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Professional Writer's Guide to Overcoming Writer's Block {9 Expert Tips}

What causes writer's block? Why is it so hard to find the words once it begins? Explore the science behind overcoming writer's block and start writing again fast.

You're in the flow.

Words just fly onto the page one after the next -- each more golden than the last. Whether you're writing content for a doctor's practice or a trucking company, you feel the euphoria of the creative juices spilling out from your fingertips.

Eww. Weird visual.

Then "Bam!". Like a brick wall, it rises in your path -- writer's block.

Nothing kills productivity faster.

But you're a content writer. This is your job. You're not writing for fun.

You don't have a deadline 3 months down the line. You're expected to deliver now, consistently and constantly -- for your company, your team, your client.

Without continuous compelling content, your content marketing strategies fall flat.

You're smart. You should be able to figure this out. You should be able to overcome it. But the harder you push, the more solid that brick wall becomes.

You've heard since you were a kid that "winners never quit" so you keep pushing. Keep trying. The more determined you are to break through it, the worse it gets.

The more painful it is trying to write.

Each hard-fought-for word on the page becomes yet another anchor holding you in place on your first draft, pulling you back. You have deadlines to make. You have bills to pay. You have clients to please. It overwhelms you as you sink deeper into the pit of despair.

Snap out of it. Content writer's block doesn't have to control you. You have the power. You can again unleash that magnificent creative force within you.

I'll show you how to overcome writer's block once and for all.

Overcoming Writer's Block
Overcoming Writer's Block

The Causes of Writer's Block

The primary cause of writer's block is the inability to maintain a flow state brought on when your analytical mind overtakes the mind that spews creativity.

To overcome writer's block, you need to understand this mechanism and learn to reinstate creativity as the driving force behind your writing.

In this article, I'm specifically discussing writer's block because it's the artistic block that earns the most discussion. But this applies to any artist, inventor, entrepreneur who creates anything. Even athletes are creators as they build the body and skills to compete.

We're all creators who experience blocks that break our flow. Here's why that happens and what you can do to stop it.

The Beautiful Creative-Analytical Mind

You've probably heard about the left brain and the right brain. As the story goes if you're left-handed your right brain, the creative side dominates your thought processes.

If you're right-handed, the left, the analytical side, dominates.

While this is a gross over-simplification of how your neurological system works, it does help to potentially explain what content writer's block is. And through this understanding, you can learn how to fix the causes of writer's block.

Causes of Writer's Block
Causes of Writer's Block

Perfect Harmony

When the two sides of the brain work harmoniously to their strengths, you find your content writing zen. It's a pleasure to work, write something amazing, and create in every way.

This is when you create the most shareable content ever. The kind that connects and helps you reach goals.

When your two sides are at odds, you suddenly hit that brick wall that we call content writer's block. You lose your inspiration and feel stuck. You still have an idea of what belongs on the paper but nothing works. You go back. Delete. Start offer. And this can last for hours without a solution.

Instead of perfect harmony, perfectionism is taking over.

Many writers tend toward the analytical side of the brain (left) since 90% of people are right-handed.

For those who are, you may have to work a little harder to think with your creative brain. Over time you train your brain to think more creatively. And, in doing so, you learn how to ride the flow of an idea or story.

I'm a lefty, so maybe it just comes a little more naturally for me to be in the flow on a post. I'm sort of a free spirit by nature. So I've had to develop my analytical brain to find balance in my life and writing, develop a writing process, writing routine, and writing schedule.

A Deeper Look at The Creative Mind

When you're using your creating mind, everything is moving smoothly. Your fingers seem to have a mind of their own. They type the next line before it's even fully formed in your head. You write from the heart and have the best ideas. You can feel your writing, joy, anticipation, fear. Your words now connect with your audience like you're their best friend.

This slashes writing time.

The creating mind sees the world differently. It sees potential, the hidden, the unknown.

It then works to bring the unknown into the known.

It makes the unseen a reality.

When you're in "the zone" as a professional athlete might call it, you do some of your best work. Hours fly by. Set a timer. You'll be amazed. And when you reach the end of your day, you have work you can be proud of.

You need to be in this space to write your best work. But staying in this space, in your right brain, isn't easy. Overcoming writer's block requires an understanding of why the block happened in the first place. It has a lot to do with the modern writing process, which is essential but often misunderstood.

