When your work involves writing, there’s a lot of pressure to keep up a high output. You’re supposed to write for hours every day, every week on end, which is enough to burn anyone out. Then it happens – writer’s block hits and you know you’re in for a rough ride.
Suffering from the occasional creative drought is no reason to be ashamed. No writer can function at 100% all the time (with noted exceptions). However, there are ways you can mitigate the impact of writer’s block as a freelancer so it doesn’t affect your job, and it’s important you learn which ones work for you.
In this article, we’ll talk about what causes writer’s block and then go over five tips to help you deal with it, so you don’t throw your laptop out the window in frustration. Let’s get to it!
What Causes Writer’s Block
Writer’s block is different for every writer. For me, it usually hits when I’ve been working too much, haven’t gotten enough rest, or I’m just having a bad day. Then when I sit down to work, putting out each word is a slog, whereas usually, ideas flow more freely.
The one thing every writer has in common is that block strikes us all sooner or later. For most of us, it’s a recurring thing. While movies, shows, and books romanticize the idea of the creative block, sitting around waiting for it to pass is a luxury we can’t afford. After all, although we might write for fun, we’re also freelancers. ‘I was in the middle of a creative rut’ is not a great excuse for missing a deadline.
In other words, you need to figure out what works for you when it comes to overcoming writer’s block and getting stuff done. Let me try and help you out with that!
5 Tips to Help You Deal With Writer’s Block as a Freelancer
Just telling someone to ‘power through’ writer’s block isn’t particularly helpful. What you can do is find ways to motivate yourself, which is where these tips come in.
1. Focus on a Niche You’re Genuinely Interested In
When I was a young, fresh-faced freelance writer, I took up almost every job opportunity that came my way. Rates and topics didn’t matter that much to me. I just wanted to get some work done and get paid. The problem is, it’s hard to find a lot of motivation to do your job well when you’re writing about slot machines or Viagra.
Nowadays, I mostly write about web development and freelancing in general. Both are topics with a lot of meat to chew on, so it’s pretty rare I get bored with my work. The takeaway here is, since you should focus on a specific niche as a freelance writer, it might as well be something you enjoy.
Finding a niche that you both like and where there’s work to go around can be complicated, to put it lightly. However, the web’s a big place and chances are you can find listings for topics you enjoy. Take a good look around writing job boards!
2. Set Up a Writing Schedule and Adhere to It
Movies would have you believe that writers just sit down and work whenever they fancy. In the meantime, they fill their time with outings to fancy cafes, hanging out with friends, and leisurely strolls along the park. Anyone who writes for a living will agree that’s complete bull.
One thing most prolific writers have in common is they treat their craft like a job. That means they try and stick to a regular writing schedule and not just do it when they feel like it.
As far as beating procrastination and writer’s block as a freelancer goes, this is the hardest change to make. For a lot of people, just forcing themselves to sit down and work is almost impossible. If you feel like that sometimes, you need to make an effort to try and break that pattern.
3. Make Time to Indulge in Your Hobbies
Sometimes I spend almost entire days writing and not necessarily because I have deadlines creeping up, but because I like it. However, the longer I go without taking a break and trying to be social, cook a nice meal, or go boxing, the more my work begins to suffer.
If you don’t make time to indulge in the things you like, writer’s block will creep in sooner rather than later. All work and no play isn’t just a dull lifestyle. It usually translates to writing sub-par content since you’re not giving yourself a chance to decompress.
4. Try Your Hand at Creative Writing
Since you’re reading this, I’m going to make a wild guess and assume you enjoy writing. Writing has always been a great outlet for me, so transitioning to it becoming a job wasn’t all that difficult.
What was complicated was finding a way to balance writing for work versus doing it for fun. It may be for you writing is just work, and that’s completely fine. However, if you like creative writing, then it can be a great way to bust through writer’s block and get your creative juices flowing once more.
Next time you feel that block creeping up, try pausing work. Instead, write about anything you feel like. Usually, once you get started, the block goes away rather quickly.
5. Join a Freelance Writing Community
The life of a freelance writer can be a lonely one. In a lot of cases, you’ll spend most of your time working alone, communicating only digitally with other people. That goes even if you’re the kind of person who likes to work in crowded cafes or co-working places – since everyone’s doing their thing, finding a sense of community can be tough.
However, you can find a lot of cool writing communities, both online and offline, if that’s more your speed. Creative writing communities are a dime a dozen these days. It’s usually pretty easy to find freelance or digital nomad groups.
Often, people join these communities for exactly the same reason. They want to meet other cool people who can understand the freelance life and decompress or talk shop together. When you’re in the middle of a writer’s block, it can be a huge help to have other people to talk to who get it.
Writer’s block is all too real. However, when your work is all about writing, it’s important to learn ways not to let your mood dictate your output. As a freelance writer, you’ll need to deal with constant deadlines, which means you’ll have to work through the pain, even when writer’s block strikes.
Ultimately, it all comes down to work ethic. However, there are several ways you can mitigate the impact of writer’s block and hopefully avoid it altogether, such as:
- Focus on a niche you’re genuinely interested in.
- Set up a writing schedule and adhere to it.
- Make time to indulge in your hobbies.
- Try your hand at creative writing.
- Join a freelance writing community.
What do you do when writer’s block strikes? Share your tips with us in the comments section below!
Image credit: Pixabay.