Battling Writer’s Block

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Cat DoughtyWriter’s block has an almost romanticized air to it. Picture it: the struggling artist, toiling over a masterpiece. If you’ve ever experienced it (and I think it’s safe to say every writer has) you know there’s nothing remotely romantic about it. Lack of inspiration, resistance, writer’s block—whatever you call it, at its core it’s just procrastination and it stems from a number of places: not knowing what to write, insecurity, self doubt, feeling uninspired, being a perfectionist. Sometimes writing is just plain hard and people tend to put off what is difficult. What’s a girl to do? Pages must be written so projects can be made, deadlines can be met, rent can be paid!

If you’re struggling with productivity, here are three tips to beat the “block” and get some pages written.

1. Show up.  

Don’t wait for the muse. Maybe you’re one of those lucky people who gets regular genius bolts of inspiration from the ether, but if you’re like me, the muse doesn’t show up until your rear is in the chair and you start filling that blank page with words. Sometimes the hardest part is sitting down and getting started, but if you show up and do the work, that creative energy will flow. Jane Espenson (@JaneEspenson –one of my favorite writers to follow on twitter) always tweets an invite to join her when she’s about to start what she calls a “writing sprint”—an hour (or 2) block of time set aside where she commits total focus to writing and nothing else. I love it! Everyone can find an hour and committing to that “sprint” is a great way to get some work done, and really, even if I only set my time for an hour, I usually find myself so engrossed in what I’m working on that I’ll often work beyond that.

2. Back away from the interwebs.

It’s tough. Most of us work on a computer and the internet, just one click away, is a total time suck. Many a “quick” foray into “research” has resulted in an hour (or more) of lost writing time. Sometimes there’s a legit reason to look something up.  If you have an urgent need to know the difference between a yam and a sweet potato go ahead and Google it, but ask yourself—do you really? Right now? Better plan: add a placeholder word or phrase, highlight it and just keep writing. When you’ve got your pages done for the day you can go back and figure out what should go there. Don’t let one question mark keep you from making progress.

3. Allow yourself to write crap.

Yep. Read it again. This was a big one for me. News flash: the first draft isn’t going to be a masterpiece. That’s OK. Getting the cliché, cheesy, bad ideas out of the way makes room for better ones. Give yourself permission to write without censoring yourself. They say, “Don’t get it right, just get it written.” Sage advice. No one else has to see your first draft and you’ll have plenty of time to go back through and see what works and what doesn’t.

What about you? What do you do to break through writer’s block and get productive? 

Cat Doughty

About Cat Doughty

Cat Doughty has a BFA in Art and Technical Theatre from Whitworth University. After moving to New Mexico in 2007, Cat joined a group of passionate independent filmmakers called Black Shepherd Productions. As part of the Black Shepherd team, Cat has been a writer, a producer and nearly everything in between. Since finishing co-writing and producing the webseries “Flock” with Black Shepherd she is currently focusing on developing new screenplays so she can keep making indie projects!