The trick to overcoming writer’s block is getting started. I learned a simple technique from my mentor Ros Petelin, whilst teaching professional writing at QUT. This works for reports, speeches, essays, even letters!
- Leave your headline, executive summary, punchlines and pithy endings until last; it’ll come easier then.
- Write down just the key words you want to say; bullet points will do.
- Then prioritise them into the order that fits your train of thought. If you JUST do this for now that’s ok, come back later or tomorrow if your deadline permits. The human brain’s impressive; it may keep mulling it over while you eat lunch!
- Now make each word into a sentence.
- Then write a supporting sentence or two to flesh out what you mean, crafting a paragraph of 2-3 lines.
- Do the same for every point.
- Stop and re-read; it’s easier to see the “flow” once all your points are made. Now is the time, not during your writing, for proofreading, spellchecking and editing. It’ s also easy now to give it a title or summary.
Still struggling? Try handing your key words to someone else and have them ask you what they mean and note your answer. Hey presto, collaborative writing my friend.
Writer’s block is a mental block and procrastination is based in fear – of failure, scrutiny, deadlines, etc, but it gets worse the longer you linger. Starting small with key words can clarify your purpose by focusing on what you really want to say and mapping them out gives your brain’s natural momentum a chance to kick in. If all else fails, you know who to call.