Make things for yourself— And assume nobody will ever see it. Then make it anyways. Art doesn’t need to justify its existence.
How to Beat Writer’s Block to Death
Writer’s block isn’t real.
Before I dive into specific tips to cure it, I must dispel the myth that it even exists.
Sure, you might fail to write as often as you’d like to, but it’s not because you suffer from some disease that makes you unable to write. It’s not some mysterious cloud hovering over your keyboard.
Writer’s block happens when you don’t have the right:
Let’s take a look at how to defeat writer’s block through these three lenses.
The Attitude You Need to Beat Writer’s Block
I overuse this quote because it’s so good.
“Writer’s block is a phony, BS, made-up excuse for not doing the work.” – Jerry Seinfeld
I understand what it feels like to want to be a writer yet never get any writing done. But that’s only because I never started. Once I started, I never quit. I’ve been writing every day for nearly eight years now because…I liked it.
I’ve always had so many things on my mind that I felt like saying but never said, but once I had a forum to say them I let loose.
Why don’t you?
Alex Hormozi said something that resonated with me:
You should seek to build an audience with your work, but even if you don’t, the act of writing in and of itself should be the reward.
Why do the words need to come out just right?
Why are you so worried about what other people might think?
Stop giving a fuck
You don’t write enough because you care too much. You think all of this is actually important when it’s not. You’re going to die soon and in three generations tops, nobody will remember who you are.
Why so stressed about getting some words out?
Sit down, move your fingers, and make words appear.
It’s not that hard.
Strategies to Help You Defeat Writer’s Block
If you want to write more easily, confine your writing to a structure.
You could easily write a post like this day in and day out for years about any subject using this structure.
First, choose a premise or a theme, the main point.
Next, your post looks just like this.
[introduce the main point]
[Supporting point #1 ]
- Sub-point 1
- Sub-point 2
- Sub-point 3
[Supporting point #2 ]
- Sub-point 1
- Sub-point 2
- Sub-point 3
[Supporting point #3 ]
- Sub-point 1
- Sub-point 2
- Sub-point 3
But most beginner writers won’t take the time to structure their ideas beforehand.
They’ll say things like “I want to be creative!” How can you be creative if you’re not creating anything?
“I just like to go with the flow.” How is that going for you?
“I don’t want to be formulaic.” These are just building blocks.
You will reach a point where you can write a more diverse array of styles. I rarely write listicles or simple how-to posts anymore. Treat basic blog post formats as gateway drugs to start writing more.
Just in Case You Haven’t Seen This Before, I’ll Quickly Re-Cap
Most of my long-term readers know this framework, but here’s a quick refresher for the uninitiated.
This is my exact writing process. It hasn’t changed in nearly a decade, I’m able to come up with an endless amount of ideas, and I never run out of steam.
- Every day I journal and write down 10 ideas for headlines I want to write. 20,000+ headlines over the years. Only a handful have to be good to support my career
- I store the ones I like in a Google doc
- Each day, I look through the doc and look at the idea I want to write for the day
- When I have an idea I want to run with, I mind-map the idea
- I turn the mind-map into a formal outline as I showed above
- I write the first draft and use the shitty first draft rule. Also, here are some tips to help you write drafts faster
- When it comes to editing, I edit no more than three times maximum
- Hit publish
These days, it takes me 2-3 hours to finish a blog post depending on the subject and how long it is.
- Mind-map/outline takes fifteen minutes max
- The first draft usually takes about an hour.
- Editing takes about an hour
I write and edit on the same day. Some people prefer to let their articles sit for a day. Either strategy works so long as every single day you’re either writing, editing, or publishing.
The More You Struggle With Writer’s Block, The More You Need to do This
A lot of writers struggle with writer’s block because they’re just all over the place. They haven’t landed on a topic to write about, don’t know who their audience is, and have no sense of the type of voice they want to create.
This is where taking the time to do pre-work comes in.
Pre-work includes things like:
- Audience research
- Problems/solutions framework
- Competitor analysis
Many writers struggle with writer’s block because they’re not observant.
We’ll dive deeply here in a little bit, but in general, just keep your eyes open to see what works.
