Posted by Justine Solomons on 24 August 2020, in Byte Experts, News
This month in our Byte Experts series, we hear from Author, Ghostwriter, Writing Coach & Content Creator, Nicole Johnston on how to overcome writers block.
You’ve started strong, you’ve written every day and your word count is rising. Things are going well and suddenly grind to a halt. What’s happening and how do you get your creative mojo back? There is a myriad of reasons for writer’s block but here are some of the most common with some simple solutions.
It happens to most of us. We’ve written a lot – but one day it hits us just how much we still have to do. That can cause overwhelm.
Break your writing down into bitesize pieces. Don’t take on the whole book at once. Set yourself achievable daily goals. Achieving those goals each day is your only requirement. Don’t think about the rest of the book.
‘Writing is like driving at night in the fog. You can only see as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way.’ E.L. Doctorow
2.Editing, researching, or reviewing while you write
Moving between the right and left sides of our brain causes writer’s block. We use the logical side of our brain for work and study, but the creative sides of our brains are used less often. That makes it harder to get into and harder to stay in the flow. If we jump back into our logical brain while writing, we will struggle to pick up where we left off.
Do not edit, review or research while you are writing. Leave it until after your writing session.
‘’Never edit as you write’ Michael Malice
Trying to write a ‘good’ book keeps us in the logical side of our brain. That’s where our inner perfectionist/critic ‘lives’. No-one’s creative flow can withstand a constant barrage of criticism as they write.
People don’t want to read a ‘good’ book they want a great story. J.K. Rowling is a great example – her writing isn’t perfect, but she is a genius storyteller. A book written from the logical side of your brain be ‘perfect’, but it may also be ‘perfectly dull’. Use the creative side of your brain to write. Ignore mistakes – they can be fixed in the editing phase.
‘Your intuition knows what to write, so get out of the way’ Ray Bradbury
- Prioritise your writing
Gandhi once said, ‘Action expresses priorities. Our lives are full of competing priorities - if writing falls off the end of our ‘to-do’ lists it just won’t happen.
According to Darren Hardy, author of The Compound Effect, it is the small things we do every day that change our lives. However, we don’t have to write for hours every day. I developed a 10minute writing method for the busy people in my writing tribes.
Write for 10 minute every day, with no editing, researching, or reviewing. It sounds crazy but check out the numbers. The average person writes at 40 words per minute.
40wpm x 10 minutes = 400 words
400 words x 7 days = 2800 words
…in 70 minutes, a week! Your 70 000word draft would be finished in less than 6 months.
Even if writing feels like walking through treacle - show up. We must exercise the creative side of our brain every day like any muscle.
If you turn up consistently and get those words down, however hard it is, your creative flow will come back. Don’t take my word for it - Maya Angelou says:
‘What I try to do is write. I may write for two weeks…it might be just the most boring and awful stuff... When I’m writing, I write. And then it’s as if the muse is convinced that I’m serious and says, ‘Okay. Okay. I’ll come.’ Maya Angelou
…and a last bonus tip – boost your creativity – read, journal, free write, write in a garden or park. Feed your senses – that will boost your creativity.
Nicole Johnston tell us a bit more about herself:
I help busy people write their books - either through ghostwriting or writing coaching.
I have a misspent youth in politics and government and had the chance to work with some amazing people including Gordon Brown and Kim Beazley. My PhD was brought to an abrupt halt because I re-discovered my passion for writing fiction and my brain simply refused to engage any longer with administrative law.
That was in 2005 and many and several manuscripts ago. Two of them ‘The Cabinet Maker’ and ‘Winter City’ are available on Amazon. My first crime fiction novel will be out later this year. My first non-fiction book 'How a Hashtag Changed the World', co-authored with Anna McAfee, will be launched on 10th September 2020.
For 20 years I’ve written professionally, ghostwriting for senior government ministers (in the UK and Australia), senior officials, third sector and corporate leaders and, in recent years, social media influencers. I have worked in senior positions with high profile, international organisations such as the World Bank, the Gates Foundation and WHO, using my writing and communications skills.
Unable to keep my love of writing to myself I have two free online writing tribes on Facebook where I share the information, knowledge and skills I’ve been lucky enough to pick up over the years. You’re very welcome to join me there for some encouragement to get your own books finished.
Feel free to contact me for a virtual coffee if you'd like to chat about your options. You can book here or find out more about what I do at www.writingtribe.com My direct email is firstname.lastname@example.org.