Beating Writer’s Block #1 – Take It Step By Step

Writer's block hits when you skip steps in the blogging process.

Charles Bukowski supposedly once said, “writing about a writer’s block is better than not writing at all.”

As writing is a creative venture, it requires much more than simply going through the motions like many of us do during our nine-to-five day job. It’s not enough to just show up; you have to actively do something after you sit down at your keyboard. And it’s not always easy.

While doing my daily rounds through the blogosphere the other day, I came across an awesome post by Kevin J. Duncan on Be a Better Blogger revolving around beating writer’s block. His post is full of valuable tidbits of information to help get you started, but I’m wondering if Kevin even realized what he had on his hands when writing it.

While reading through his article, I thought to myself: “Each of these points could be an entire post on its own!”

And so, here we are.

Over the next few weeks, I’ll be diving deeper into Kevin’s words of wisdom and unpacking them for you. We’ll take a look at the how and why behind each piece of advice, and I’ll provide you with some valuable resources along the way.

So, let’s start off where Kevin began.

Kevin’s first piece of advice to those facing a bout of writer’s block is this:

“Tackle it One Bite at a Time”

When I had just gotten started with my blog (and other online writing), I routinely became overwhelmed whenever I came across established blogs and bloggers with hundreds, if not thousands, of posts under their belt. I simultaneously wanted to be one of them, and felt like I would never get there.

I had nothing in my portfolio. I had little to no experience. I was unsure of whether I could actually build up enough writing samples to get noticed. I felt stuck.

This feeling of intimidation often froze me in my tracks, unable to write a single thing.

Seeing the Forest, But Not the Trees

My main problem when I was just getting started was this: I was thinking too much of the big picture.

Ironic, isn’t it?

Usually, advice columns and whatnot will tell you to look at the big picture.

But when you’re just getting started – with anything, not just blogging – the big picture can be intimidating.

Don't be intimidated by established blogs. Let them inspire you.
Hard to believe they all started from tiny seeds, right?

As a fledgling blogger, it’s easy to get lost in the forest of established blogs already out there on the Web. It’s tempting to throw in the towel before you even get started, believing you’ll never be as big as some of the fully grown trees – I mean, blogs – out there.

In times like these, it’s best to do a little reverse engineering.

What I mean by that is, take a look at some of the blogs that intimidate you. Go allllll the way back to their first pages. Read the first few posts ever published by the author.

Chances are, they’re nowhere near as fine-tuned and effective as the more recent articles the author has posted. In fact, you might even have your doubts as to whether or not the same person even wrote them. It’d be like watching a tape of Michael Jordan the first time he ever picked up a basketball: Sure, you can see potential – but it’s certainly not superstar material.

What this will help you realize is that even the best of the best got started somewhere. Just as there was a point in time that Michael Jordan wasn’t the MJ we all recognize today, those big name, powerhouse bloggers who you could only aspire to be all that got their start the same way: With one single post.

Taking Steps and Understanding Their Importance

You’ve probably heard the old cliche: “A journey starts with a single step.”

So, what are the steps you need to take when writing a blog post? Among many, many others, you’ll have to:

  • Brainstorm
  • Research
  • Create an outline
  • Come up with headlines
  • Find multimedia to supplement your main points
  • Actually write the damn thing
  • Proofread and edit it countless times

If you just sit down at your keyboard and expect to bang out a flawless article…well, it’s no wonder you have writer’s block. It doesn’t happen that way.

Thinking you can create a perfect blog post without going through the proper steps just because you have a great idea is like thinking you can build a house without making a blueprint just because you have some bricks laying around.

Don't get blocked up because you didn't do the background work.
Someone didn’t do their prep work…

In both cases, you’ll be left standing there with a blank stare on your face, wondering what to do next.

You should never just dive into a blog post and hope for the best; you’re going to end up getting stuck somewhere along the way.

Instead, recognize the value of each of these steps – from prewriting to editing and proofreading – as part of the overall process that will help you become the successful blogger you aspire to be.

You’ll soon realize that each step you take along your journey is as important as the last.

Celebrate the Small Steps

I get it:

The reason you want to get started writing a blog post is you want to feel the satisfaction of a job well done. You feel like hitting that publish button will be the ultimate victory, and you want to get the celebration started as quickly as possible.

Nobody sees all that background work, so none of it really matters, right?

Well, not exactly.

First of all, if you just hack away at your keyboard without doing all that behind-the-scenes stuff, your readers will notice immediately.

Second of all, all of that other work absolutely does matter. You just have to reframe your way of thinking about it.

If you’re writing a blog post just to get it done, are you really even enjoying it? This isn’t some boring assignment given to you by your English teacher. You don’t have to do it. Nobody’s forcing you. You should be blogging because you want to blog.

What I mean to say is: If you’re going to write a blog, you better go all in.

Like I said before, all the background work is just as important as the actual writing. Learn to see it that way.

Instead of reserving all your celebration for after you hit “publish,” take the time to truly experience and celebrate each step you take in the process:

  • Show off your mindmap and brainstorming to friends, family – and even your audience.
  • Comment on blogs and posts you plan on linking to throughout your own post.
  • Ask for feedback from trusted sources based on your outline.
  • Save a copy of your first draft, and read it side-by-side your polished final one.

Creating the perfect blog post is a process, and there’s no getting around that. But once you reframe the way you approach this process, you’ll start to actually enjoy every step along the way.

The more effort you put into your blog posts, the more you’ll have to celebrate. If you rush through the whole ordeal, do you really even deserve to put on your party hat?

In my next post, I’ll revisit a topic I’ve already spoken a bit about: the importance of reading. I’ll share some insight as to what bloggers should be reading, as well as how they can find new material to read on a daily basis.

But for now, I want to know: What is your least favorite part of writing/blogging? What always gets you stuck? How will you change your mindset in the future so these steps start to become part of your routine, and so you actually begin to enjoy them?

Let me know in the comments below!


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