Let’s talk about writer’s block, and how you as a freelancer, no matter your profession, can and should put an end to it.
Table of contents:
- Can you do great work only when you are motivated?
- The myth of writer’s block
- The first rule of procrastination
- Practical steps to overcome writer’s block as a freelancer:
- Beat writer’s block with help of our accountability coaching program
- Related articles
Can you do great work only when you are motivated?
Let’s first make this one clear.
This is a misconception that I see everywhere – the idea that we need to be fully motivated and inspired to do great work. As any experienced professional and freelancer working in a creative field will tell you – that’s simply not the case.
There’s nothing in this world that can generate inspiration and motivation like the sound of a ticking clock and the rumble of a fast-approaching deadline.
The myth of writer’s block
We all like to imagine the struggle of artistry with a touch of hazy romance.
There’s something appealing about the idea of pacing back and forth for days until you’re hit by a sudden flash of inspiration, which sparks a wave of creative genius.
As freelancers, we simply don’t have that kind of luxury. We have to work to deadlines and we have to be able to deliver on-demand when we need to.
The good news is, the fact that we can do this, neatly proves that writer’s block is actually a complete myth.
The first rule of procrastination – Parkinson’s Law
In reality, most cases of writer’s block are actually caused by the foe of every freelancer – Parkinson’s Law.
This is the idea that work expands to fill the amount of time that is allotted to it.
So if you’re given a week to write an article, chances are you’ll finish and deliver the final product in almost exactly one week.
If you’re given two hours, on the other hand, you’ll move into overdrive and deliver it in two hours. And here’s the key – in most cases, the difference in quality will be minimal.
Having the luxury of time to play with often leads to nothing more than distraction and procrastination. We put off making progress because there are so many ways of approaching and tackling the problem at hand.
When a time limitation is set, we simply have to make decisions, commit to them and move forwards. We have no other option than to make our decisions work.
The truth is we tell ourselves all kinds of stories, and writer’s block is just a story.
Of course, you’ll naturally have more energy and motivation at different times. But as a professional, you have to train yourself in the art of being able to focus, knuckle down and do the work when it needs to be done.
I’m not saying this is easy, however. So here are some helpful tips that can help you put an end to writer’s block as a freelancer.
Practical steps to overcome writer’s block as a freelancer:
1. Get started on something
Often procrastination and writer’s block are caused by a lack of confidence in what we’re doing, or because we feel too intimidated about what we have to do.
In these cases, it’s best to just start and begin the process of moving forwards.
It’s a bit of a cliche, but starting the work really is the hardest part. But once you start working, you start building the momentum to keep moving forwards.
If you’re stuck, do a brainstorm and work out the very next step you need to take to move the project forwards.
Be specific – maybe it’s emailing a certain person, picking up the phone, or spending 20 minutes brainstorming.
Break the task down and take that first, toughest step forwards.
2. Use the Pomodoro Techinque
Another great way to sidestep the sense of intimidation when it comes to starting projects is to use my favourite productivity method – the Pomodoro Technique.
I’ve talked many times about how I use it, but the basic idea is to work in 25-minute chunks of time, taking short breaks in between each chunk.
This allows you to again break down projects into manageable sections.
You don’t need to think about the end result, you just need to work for 25 minutes.
3. Try a different way of working
Sometimes all you need to kickstart your creativity is a change of scenery or technique.
I do a lot of writing and one of my favourite hacks when I’m struggling to get words on paper, is to switch to dictating.
Computers and phones now have amazing dictation software baked right into them. You can start talking, and your device will transcribe it for you in real time, just like magic.
You’ll have to go through the text and tidy it up, but this can be a great way to get the juices flowing and to get away from the accusatory glare of your screen for a while.
I like to go for a walk to feel even more comfortable.
You might find that just grabbing your laptop and heading to a local cafe, or even switching rooms at home has the desired effect, however.
4. Come back to it
If you do have time, sometimes it’s better to simply switch gears and do something else for a while.
It’s easy to get stuck trying to solve a problem right there and then, when a better, more sensible approach might be to give yourself space and let your brain mull it over in the background for a while.
Often when you return you see things you couldn’t see before.
Do you have any other advice to add to this list? Let us know in the comments what you do, as a freelancer, to beat writer’s block!
Beat writer’s block with help of our accountability coaching program
We recently opened up our accountability coaching program Triple Your Output and our first freelancers are ticking through those key tasks!
If you struggle with self-discipline, or simply need someone to keep you accountable and on track, our accountability program can be a great option for you.
We have a 30-day free trial, so you really have nothing to lose, only to gain!