Most of us - professional writers and professionals who have to write – have faced this dilemma. Call it writer’s block; call it analysis paralysis; call it panic. Whatever you call it, your fingers are frozen above the keyboard, and the clock is ticking.
Here are a few ideas for getting yourself unstuck.
1. Do something else.
This seems counter-intuitive, doesn’t it? You’ve got a deadline. You’ve GOT to get that report, presentation or email written. However, it may be that pressure that’s blocking you. Release the pressure. Take just a moment to stretch, get a cup of coffee, walk around the office. The brief distraction may be enough to let you come back to your project with fresh ideas and renewed enthusiasm.
2. Start with the conclusion.
Sometimes the way to begin is to start at the end. Sounds like Yoda? Sounds crazy? But just think about it for a minute. You already know the conclusion you want to reach. Why not start there and work back through your supporting arguments?
3. Develop an outline first.
This can work going beginning to end or end to beginning. The beauty is that you just need to jot down ideas, rather than full sentences and paragraphs. You can reorganize as needed. The outline can make writing easier because it gives you a framework to write from.
A technique that works well for outline-development is to write ideas on notecards or Post-It paper. Then organize them and reorganize them until you’re satisfied with the result. (You’ll need a wall or table to spread out on.)
4. Just start writing.
Here’s the “Just Do It” method of writing. You’ve done your research. You have your resources gathered. You have a general idea of what needs to be said. So plunge in. Start writing. It may wind up being the middle. It may be the end. It may just be “blah, blah, blah.” But the act of starting somewhere can serve to get you unstuck. Be prepared for the fact that you’ll need to do some reorganizing and editing later.
5. Or try talking.
Thinking out loud to a colleague may work to get your ideas flowing. Or try talking to a voice recorder app on your smart phone. Some folks leave themselves voicemail messages.
I hope at least one of these ideas works for you. But if you’re stuck and running out of time on a writing project, why not call in a pro? A professional freelance writer may be just what you need to move a project from “To Do” to “Done.”