once distracted, it takes about 16-23 minutes to really refocus your brain again in deep focus mode? That’s what I call it. It’s science.

Don’t Procrastinate

Thomas Jefferson famously said, “Why do tomorrow what you can do today?” Mostly that’s because he wasn’t talking about exercising. I’m always good with exercising tomorrow. But exercising today? No thanks, founding father.

Procrastination is a disease in my soul, but TJ is right. You and I both know that you’ll have to write that blurb eventually and that procrastinating only makes it harder on you.

What helps you chop through the writer’s block? Throw out your ideas in the comments or join The Seminary of Hard Knocks Facebook group conversation already in progress! Thanks for reading!

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