As a freelance journalist and writer, the dreaded blank ‘Word’ document is a sight that greets me every day. Although writing an article for publication via one of the many media outlets lends itself to a different method to writing fiction, writer’s block still hangs over some of us like the proverbial ‘black dog’. The only difference is that if an article or an interview has been commissioned there is, at least, a brief of some sort in place that can trigger the writing process. There will also usually be a deadline that has been set, something that for those of us who write up- to-the-wire is a helpful friend.
Waiting for inspiration to strike can be tortuous. The best tip and the one that works for me is to start writing… anything! Novelist Margaret Atwood summed the procedure up perfectly: “It I waited for perfection I would never write a word.” This technique of ‘write, write, write’ applies to any of the disciplines, whether penning your first masterpiece or composing copy for a blog post.
Break your writing up into short paragraphs that can be swopped around, lengthened or shortened and added to other pieces of content. Short sentences can be used as another tool to force you to focus on concrete ideas and, as before, they can be joined together to form more cohesive streams of creativity.
If a sudden flash of creativity strikes, it doesn’t matter where you are, jot it down. It may be in a restaurant, in bed or whilst driving the car. Use a notepad, the napkin or the ‘Notes’ app on your smartphone because, if you don’t, you can be sure that you will have forgotten that wonderful piece of inspiration when you try to recall it later. Even the odd word can spark off a stream of consciousness that leads you down a previously unexplored path.
Writing has a natural rhythm that takes on a life of its own, once you get past the starting line that is. Easier to say than do but relax and go with the flow. Editing can come later and more often than not, you will find that you look back at your output and realise that it really is better than you thought!