Seven ways to beat blank page syndrome

Writing can be a lot like building a house or cooking a meal. Once you’re some way into the task, it’s not too difficult to add to it, but it can be hard to get going if there’s literally nothing in front of you.

‘Blank page syndrome’ is the name given for the struggle many writers face in getting started. There are all sorts of stimuli for writing inspiration around us, but a blank computer screen or sheet of A4 paper is never likely to be one of them, so how do we give ourselves something to build upon?

1. Fill the page

One idea is to simply put content onto the page and not worry about its quality. You might want to start jotting down some ideas, drawing mind maps or simply doodling. You may end up using little of what you’ve produced, but it will help to give you ideas nonetheless. On the other hand, you might be surprised at the quality of some of what you produce.

In business, the somewhat tedious phrase ‘blue sky thinking’ is given to the practice of building thoughts not confined to real world limitations, and is meant to foster creativity.

2. Don’t start at the beginning

The beauty of word processing is that you don’t have to write in order. You might not know how to start or end your piece, but have a great idea for the middle, so why not start there? Opening a piece can be difficult, but once you have the main substance in place, it can often become easier to lead into it.

3. Get on the move

If your room or office isn’t doing it for you, try a change of scene. Go down to your local park, or take a train ride. Some people even like to take ‘writing holidays’ so that they can be alone with their literary thoughts in a brand new location.

4. Read

If you want to write, you have to read. Head to your bookshelf, or go online and look at similar work.

Turning to others for inspiration doesn’t convey weakness as a writer. In everything from dry professions like accountancy or law, to creative fields like music or literature, it’s always smart to look at how the very best are doing it.

5. Speak to others

Whether it’s general chatter or a request for an assessment of your work, seeking the assistance of friends and family can give you inspiration, and useful feedback to boot.

6. Give yourself a deadline

Nothing motivates us more than a looming date by which we need to get something finished. Whether it’s a short-term deadline (like writing 400 words in the next hour) or a long-term one (finish my novel by the end of the year), giving yourself targets encourages you to focus and not simply think “I’ll get it finished one day.”

7. Take a course

At Online Learning Academy, we have two fantastic courses that will leave you bursting with writing ideas and inspiration. The Freelance Writing for Businesses and Business Blogging for Beginners diploma courses are currently available at discounted prices.

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