The idea of the writer who can’t find inspiration is everywhere in literature and movies. Writer’s block can be a fun cliché, but it’s also something you can’t afford to indulge in when you have looming deadlines and clients to keep happy.
As a freelance writer, a lot of your work life will come down to deadlines. That means you have very little room for laying around and waiting for inspiration to come. You need to be proactive and make inspiration happen.
Today, I’m going to walk you through my five approaches for dealing with writer’s block, besides drinking coffee and wasting time on social media. Let’s get to it!
5 Ways to Get Over Writer’s Block as a Freelancer
Waiting for writer’s block to go away on its own isn’t a practical solution. Here are five things that work for me to get the creative juices flowing again.
1. Look for a Temporary Change in Your Surroundings
I am very partial to working in the same places all the time. If I’m not in pajamas writing from home, I’m at a Korean cafe a couple of blocks away. If I feel productive, I’ll set up shop at a co-working space instead.
The upside of knowing your surroundings is you feel comfortable. However, when you get too comfortable it can hinder the creative process.
For me, nothing kickstarts new ideas better than working from someplace I haven’t been to before. That means finding a new cafe, bar, or anywhere else where I can comfortably sit down with my laptop.
If you’re sitting home right now, feeling like you don’t have it in you to pour new words onto the page, put on some pants and take a walk. Find someplace that looks cool and sit down to work.
2. Reward Yourself When You Meet a Deadline
It happens to me often. I have a looming deadline and my muses just aren’t playing ball. In that scenario, pushing your deadlines should always be a last resort.
What you want to do instead is find ways to motivate yourself. One thing that works for me – since I’m a pretty basic guy – is the promise of food.
If I can force myself to get work done when I’m not feeling creative, I get a reward. More often than not, it’s something delicious. In a way, I’ve been conditioning myself not to miss deadlines, which I’m sure Pavlov would approve of.
3. Try Getting Off the Chair and Exercising
There’s nothing worse than those annoying people that never shut up about exercise and how good it is for you. It helps you feel better, look better, and even think clearer.
I don’t want to be one of those guys, but hear me out – nothing kick-starts creativity like a little exercise. Whatever type of exercise you do, it should help distract yourself from all the work on your plate, at least for a little while.
In many cases, some of my best ideas come while I’m running or hitting a bag. Work is the furthest thing from my mind, but our brains never stop processing information, even in the background.
If you’ve been telling yourself you’re going to start exercising for a while, the next time you feel writer’s block coming on is the perfect time to start.
4. Look for an Accountability Buddy
For a long time, I was dead set against the idea of accountability buddies. The idea of having someone nag me all the time to make sure I got everything done was about as enticing as going back to an office job.
As it often happens, though, I was very wrong about what the experience of having an accountability buddy entails.
The thing that made a big difference, for me, was not partnering up with a stranger through some random online service. Instead, I got to talking with some freelancer friends who understand what my day to day looks like.
That understanding means when we push each other to meet our deadlines, we’re more likely to listen. If you want to make it more fun, though, you can also think up a few consequences for instances where you fail to meet your goals.
If there are no consequences to slacking off and letting writer’s block dictate your productivity, then you’re not going to see any improvement.
5. Push Through It
Normally, I’m very against anyone who tells anyone else to “just push through” anything bad that’s going on in their lives. When it comes to writer’s block, though, I’ll make an exception.
As a freelance writer, you’re getting paid to provide a service. You’re not writing for fun or for pleasure, you’re writing as a job. Ideally, you will find pleasure in writing, but for a lot of freelancers, the real reward is in the freedom you get from picking who to work for.
Our trade may be largely creative, but in most cases, clients will tell you exactly what they want. Your job is to do research, produce content based on those needs, and submit it on time.
If you can meet the three criteria with a high standard of quality, you’re already well ahead of most freelance writers. Letting writer’s block take control of your schedule, on the other hand, will put you near the back of the line.
It doesn’t matter if you’re a writer, a designer, a web developer, or even a candlestick maker; we all have periods of time when the creative juices don’t flow. The thing is, if you’re a freelance writer, you can’t depend on inspiration to do your job. If you do, that’s a quick recipe for failure.
The next time you feel writer’s block rear its ugly head, remember you’re in control, and there are plenty of things you can do to beat it, such as:
- Looking for a temporary change in your surroundings.
- Rewarding yourself when you meet a deadline.
- Getting off the chair and exercising.
- Looking for an accountability buddy.
- Pushing through it.
What do you do when writer’s block strikes you? Share your strategies for breaking through in the comments section below!
Image credit: Pixabay.