8 Ways to beat digital writer’s block

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Admit it; just thinking about writer’s block is frustrating you.

Writer’s block is a unique obstacle in that it gets worse with time. If you write for a living or for recreation, you know what it’s like to struggle with wording or to find a topic in the first place. Professional bloggers cover a range of topics and often write under irregular deadlines. Here are a few simple tips for getting your creative juices flowing.

1. Just start writing
Few sights are as daunting to a writer as a blank Word document. Facing down the white screen is hard enough when you actually have an idea in mind, and it’s much worse when you don’t. Try writing something, anything on the page just to lessen the intimidation. It can be an outline, a byline or just notes. Jot down the song lyrics that are stuck in your head, if you have to. You might not be there yet, but you’ll breathe a sigh of relief just to have some words breaking up the white void in front of you. Of course, sometimes you need some help just getting to this point, so on to tip two.

2. Online and software resources
Applications have been developed with the sole purpose of helping you write, and others have broader implications. Here are a few useful links that could help you write more freely:

  • Unstuck is an iPad app based on helping writers pinpoint the source of their current writer’s block so that they can nip it and move on. Based on the cause of your writer’s block, the app offers more than 50 customized tips.
  • OmmWriter is a program that helps a writer eliminate distractions. It operates in full-screen mode with peaceful backdrops and audio so that you can write without the blinking alerts and icons that otherwise slow you down.
  • FocusWriter is similar to OmmWriter, except that it’s a bit simpler and free. The idea is the same: temporarily turn your computer into a word processor, and nothing more.
  • 750 Words takes a little commitment, but it works. Users are encouraged to write anything that comes to mind, organized or not. The daily exercise keeps you in a writing mood, and you can pore over your previous posts to find fresh blog ideas.
  • Dabbleboard is a tool that lets you use freehand drawing, flowcharts and diagrams to brainstorm ideas. This software was not made specifically with writers in mind, but it’s an excellent resource nonetheless.

3. Use social media
You know that your friends and followers have opinions, so why not use them? Send out a tweet to see if anyone can help you generate ideas. Having a topic in mind certainly helps, but you can start from scratch as well.

4. Peruse other blogs
Whether you’ve got an idea in mind or are looking for direction, reading can grease the wheels. If you’re writing for a business blog that focuses on medical website design or safety gloves, for example, it’s easy to box yourself in thinking of the same few topics over and over again. If you’ve got a subject in mind, read similar postings by others and see if anything’s been overlooked. You could pick up where somebody left off. Try testing out topics that are foreign to you, as well. You might be inspired to take up a subject you hadn’t considered before.

5. Keep a journal on hand
Your best ideas will come to you when you don’t need them. You’ll be shopping online and notice something that irks you about how the company organizes product reviews, or you’ll wake up in a cold sweat from a nightmare about a bad tweet. Keep a notebook handy, and write down these nuggets of blogging gold as they come to you. You might not get around to these ideas for some time, but when you do hit that dry spell, you’ll be glad you jotted down your ideas when you did.

6. Step away from the computer
Sometimes even the most calming computer application (see tip two) won’t block out every distraction. Staring at your computer is only making things worse, so take a breather. Rewarding blog posts aren’t born of frustration; they should come to you without force. At the very least, you can move on to a different work-related task. Better yet, close your MacBook Pro and step outside for a walk or a bike ride. Who knows. Maybe your downtime will inspire a blog post. Keep that journal handy, just in case.

7. Switch off from social media
As I write this, I’m tempted to check my Facebook. It’s bad enough when you’re actively working, but it can be worse when you’re brainstorming blog topics. Avoid distractions that cloud your capacity to be inspired (that means x’ing out of Facebook and Google chat). Your ideas might even flow better with pen and paper in a room far away from your computer.

8. Change your routine
Personally, I find it easier to write first thing in the morning, and I know others who hit their strides in the afternoon. Try mixing up your routine until you find that sweet spot. For all you know, your muse visits in the middle of the night with perfect blogging ideas. You’ll never know if you continue to exhaust yourself staring at the computer all day.

If you know of any unique tricks for breaking through writer’s block while blogging, feel free to comment below.

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