Words to Profit

Writing Tip

Two Never-Fail Ways to Overcome Writer's Block

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 now.

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 Block


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 Critical Voice.


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 the block.


Mind Mapping: Circumventing Writer's Block


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 words.


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 the technique.


Why You Must Do It Exactly This Way


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 it!


Your next steps ...


1.  You are invited to ask me your question on writing, publishing or promoting a book, especially in light of the changes in publishing and technology. I will answer it on an upcoming teleseminar or on my blog.


2.  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 breathing.

Watch Diane suggest how to get the most out of your visit here.


FREE Teleseminar:

Overcoming success blocks (in your writing, marketing, life): two-part interview with Dr. Alex Loyd, author of the best-selling book, The Healing Code.

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"Frame-of-Mind Marketing: How to Convert Your Online Prospects into Customers"

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