Saturday Morning Chit Chat, Taboos and other Psychological Blocks or 9 Tips for Breaking Them.

9 Tips for breaking writers blockI’ve been struggling the last few weeks with writers block…well more like writers distraction.  If my Saturday posts were called Saturday Night chit chat I would have been fine. I just completed a ranty little post on sex and politics, but even I have to refrain from that kind of discussion first thing in the morning. I could have also shared my concerns over poor voter turnout, public disengagement, the unseemly relationship that sometimes exists between reporters and politicians and no I’m not skipping back to sex and politics, but you can see a certain theme emerging here. I have very definite political opinions, but I don’t see them as necessarily appropriate for public consumption or appetite. I have a taboo against writing too deeply on politics.

Taboos are interesting things.  I know that some taboos find their origins in religion or culture and they can be good and bad. Clearly having a cultural taboo against randomly killing people is a good thing, but having a cultural taboo against girls being educated, not so much. What about personal taboos? Those taboos whose origins are more individual in nature?  My own taboos around writing about politics is a good example.  I have strong opinions in this area and while I would freely give advice on how to engage and even that you should engage, I hesitate to go beyond that because it’s part of my job to work with governments.  Political people have a tendency towards paranoia (except people really are out to get them) and it’s easy to see yourself or your opponent in critical discussions, so I try to avoid misinterpretations by simply skipping those kinds of public exchanges. I also think that politics is one of the best dividers out there. Want to start a fight?  Strike up a conversation about politics and sooner or later you’ll find something to fight over.

So what do you do when you can’t seem to write about anything but the very subject you’re trying to ignore? Back to writers block. So what I’ve been doing is writing the issue out of my system posting them on a private blog.  I’ve also been exploring.  Looking at interesting blogs, articles and books in hopes that something  catches my attention. Right, everything has captured my attention.  There isn’t rabbit hole I haven’t jumped through. A point of inquiry I haven’t followed and still no useful posts.

So I finally ended up treating myself like a client.  I want my best advice on what to do to get past writers block. Here’s what I had to say.

1) Take a break. Step away from the project and do something else.  Give your mind an opportunity to rest or shift gears. Sometimes the harder you push for a solution, the further you get from finding an answer.

2) Create an Editorial calendar. Now would be a good time to create an editorial calendar if you don’t have one and to refresh your existing one if you do. With the fall coming people will be attending conferences and getting back into the swing of things.  What can you contribute that might help?

3) Turn off social media.  The internet can be an amazing distraction.  It may seem like a handy resource but it’s easy to get lost in all of the options it has to offer. Disconnect and see if that will help you to focus.

4) Get some alone time:  People are wonderful, but if you are having a hard time staying on task then they are like moving, noisy shiny distractions.

5) Find another creative outlet.  It’s obvious your mind is racing, so paint, garden, do something that gets the creative juices flowing but is unrelated to writing.

6) Do some physical exercise. The body and mind are connected.  If you have been solely focused on writing, whether it’s writing your blog or other pieces, then you haven’t been exercising. The movement will help you to think better.

7) Research some outstanding questions. Get the answers to questions that have been plaguing you.  What areas of communications, public relations or management would you like to learn more about?  Do the research and share your findings.

8)  Have a pretend conversation. Start writing as if you were having a chat with someone and see if the stream of consciousness that follows gets you going.

9) Ask others what they do to get their focus back.  The issue may be writing for you, but it’s really a focus challenge.  Find out how others have solved similar challenges and see if you can extrapolate from there to address your own challenge.

So, it’s Saturday morning and this blog post has been automatically posted because I am away at a cottage with no internet connections…I’m probably painting, but maybe I’ve gone for a walk with my husband to get a little exercise. I’ll write Tuesday’s blog in the car ride on my way back.  🙂

What do you do to get past writers block or other psychological hurdles?  I’d like to know…really!

Our results from last weeks poll reveal that voters were not so keen on the idea of a glowing plant. Almost 37% called it a Franken-flower and more than 52% weren’t sure what to call it. A mere 5% thought it was a power plant and another 5% had other ideas all together.

About Debra Yearwood

Experienced communications and public relations executive who manages challenges with an eye on outcomes and a sense of humour. Learn more about how I think at https://commstorm.com/ Learn more about my experience at ca.linkedin.com/in/debrayearwood/
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16 Responses to Saturday Morning Chit Chat, Taboos and other Psychological Blocks or 9 Tips for Breaking Them.

  1. I definitely identify with how the Internet can be a huge distraction. My goal is to note be on any sites or my email until after I put my allotted three hours of morning writing time. If I don’t work on my book in the morning, it never gets done. In my younger days, I had no writing taboos, Which if funny, because that is when writing would get me the most charged up. Granted, I still share politically minded posts on my personal Facebook page, but I do try to be mindful of rubbing people the wrong way. Then I wonder, but why?

