Internship Insider: 10 ways to beat writer’s block
“Writer’s block” can be beaten, but there are a lot of methods to experiment with.
Staring at a blank screen is one of the most terrifying and frustrating experiences for a writer. Especially when it’s happening on a frequent basis.
Yet, the imagination is boundless.
You’re not out of ideas. You just need to access them from a different angle every now and then.
There are endless options out there, so find what works for you. Chances are, as one method wears off after a while, you’ll have to vary your approach anyway.
Have a great addition to the list? Please share in the Comments section below!
In no particular order:
1. Talk to your favorite fellow sports junkie.
Give ‘em a call, text them at work or randomly show up on their doorstep at 4 in the morning. Talk about sports and (especially) the topic you’re hung up on. A good conversation will get your mind rolling again.
2. Change your tune.
To rock or not to rock while writing is a divisive topic: just as many swear by music’s presence as they do its absence. Whatever auditory strategy you normally use, try reversing it. Or just listen to something else for a change.
3. Walk away.
If not three minutes away from hitting that deadline, it’s good to flee your computer for a little bit. Take a jog, go to work, eat some cereal or just start writing about something else. Come back in half an hour or a day, and see where your new mindset takes you.
4. Role play.
Pretend you vehemently disagree with your original premise, that you’re watching this sport for the first time or that you’re writing about the topic 100 years later. Change your eyes to experience a different mindset. Costumes optional.
5. Start reading.
Get away from your beaten path (and websites) and start reading some new writers, websites and comment boards. You’ll find some you like, some that are garbage and a whole lot of new things to agree/disagree with.
6. Watch the game.
Sometimes it’s surprising how little we watch before we write. Give yourself enough time to scout your subject on tonight’s game, via YouTube or elsewhere. (NOTE: This is an absolute must when writing historical articles.)
7. Go to the sports bar.
It’s about finding as many outside opinions as you can. Go out and strike up conversations about the team or player you’re stuck with, gauging some real-world perceptions. (This time, ask for his/her number AFTER you’re done talking about sports.)
8. Ask your editor.
It’s not a sign of weakness to go back to your editor and admit you’re stuck. See what they were envisioning from the headline/angle they gave. Advice is part of their jobs; just give them enough time to do it. Don’t have an editor? Talk to mom. (She’s always good for advice.) Or just email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
9. Imagine you’re fighting Skip Bayless.
That article you’re about to write will be featured on national TV, and your premise is about to be attacked by Skip for no other reason than that it exists. Will you defeat him once and for all? The fate of humanity rests on your keyboard.
10. Write about having writer’s block.
OK, you caught me. But I actually followed my own advice and am happy where this ended up. Now, what strategies can you share with me?
* * *
Joel C. Cordes is Bleacher Report’s Sports Writing Internship Program Feedback Editor. Along with fellow editor Greg Pearl, he develops B/R interns by providing feedback and mentoring, the highlights of which are shared with the B/R Blog.