7 Can’t-Miss Ways To Kick-Start The Writing Habit

Blogging can bring your business exposure, credibility, and whole lot more revenue – so it’s in your best interest to deliver a steady stream of powerful writing. But for a lot of us, that’s a tall order. If you’re finding your creative juices running a little dry, this list of quick and easy tips is sure to get them flowing again.

  1. Write nothing but headlines. Sometimes the thought of writing an in-depth article is too much for your brain to deal with after a long day (or at the start of one). Spend 15 or 30 minutes just churning out headlines without worrying about how catchy they sound. You may not be in the mood to write an article from scratch, but if you keep building a collection of headlines you give yourself a ton of options. The more headlines you add to your list, the more likely you’ll find something you’re in the mood to write on at any given moment.
  2. Write ‘crap’ without feeling guilty. We tend to assume that great writers write great stuff all the time. Face it – they don’t. Professional writers write even when nothing but crap comes out because they know that it’s part of the journey to getting the real gems. Steve Allen said to “write for the trash can,” meaning write without reservations about what people might think, just to keep your writing skills in shape. Try it when you’re feeling stuck – it really works.
  3. Schedule regular time and show up, even if you think you can’t write. Sometimes your brain will freeze, your motivation will leave you, and your car won’t start. Showing up at your keyboard will solve two of those problems. If you’ve scheduled 8am to 9am to write, and you sit there for an hour and nothing comes out, you’ve still followed through on your appointment. When you sit down tomorrow your chances of breaking writer’s block skyrocket. I’ve never met anyone who followed through on showing up and had long term writer’s block. When you show up, you’re subconsciously telling yourself that you’re serious about writing … and that sets you up for a win.
  4. Write about how you solved a problem. People like stories; it’s just how we’re wired. The good news is, you’re already good at telling stories because you do it all the time in everyday conversation. Whatever the topic you write on, think of a time you worked through a problem or fixed someone else’s dilemma. Because you’re just telling what you already know, the creative pressure is off and you can just talk through what happened (and educate the reader in the process).
  5. Edit older articles. Go through your previous blog entries and make them better. You’ve had a chance to forget what you wrote about, so you’ll come to it with a fresh eye and an ability to improve what was there before. It’s like dipping your toes in the water to get yourself used to the temperature – soon you’ll be ready to jump in. And the articles you edit may give you great ideas for new ones to boot.
  6. Type out other people’s articles. This may sound odd, but it can get your gears unstuck. Jump to a blog you love, open up a text editor, and just start typing out your favorite articles. You’re not doing anything creative, but you’re writing all the same. It’s like a warm-up walk before you start running. A side benefit that comes from this is that when you type out other people’s sentences, you can become a better writer, because you’re ‘tasting’ different styles of stringing words together.
  7. Add your tips to this list in the comments section below. Don’t be afraid – leave a comment right now with your best writing tip. If you don’t have one, just write about how you’re going to use one of the above tips in the next 24 hours. But above all, write something right now. Get that brain unfrozen and that motivation rising. (but about that car that won’t start … I can’t help you with that).

Keep it rocking

Comments

  1. says

    I agree with every single one of these points! As a writer by profession, getting “stuck” isn’t an option. I’ve learned to just start writing and figure out the angle along the way. What you take out might be a whole new article in and of itself.

    Another think I do is read something related if I’m uninspired. This is an awesome way to get in the groove Oftentimes, I’m struck by inspiration in the middle of reading something and jump over to Word and start going mad on the keyboard as the ideas flow out of seemingly nowhere.

    Great post!

  2. says

    I love number two – very reminiscent of Anne Lamott’s “sh*tty first draft” theory. Christine made a great point – writer’s block is a luxury for which only amateurs have the time.

    My best trick is setting a timer. When I’m doing writing for myself, I have no problems. But when I’m doing freelance stuff, the boredom sometimes makes me want to weep. I set a timer for 5, 10, or 15 minutes and just go, giving myself complete permission to quit after that. I usually get a boatload done and afterwards I don’t have anything hanging over my head.

