Having writer’s block and a looming deadline can zap your creative juices faster than a cat can claw you for rubbing its belly.
There’s always typing with your eyes closed but sometimes —such as when your brain is stressed — closing your eyes just gives your brain time to invent horrors that will befall you should you fail.
Most often, when you’re blocked, it’s not because you can’t find any words; it’s because you can’t settle on the right words. You expect perfection the first time out.
Add to that being under the proverbial gun to produce, and you’ve got pressure.
So much pressure.
Sometimes you thrive. Other times, you need an escape route.
Give yourself something to edit.
Write a letter
All writers (should) write to an audience. Our job is communicating with people.
So when you’re stuck, try putting the meat of your message in a letter to someone you know.
Dear Uncle Miles,
I know you’re struggling with an old, worn out eReader. It doesn’t support your aging eyes the way you need it to, and it’s keeping you from reading the rest of the Twilight series you love. But that’s okay. Because this newest eReader from Awesome eReader Makers has the latest large-print fonts and bright (yet soft) backlighting to make it easier for book lovers of all ages to enjoy their favorite literature any time of day and in any lighting conditions.
You don’t need to finish the letter. You just need to get down what you need to get down so you can organize, edit and polish.
When your internal editor has a stranglehold on what’s considered the ‘right words,’ go rogue. Throw down the wrong words.
When I’m at my wit’s end, I’ll write like I’m Jesse in Breaking Bad; oodles of profanity.
Just be sure to edit carefully before you submit your work.
Can’t stress that enough.
Write alternatives inline
Surfing the type-delete-type-delete wave means you can work on one sentence for thirty minutes and have nothing to show because you deleted most of what you wrote.
Instead, put optional phrases in brackets or parentheses as you write. Separate them with a vertical line, comma or asterisk. Or just write mega-run on sentences.
There’s a million and one ways (oodles, buckets of options) to say this most awesome sentence (life-changing sentence, sentence that will inspire people everywhere to recycle and save this good planet) but it will only come to fruition (happen | occur | call me maybe) if I get the idea down on the page (get it written, get the words out, make up my ever-loving mind).
This keeps you writing and lets you compare your options side by side so you can choose your best phrasing.
This one’s courtesy of Andrew Blackman’s guest post The Two Letters That Will Help You Write Faster on The Renegade Writer. “TK” is journalistic shorthand for where you need to fill in the blanks because you need to look up or verify information—after you’re done with your initial drafting.
According to Blackman, “Just type TK, with a short reminder of what you need to do (for example, “TK section on costs”) and keep moving.”
Just like I did when I wrote that paragraph to find the link to the original article.
Blackman’s intent was centered around writing faster but let’s face it, sometimes we’re blocked because we get distracted by fact-finding. Or we have so much information that we try too hard to cram it all into one piece.
Using “TK” can help us break out of that mire.
Whatever gets it on the page, get it on the page.
First drafts are expected to suck, remember? So don’t be afraid to do what you have to do to get the words on the page and then make ‘em pretty.
Now, over to you. Any crafty ways of getting around writer’s block when you’ve got a deadline looming? Share in the comments.