How to Overcome Writer's Block
“It’s hard to write, darling, but it’s harder not to”
As communicators, writing is part of nearly everything we do in our professional and personal lives. Through our words we bring a company’s culture to life, convey tough financial or personnel news, or take a public stance on a topic that can either resonate with or goes against our values. Sometimes it can take a time to find the right words – because of the often feared and dreaded writer's block.
Tell me if this sounds familiar: staring off into space, checking your email repeatedly, or scrolling through Instagram? How about when your writer’s block starts to really spiral out of control and a wildly unproductive stream of consciousness ensues? You wind up questioning your profession, college major, intelligence, and more. You kick yourself for not reading that one book that every writer swears by because, if you did, you definitely would know how to tackle this topic.
I’ve written a fair amount in my professional life and also grappled with creative writing projects on the side. I’ve noticed a lot of similarities in the types of roadblocks I encounter. Whether it’s an employee brand proposition, newsletter, or blog – the struggle is how to put pen to paper and say what you want to say efficiently and effectively.
My colleague, Sara, recently wrote a blog post about Brené Brown and how her words of wisdom and truth can inspire us as communicators and, more importantly, as people. Her piece led me to re-visit author Cheryl Strayed’s Dear Sugar column on The Rumpus.
In this particular letter she delivers tough love advice to a young, aspiring writer. No matter your writing roadblock, her advice can give everyone the gentle kick we may need in order to get out of our heads and get pen to paper.
“We get the work done on the ground level. And the kindest thing I can do for you is to tell you to get your butt on the floor. I know it’s hard to write, darling. But it’s harder not to. The only way you’ll find out if you “have it in you” is to get to work and see if you do. The only way to override your “limitations, insecurities, jealousies, and ineptitude” is to produce. You have limitations. You are in some ways inept. This is true of every writer, and it’s especially true of writers who are twenty-six. You will feel insecure and jealous. How much power you give those feelings is entirely up to you.”