Two Never-Fail Ways to Overcome Writer's
by Diane Eble
The last time I
experienced writer's block was probably 25 years ago. Sometime
before I discovered the two techniques I will describe for you
The only trouble I sometimes have in writing is
keeping myself from writing too much.
For instance, I started two
other articles before I settled down to this one for this
week. The other two kept morphing into longer articles that
will probably become Special Reports or even e-courses.
(They're on self-publishing.)
First, let's do a little
background on why we might experience writer's block.
Causes of Writer's
Usually when you
experiences writer's block it's because the "internal
editor"—some call it the more rational, left side of the
brain—is overriding your more creative side. Some little
voice in your head is telling you things like, "That's a
stupid idea," or, "the way you're saying that is totally
boring," or, "What makes you think you can write?"
Maybe it's not a "little voice."
Maybe the Critical Voice is fairly screaming at you. How can
you hear your Creative Voice with that Critical Voice
screaming at you?
So, you have to trick the
One way to do this, ironically,
is by letting it have its full say.
Start writing out all the things
this Voice is saying to you. This works best when you do it
by hand, but if you're used to composing on the computer,
you can do that.
Write as quickly as you can.
Whatever's on your mind, get it down. Don't worry about
grammar, punctuation, or if it's legible. Get it out.
This is called "free writing,"
and it often works like a charm. What happens is you often
just write through the block, and the idea comes.
Another variation of this is to
write down what you would like to write about if you weren't
so blocked. "I want to write an article about
self-publishing but I don't know where to start or what to
say or how much to tell people. Maybe I should go do a
little research on the topic. Or would that really be
procrastinating?...." and on and on. Before I know it, I'm
actually writing about what I intended to.
So the first method is to mind
dump, free write—whatever you want to call writing through
Mind Mapping: Circumventing Writer's
The second method is what I use
to circumvent writer's block altogether. It works by
de-activating that logical, often critical left side of your
brain, and tuning in to the non-linear side of your mind.
Some call it mind mapping.
It would be easiest if I could
just show you how to do this. I'll have to describe it in
First, take a blank piece of
paper (you must do this by hand), and write your main idea
in the middle of the paper. This article would be called
"writer's block." Then, you draw a circle around that word.
Then draw a line from the edge of that circle, and make that
line an arrow.
At that point, something else
should pop into your head. Write down the word or phrase and
draw a circle around that.
Does another word pop into your
mind? Is it associated with your main idea or your other
word/phrase? Draw another arrow from whichever circle it
seems linked to, and put your word down.
Another word or phrase should
come to you. Draw the arrow from the natural association,
write down your word, circle it, and so on.
You will quickly have a paper
filled with circles, arrows and words. A totally non-linear
"outline" of your idea.
Guess what happens next? That
more linear part of your brain jumps in, eager to create
some logical order of the visual disorder before you. The
first line of your article, chapter or whatever should come
to you effortlessly, and you're on your way. Simply refer to
your "mind map" and flesh out the ideas. Sometimes I number
those points that radiate from the main idea circle, in the
order that seems most natural.
This process has never failed to
work for me. However, I need to emphasize a few things about
Why You Must Do It Exactly This
First, this kind of mind mapping
needs to be done by hand. I know there are computer programs
out there that do mind mapping. They're fine for some
things. However, to overcome writer's block, you must do the
exercise by hand, on a piece of paper, with pencil or pen
(use whichever one you prefer). Using a computer is not only
slower, but it pulls you into a linear mode again—which
means it won't work.
Some people like to use squares
or triangles as well as circles, or simply put straight
lines when they do a mind map. All of these introduce too
much linearity to the process. To overcome writer's block,
you need to completely circumvent the linear process. So use
only circles, arrows, and words. Keeping it simple and
non-linear allows you to tap into the more emotional,
creative side of your mind.
By the way, I use this second
process for everything I do. I plan whole books this way. I
prepare articles, talks, web copy, my weekly schedule,
family vacations, even grocery lists this way.
Try it—I think you'll like
next steps ...
You are invited
to ask me your
writing, publishing or promoting a book,
especially in light of the changes in publishing and
will answer it on an upcoming teleseminar or on my
For more tips on how to make writing
easier and more fun, check out Writing
Secrets Revealed. I share several
other techiques that make writing (almost) as natural as