The marketing world is fast-paced and constantly changing, often requiring loads of work to be completed under tight, last-minute deadlines. And while this can be stressful, it’s not necessarily a problem if you can still chug along, putting out content at a steady clip.
But what happens when that flow of ideas comes to a screeching halt? It’s the adversary nobody wants to face but eventually strikes everyone: writer’s block.
Now, before you completely give up on yourself and hurl your cup of coffee at the wall in frustration, take a deep breath. Writer’s block is an inevitable challenge, but the good news is that it can be overcome.
And while there are plenty of weird tips out there (writers and marketers do tend to be an eclectic bunch, after all), we’ve narrowed our list down to three tried-and-true, most effective methods to help you beat writer’s block.
While completely dropping work for half an hour when an all-important deadline is breathing down your neck may seem like a terrible idea, it’s actually one of the best things you can do to refuel your creative juices. And this doesn’t mean to procrastinate your work until it’s too late, or to start binge-watching your favorite show on Netflix.
As Buffer explains, “On average, our brains are only able to focus for 90 minutes and need at least 20 minutes rest thereafter.” These 20-30 minute breaks are essential for refreshing your creativity and your attention span, making it more likely that you’ll be able to come back with a fresh perspective on your previously-insurmountable challenge.
To get the best use of your 20 minutes, get away from your desk! If possible, take a walk outside. The further you can get from your desk, the easier it is to put aside the stresses of your current task and let your mind wander, giving you a mental boost and putting you in the right mindset for when you get back to work.
Don’t fear bad ideas
After your 30 minute walk/ping pong session/whatever, it’s time to get back to work. And while it’s understandable that you’d only want to write down your absolute best ideas, your initial brainstorming session should see everything that pops into your head get written down. Yes, even the bad ideas.
Writing for Inc. Magazine, Geoffrey James noted, “If you’re brainstorming, the dumbest thing you can do is characterize an idea as ‘bad.’ Yes, there are bad ideas, but they’re the fertilizer out of which good ideas grow.”
Sure, one of your ideas may seem completely ridiculous when you first write it down. It may be so off-the-wall that it hardly even relates to the task at hand. But being immediately dismissive of such ideas can create a major stumbling block in your creative process.
Quite often, that “bad” idea serves as inspiration for something that works. In some cases, a fine-tuned “bad” idea could ultimately be what saves the day.
Eliminating distractions is a must if you wish to keep writer’s block at bay. While giving yourself the occasional break can be healthy and rejuvenating, allowing yourself to become easily distracted will only ensure that you never get the task done (which will only make your job more stressful).
As useful as technology is, it has rapidly proven to be one of the greatest distractors available: email, social media, push notifications, and more constantly interrupt as you’re trying to refocus on your major project.
So what can you do? Start by completely limiting those tech interruptions. Turn off your push notifications, minimize your email (if allowed), and close your Web browser to keep you focused on the task at hand.
Forbes recommends creating an active plan to minimize the distractions that are most detrimental to your work, which may not be tech-related at all—a messy work area can be just as distracting as frequent email notifications.
Make sure others are aware of your efforts to reduce distractions. This not only decreases the likelihood that you’ll be interrupted just as you’re finally getting a good idea; it can also increase your accountability by having others check in on your efforts (and results) at designated intervals.
Whether your writer’s block has been brought about by burnout, stress, fear of bad ideas, or simply having too many distractions, implementing these tactics can help you get back on track and make better use of your time.
And as you use these tricks to beat writer’s block, you’ll find your work much more enjoyable and get far better results.