    Great tips, Dave!

  3. says

    @Christine –

    I just found your blog last night after writing this – can’t wait to read more (it was 1am, so I didn’t get far). Thanks so much for your tip!

    @Naomi –
    Anne Lamott rocks. I love her articles on Salon.com. Good tip with the timer – thanks! (Checking your blog out now)

  4. says

    @ Naomi – I love the timer idea. I have tried that a few times and I don’t know why I don’t do it more often. I use it to set a limit for how long I have to complete a writing project. Otherwise, it can be tempting to go off on too many tangents or over-research for the project. It really does work!

    @ Dave – great! I always enjoy your posts here very much. You always seem to bring interesting perspectives and actionable content in a very personable way. :)

  5. says

    Great post. Especially agree with point 3. Building that internal discipline is a great way to get going when you really don’t feel like it.

    One trick that works well for me is to imagine myself having a conversation with someone who’s asking a lot of questions about whatever subject I want to write about. The conversational style helps overcome the block of putting pen to paper (or typing!), and the inquiring nature helps me come up with the flow of the article.

    Next time you’re truly stuck, give it a go.

  6. says

    To deal with my long-term writer’s block, i just started banging out random impressions of books I’ve read. Not proper reviews, mind you, just my impressions. The thought here is if you just talk about something made you feel, you’re working the right muscle to do an article/feature from scratch later on.

  7. says

    Thanks for the list, it is a good one… I try my hardest to write a high quality content post every day, but realistically we all know it is almost impossible to keep up, and if you think that is the only thing you can ever post you will quickly become disappointed.

    Lists like the one you did here is a good example. If I am having trouble with a post, a top 10 list or something like that is a good way to get thinking again. I try to use them with caution, I don’t want just a top 10 site, but they get you thinking.

    I also try to have some posts sitting in the wing that I can publish when I don’t have time or can’t think of anything to say. Thanks, Scott

  8. Jeff says

    What should I do if I want to start writing (e.g. a blog), but have no idea where to start, what to write about, and how to build a habit out of it?

    The tips on this page seem wonderful, but I’m not a writer to begin with

  9. John Q says

    This list sure is interesting to me because I’m the most procrastinating writer on the planet. In fact, until I read this list, I’ve known only one single method to get myself started writing something, regardless of the deadline. That method is to explore as much intellectually stimulating material as you possibly can that has nothing to do with what you want to write about. Just keep exploring – surfing the internet is my preferred means, but there are other ways and other media — to the point where your brain has become so saturated that you know you’ve had enough. Then go back to your writing. You might have to rest a little while first – perhaps even for an hour or two — as you might feel physically drained as well. This never fails to get the ideas and words flowing for me, and I bet it won’t fail you either. It is as if you’ve cast a huge wave of cerebral energy over a long shore, and when that massive water starts rolling back to sea (when you are too tired to continue your intellectual exploration) its great force is bound to move that tiny pebble that you’ve been trying to put in motion — the idea that you’ve been trying to sort out, and express on paper.

    It’s not the quickest way to get started, but it works. I’m hoping that Dave’s tips above will work just as well, but faster!

  10. says

    Outlining. Remember doing idea webs in school? Yeah, I thought they were epically dumb then, but I’ve since learned that outlining — any kind of outlining — is exceptionally useful. I have the most bizarre collection of notebooks, post-its, highlighter-color-system, but it works! Especially when working on a very large writing project, outlining is not only necessary just to put it all together, but can let work on specific sections, not necessarily in sequence.

  11. says

    I like to write too… I even will know what to write about, but I have a problem.

    I know the starting point (the problem), and the ending point (Solution to the problem). Issues exist with how to fill inthe gap in the middle.

    What I feel I should do is to NOT assume anything about my readers… and explain to them, with great details, every little point, assumptions, etc.

    This way, I can write out the problem in a paragraph or two, then add in more nuts and bolts about miscellaneous information, and have a conclusion.