Look at one of the first articles I ever wrote here.
It wasn’t great, but you can see I immediately understood that articles are supposed to have a premise. I intuitively understood that the blog posts used catchy headlines. And I just looked at other articles on that website and got a feel for what they’re looking for.
When I first started writing on Medium, there were no Medium courses available. I just had to figure it out and I did so by reverse engineering.
I didn’t need someone to tell me to put my posts in publications, I noticed that all the ones getting traffic were in them, so I submitted to them, too.
This speaks to what I said earlier about attitude. Be eager and willing to learn. Be proactive about figuring out what it takes to become a writer.
Now for the tips.
I’ve covered this extensively in other posts.
You can check them out here:
- How to Choose a Writing Topic
- How to Come Up With Things to Write About
- Endless Ideas for Blog Posts
Pro-tip: Go through and actually read and implement the advice in these posts.
Taking time to research who you’re talking to beforehand makes it much easier to write, which is why I put a heavy focus on audience research in my writing course.
Many readers say it feels like I’m speaking directly to them. I achieve that effect because I’ve gone well out of my way to try to understand who they are, what they want, what they’re afraid of, what they wish to become, and what they hope to avoid.
Use Problems/Solutions Framework
Here’s an easy exercise you can do to write more if your writing is more advice and how-to driven.
Write out every single problem your target audience faces. Do it until your mind is fried. Then, convert those problems into solutions. Solutions become the premises for your article that you can turn into headlines.
Let’s try a random subject instead of writing as an example.
Say you write about mindfulness and meditation.
Some problems your audience might face are:
- They can’t sit still for 10 minutes
- They can’t meditate because they’re not ‘good at it’
- Their minds are cluttered due to stress and life events
These become solutions you can turn into headlines:
- How to Meditate for 10 Minutes (Even If You Can’t Sit Still to Save Your Life)
- 5 Easy Meditation Tips for People Who Absolutely Suck at Meditating
- How to De-Clutter Your Mind and Reduce Stress
You then use the writing process I laid out earlier to get the articles done. Easy peasy.
Use the Right Resources to Defeat Writer’s Block
For one thing…
Even when it comes to free resources, nothing will work unless you actually use the information.
Most writers will read posts like this that contain step-by-step instructions and links to helpful resources. Then, instead of following the steps exactly as they are laid out, they’ll skip the hard steps or avoid doing any steps at all.
I’d guess that less than five percent of people who read these posts will actually click through and read the links I shared in this post. Most writers can’t even read a handful of 2,000-word posts. How do they expect to write them?
Will you be different?
Every once in a while, I find a new writer I get excited about because I know they’re hungry. Since they are hungry, they will listen to me. Since they listen to me, I bend over backward to help them.
So many newbies want me to be their mentor but they don’t read and implement the advice I’ve spent years and countless hours making. Why would I want to help them?
Going to my website filled with detailed articles and contacting me to pick my brain instead of reading those articles is lazy. I can work with a lack of skill or lack of clarity, but I can’t tolerate laziness.
There are so many resources available to you that can help you advance your writing career, but none of them will work if you don’t use them.
I’m very generous with my time and effort. I have dozens of free videos on YouTube. I’ve written dozens of detailed guides with exact steps. Don’t hit my inbox until you’ve used those resources, period.
The Ultimate Resource
Take my online course that teaches you how to write well and make money on Medium.
I’ve been writing for seven years. Everything I’ve learned is put into one place, listed out in chronological order, with templates, frameworks, writing tips, you name it.
Invest in yourself. You spend comparable amounts of money on useless stuff all the time and you know it.
Most of my students start making at least $100 a month very fast. It’s a no-brainer decision. I have students making their investment back from single articles, regularly, and some do so in as little as 30 days.
You get access to monthly coaching calls with me for life where you can pick my brain as much as you want. I give students feedback on articles. I describe all of my writing methods, why they work, and how to implement them.
Up to you.
I don’t need to sell that hard. I’ve been writing on Medium for…forever.
To date, I’ve made more than $429,000 articles on the website.
And working with me is a decision you have to think about?
Here’s the link to the program if you’re finally serious about beating writer’s block and making a living with your words.