The Analytical Mind

The analytical side of your brain is responsible for forming coherent language. If you were too far off into the creative mind, you'd likely be writing gibberish.

The analytical mind evaluates your writing to make sure you're clearly conveying the ideas that you research and write. It ensures that you're still relating to your target audience.

It considers your content marketing writing objectives, SEO, readability, business voice, grammar, spelling, etc. It uses the SaaS resources to optimize the posts you've written from beginning to end.

It reminds you that you're on a deadline.

The Complement

Have you ever had trouble following what a creative genius is saying? It's because they've hyper-stimulated their creative mind -- which allows them to create amazing things on their computer or IRL.

But it makes it hard to communicate with others.

On the flip side, have you ever been around an ultra-realist, who can only see what is? They use logic to explain everything and believe science is always right when science often reveals how little we actually know about anything, even self.

This person has trouble seeing potential or possibilities beyond what they already know to be true. This may serve them well in their line of work and be necessary for them to do what they do.

But they're leaning too heavily on the logical side of the brain if they can't step outside the known to the "what if" when it serves them to do so. They're stuck in perfectionism. Creativity's blocked and no amount of bulletproof coffee going to unblock it.

As you can clearly see, you need both your creative and analytical mind to be a content writer -- or any kind of artist for that matter. You need that flow to be highly creative and productive.

But you need that more logical brain to remind you who you're writing for and so on you write a first draft that ends up being a non-starter.

To overcome writer's block find this balance. But even if you do spend writing time in the flow as a content writer, a disruption can occur that off-sets this balance. And you're stuck. Fear wells up. Will you ever get this article to the editor on time?

The Disruption

It starts small, like a tiny pebble in your running shoe. But as it continues to rub at the bottom of your foot, you develop a blister. Then the swelling and pain begin until you can't think about anything else.

You can't take it anymore and you certainly can't continue your run.

In content writing, this disruption is caused when the analytical brain overwhelms the creative brain at a time when you would be better served staying in that creative space. Block!

You've undoubtedly experienced the inverse where you just can't seem to stay focused on something important because your creative mind wants to play. I'm wild and free! Time for fun!

With writer's block, a shift happens. We start thinking about deadlines. We start questioning if it’s good enough. Fear sets in. We start looking for typos. We start editing what's on the page before we even get the first draft. We start thinking that our target audience or the editor or client won't like the post.

This is all analytical.

Restore the Balance

To overcome writer's block you have to break free from this line of thinking.

A little dose of this is necessary to stay on track. But when we allow it to take over, we move away from our creativity in our writing routine. It's hard to start writing again.

This thinking is logical and important. We should ask these questions as content writers. No one should hire a content writer who can't spend some time in the analytical brain whether generating words for a post or telling a story.

They can't meet goals or deadlines. They can't communicate effectively, gather the right resources, research, or talk about the project.

But it becomes counter-productive when it blocks the words. Because, believe me, there are definite times when the creative brain needs to be running somewhat wild and free. This is one of them.

A power struggle ensues. The characters in this story? Analytics vs. creativity.

Your analytical mind has quite an ego. It thinks that since it's the logical one, it should always be in control. But logic only understands what already is. Creativity is the ability to create something entirely new in posts--inspiration.

Even if you research extensively, writing is creation. You are a creator or the written word.

Stopping the Disruption

To stop the disruption, you must prevent your analytical mind from trying to take over the creative process. You can't do this in an all-out offensive though.

When you focus on what you don't want, you actually create more of it. That's a major component of the Law of Attraction, by the way. Or Carl Jung if you prefer. "Whatever you resist persists"

Instead, focus on what you do want, which is staying in your right headspace to create.

Now, Let's Overcome Writer's Block

Here are the steps to the cure.

1. Draw the Line

Make a commitment to yourself that you will not correct typos or edit while writing. This is the first step toward the slippery slope that allows the analytical mind to take over.

Editing and proofing are secondary processes to writing. It's not possible to do them at the same time without losing flow.

They stimulate opposite sides of the brain.

Don't beat yourself up if you correct something naturally as you go like changing "your" to "you're". But don't start re-reading and looking for things to fix in your draft before you've got that draft on the page.

Editing is analytical and will lead you down the path toward writer's block.