    • That’s a great plan. It used to work well for me (not three hours, but enough time to get me started on an idea) but I’ve been finding that I write better at night lately. This may be a reflection of my holidays and simply shifting to a new schedule, but think I’ll start getting up early again. Taking the break and going away from all connections for a few days was amazing. I don’t want to get preoccupied again.

      I don’t even express my opinion on my Facebook page and generally ignore comments from my friends who do. 🙂 It’s just too easy for people to get unpleasant that I’d prefer not to engage. The only time I veer from that is if you tell me you don’t vote. I won’t engage on who you vote for, that’s your business, but I do care that you vote. Funny the imaginary lines we can draw.

  2. Debra, the best way for you to get rid of your writer’s block is to stop feeling you have to write such long articles.

    For online reading it’s much better to write short posts. And it has the benefit that it makes it easier for us:-)

    • Good idea. I’ve been so trained to the two page briefing note that I tend to do it automatically. It isn’t necessary and I don’t particularly care for long online articles myself. I quite enjoyed the one you just posted on Sunday and thought it was thought provoking and yet, it was very brief. Sometimes the obvious isn’t that obvious. 🙂

  3. I have actually been lucky and found ideas for posts come as I post. ie. each week when I really think about it, I have an idea of something I did not know or do not know and then I post about it. Sometimes I am even amazed at what I find during the research. Like the reverse google search, which now I am telling everyone about and no one really knows.

    But I do focus on problems I have seen, questions that are asked.

    As for not getting distracted. The more social media style tools I use, the worse that becomes. I have to focus on a deadline, write and then I lose control after that. I am now starting to focus on side projects which keeps me a bit inline. But it is tough.

  4. Usually when I am blocked it means that I have too much I am trying to get out at once. What works best for me is a purge. I go back to timed writing even for something I wouldn’t normally time. I then just start putting down the thoughts as they come to me. Before you know it I am freed up again and have it written.

    • That feels very much like what was happening with me. I had so much running through my head and I couldn’t seem to get any of it out coherently. So I started writing bits and bites, most of it not what I wanted on the blog, but apparently I couldn’t get to my blog content without getting it out of my system first. 🙂

  5. Diana says:

    Interesting post, Debra! morning or evening, it’s a great chit chat you have here for us every Saturday so please, call it whatever you want as long as you keep it up 😉

    Anyways, writers block. ll good tips here, some of them i use myself but let me help you by sharing a tactic which almost every time works best for me – take a notebook and a pen, go to the park (or your garden – anywhere, as long as it is outdoors) and free your mind. Not sure why, but writing content the old fashioned way works for me best! Hop this helps.

    P.S. i wish i could write such great posts (like this one) when i had writer’s block 😛

    • You are so spot on Diana! I was sitting on a patio by myself overlooking a lake when Tuesday’s post just popped into my head. I had basically written it before I had time to over think it. Without the internet and email (or my kids) to distract me I had no interruptions. I’ll be trying that again, it worked so well.

      Thank you for the compliment, Saturday’s post was more of a stream of thought, I had no idea where I was going when I started it.

  6. More often than NOT knowing what to write, I cannot get to writing that blog post, etc, which I really want to, and it’s probably for the same reasons you mentioned: other things come first or there are shiny, moving distractions. Recently I decided to pull back on the social outings and be more choosy. What do you know…it has given me more time to write!
    Another idea when blocked – repost something old or even take an old post and update the idea to something current. If it was about cleaning the bathroom, for example, do one on cleaning in the kitchen.

    • I have been on vacation for a week and thought I ‘d be writing like crazy, but that hasn’t happened yet. I’m think I may have broken through by disconnecting for a few days. I’m keeping my fingers crossed.

      I like the idea of reposting, I just would like to get enough blogs under my belt first to make it reasonable. I thought that if I could do the blog with original posts for one year, then I could consider reposting. November will be a year.

  7. I have SOOO been there. It’s funny. I have a plethora of ideas but I am blocked by a thought that people would fin what I have to say interesting. Thus my survey. I think all your suggestions are worth doing and I should take some of my and your advise and take a break form all of it for a while.

    As far as Taboo’s in writing? I stay as far away from politics and religion in what I write as possible. I even have a difficult time responding to political blog posts my friends write. The fallout of expressing my beliefs is just not worth it. I express those in how I vote and what I say to God. 🙂

    • Right there with you Susan and maybe I should try a survey myself. At this point however my blog has been so exploratory that I’m not sure what the categories would even be, but maybe I should find out. 🙂 I’d advise a client to know their market…

      Ah yes religion, that is definitely a private discussion for me, even more so than politics. What are the three things we are never to discuss at the dinner table? Sex, politics and religion, I think I can skip them on my blog as well.

  8. Simone Hart says:

    I find putting the writing aside for awhile and doing something pleasant that keeps my mind active works for me. At 2 am I will usually wake up with ideas!

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