Do you ever have a writing assignment but you have no idea where to start, or how to start? Or maybe you’re just dreading the task so you don’t start at all. Writer’s block can be intimidating, but only if we let it.
Getting started can be the hardest part. Once you’re past that hurdle, momentum builds and you’re on your way.
Maybe it’s a blog post, or an article, or a complex report. You know what you need to write about; you even have some research on the topic. But that big blank screen feels like Mt. Everest. Your mind feels equally blank. Now what?
Writing a paper doesn’t have to be the equivalent of mountain climbing.
Supposedly writer’s block is just an excuse. That we should push through and start with something. Anything.
I’ve found that for starting out with a new creative idea, I’m usually a pen and paper kind of girl. That keeps me from getting distracted by other things on my computer, I can make notes in any location, and it helps get the creativity going a little more. Then I can easily transition the ideas to my computer with something in hand.
Shortcuts that help me get past the blank page hurdle of writer’s block:
- First, I jot down a few ideas and notes as a sort of outline. (Yes, I still like old fashioned pen and paper.) This gives me a starting point.
- Next, I check for any requirements or guidelines depending on the type of project. This can be guest post guidelines, article expectations, or a Request for Proposal.
- My notes go into a document (Word or Google Docs). If there are specific questions I need to answer or requirements to meet, I’ll use those as an outline and then plug my notes into the appropriate sections.
- After the outline is in the document, I read through each point and type quick notes of things I need to add later such as research, quotes, or links.
Now I have a framework for writing instead of facing blank page panic. I can go through and plug in notes from phone calls, move things around as the project evolves, add ideas, and highlight items where I have questions or need more info.
The writing flows much more smoothly when I have a starting point instead of a blank page.
I am no longer wrestling with a blank page. Whew!
Funny thing, as I was finalizing this post to publish, the awesome team over at CoSchedule sent out an email on the same topic. They go into a lot of detail about writer’s block and how to kick it to the curb. Check it out here.
How do you handle a new writing project? Do you enjoy it or does it feel overwhelming?