2. Think Positive Thoughts

Positive thoughts are much more powerful than negative ones. Negative ones only have any power when their numbers overwhelm.

Remind the doubting self that this is the best piece of content you'll ever write. And continue to think about this as you sit here at your computer and work on this project.

If you start to feel those "it's not good enough thoughts" creeping in, don't fight them. Instead, replace them with a positive mantra that's meaningful to you.

Over time this mantra will become a part of your subconscious mind.

3. Spend More Time in the Parasympathetic Nervous System

The autonomic (automatic) nervous system is divided into two parts sympathetic and parasympathetic. The parasympathetic nervous system is where flow happens.

When you're here, you release hormones that invigorate you. You feel content and confident. You may throw caution to the wind, and become optimally productive.

Some people, especially those with a lot of anxieties spend a lot of time in the sympathetic automatically. But you can use tricks to switch your mind over.

  • Laugh (even fake laughing)

  • Practice slow deep breathing

  • Watch something funny

  • Watch something peaceful

  • Talk with a friend, avoiding negative topics

  • Play with a pet or child

  • Do something artistic with your hands / Doodle

4. Give Yourself Time

Put that analytical mind to good use by organizing your business day in such a way that you have ample time to get each project completed. S

Reduce deadline stress by setting a schedule in advance and not waiting until the last minute. Set a timer if you need to help you distinguish between time for writing and playtime.

Sometimes we get down to the wire because we keep saying "if I do it later, it will flow more smoothly". We then procrastinate and procrastinate until we're forced to get it done.

This won't be your best work. In the next several points, I'll show you what to do instead. More writer's block tips on the way.

5. Exercise

Don't sit in front of your computer all day. Your only break should not be to grab more coffee.

Exercise releases endorphins, happy hormones. These hormones help you stay in a more creative place.

On top of this, exercise gets the blood flowing to the brain. You need that healthy blood flow to create.

Don't spend 30 minutes sitting in front of a blank page. You'll be more productive if you use this time to go for a walk, ride a bike or do some pushups.

Don't focus on your assignment as you do the activity. But quite often, the article ideas will just begin flowing as you get more oxygen to your brain.

Researchers compared 48 people who only engaged in mild exercise on a regular basis with 48 people who exercised regularly. The group who exercised regularly outperformed the other group on several creativity tests.

Another 20-year study followed a group of more or less equally-matched scientists through their careers.

They found that the ones who worked long hours and took little time for family, friends, exercise and leisure had over those 20 years had fewer break-throughs, discoveries, etc.

These kinds of creative events are what define a scientist's career -- not the endless hours they spend experimenting and researching.

6. Develop a Daily Walk Practice

If you look through history you'll find endless examples of creative people from writers to inventors who considered exercise critical to their process and part of the solution.

7. Practice Meditation

Worry about deadlines and guidelines can kill creativity. But meditation helps you recenter yourself. Through meditation, you learn that you do have control over your thoughts and emotions. You can regulate them with more ease and use them as the tools they are put the best ideas on the page.

Word of advice. As a writer, the most important moment isn't the deadline. It's right now. If you're focused on your deadline, your mind is in the future when it would better serve you in the present where it could be delivering amazingness onto the paper.

Meditation can effectively recalibrate your mind in the present moment. You'll emerge more focused on writing and better able to complete a creative task.

8. Bounce Ideas off a Friend

Sharing with others is a great way to get back into your creative space. Take some time to bounce ideas off others. Get feedback. And then start creating.

The right cohort can propel you to the moon. If your friend is an artist as well, you can propel each other.

9. Spend Some Time Being Inspired

We need to draw a fine line here for certain. Browsing the Internet while you're supposed to be working can cause procrastination.

But it can also inspire you. Surround yourself with visuals that inspire. Find images or videos that make you happy. If you prefer music, use it to accomplish the same thing.

I run YouTube nature scenary plus music videos on my SmartTV while I write. If I feel a little stuck, I can look up at the screen, meditate on the beautiful images for a moment and get back to it.

Some of my favorites are Nature Healing Society and Awakening Planet.

Channel this positive energy into your creative flow and create more exceptional content.


Leigh Clayborne is a Hubspot certified freelance content marketing / SEO content writer & strategist with 10 years of healthcare management experience on 15+ years of creating content. She is a strong proponent of creating the right customer experience to meet business goals.

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