Writer’s Block

Someone online posted a desperate plea for help with writer’s block. The question mentioned a “massive project” like a book proposal or dissertation.

Oh, my. I feel for you. I was so frozen with fear when I started my own dissertation that I didn’t write a single word for a month.

But there’s hope! I finished my dissertation, learned a lot along the way, and went on to become a pretty productive writer. Here are some strategies to try:

  1. Make up your mind to do it badly. That removes the intimidation factor. You can always make improvements later – and you will, once you have something substantial to work with.
  2. Start with a leading task – something small related to your project. You could type a couple of quotations you’re planning to use, for example, or look something up. Tell yourself “I’m just going to….” Often that will get your engine going.
  3. Know your favorite escapes and excuses. Mine is housework. I didn’t clean my stove for two years while I was writing my dissertation. It was too tempting to divert my energy into making my house sparkle.
  4. Find a buddy. Plan to meet for writing sessions.
  5. Change your location. I went to a coffee shop every evening for an hour.
  6. Don’t worry about inefficiency. Those coffee shop trips involved a lot of wasted time – packing my stuff, driving there, unpacking when I got home, trying to concentrate in a noisy atmosphere. But over the long haul I got a lot done, and those nightly trips gave me something to look forward to.

Good luck, and hang in there!


Jean Reynolds’ book Five Minutes a Day: Time Management for People Who Love to Put Things Off can be purchased from Amazon.com and other online booksellers for $6.25 (paperback) or $1.99 (Kindle). Other ebook formats are available from Smashwords.com for $1.99.


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