    There, I’ve just written A LOT for my self. I wish i had written this on my blog.

  12. says

    I like to set a short time (5-10 minutes) and write headlines on a random topic.

    Then go through the headlines specifically with “don’t bury the lead” in mind, and write some new headline / subheads for another few minutes.

    Third pass through, I see if any of the headlines are related into one article and I group them, adding any new ideas.

    With the list I’ve now got, I look to see if I’ve got the outline (headline and sub sections) of a single article, if I have I start to piece it together, if not I start again on another topic. I’ll do this for a maximum of an hour. It’s a surprisingly quick way to generate an article when “uninspired”.

  13. says

    Thanks, Dave! This was an outstanding article. I found myself writing headlines over the weekend and was carried away in a hurry.

    One thing I’ve done a few times is go to a quiet place to hang out – mine is a bar that’s never busy. Bring a pen and something to write with and sit in front of the television. Between people talking and news, sports, etc., it stimulates thoughts that under other circumstances, one might dismiss as fleeting or meaningless.

    I also love to write in my stream of consciousness. I can just start writing about anything and from one topic to the next. When I get stuck, or bored, I go back to reading my headlines and the free association generates more of them.

  14. Pedro says

    Yeah, one thing I think really helps is writing just for the sake of it. I have to commute to work everyday by train and I use those 2 hours to write in my little black book, no matter if I feel like it or not. And it helps a lot to find the inspiration to write nice stuff (after having written a lot of crap, of course :))

  15. Citizen42 says

    Hey Thanks! This article makes me realize how many excuses I have for not writing and sharing my own thoughts.

    Awarness bites.

  16. says

    The best method that works for me when writing is to think of a subject, and freewrite without stopping for about ten minutes. After that ten minutes, I review what I just wrote and can edit out all the mistakes.

    My favorite technique for editing a paper is by reading it out loud to yourself or to a friend. This way, you’ll find that some parts of your paper don’t flow as well and you can reword it easier.

    Easy reading is hard writing!

  17. says

    I’ve kept a journal for years and it has really helped me organize my ideas without having the pressure of sitting down and typing out a blog.

  18. says

    Just one piece of advice working great with me :

    When you are finishing a writing session stop before to be dry. Just write ideas with bullet points and stop here. Even in the middle of a paragraph.

    At the following session you will know what you wanted to write next and most of the time it will be enough to keep going.

    Keep it rolling

  19. says

    Reading other posts, and commenting on other posts seems to get the juices flowing.
    If there is a post that I am working on that seems to not be happening, I will just put some “trash can quality” content down, not publish, and then come back to it in the morning.

  20. says

    I try and write so that a person with no knowledge of the subject can read it without be bored to death. I work in an Industry that is pretty dry and has medical terms. If you don’t describe things in simple terms, you tend to lose most people. I really liked the article.

  21. Morgan says

    A couple of things that help get me writing when the motivation isn’t there:

    1. I commit to one scene a day (I write screenplays). This I always do and while it doesn’t sound like much, over the course of a month that amounts to 30 scenes, which is an enormous chunk of a movie, in some cases almost the entire picture. But most of the time I end up getting inspired after I have been writing a few minutes and often I end additional scenes. So, no matter what you are writing, commit to writing a specified small amount each day.

    2. Write something else as a warm-up. It can be difficult to summon inspiration for long-form writing projects. If you have a hard time motivating yourself, write something else, whether it be a blog entry, a poem, a short story or anything else that tickles your fancy. This gets the creative juices flowing since it’s exciting to start something new and while your creativity is stimulated you can bring that newfound enthusiasm to your main project.

    3. Try, if you can, to write in the early morning. This is a time when you haven’t been stressed out and/or exhausted by the stress events of a typical day. Your mind is clear and you’re more relaxed emotionally, which enables you to focus more and unleash your imagination, which will not be hindered by the preoccupations of daily life.

    4. Play some relaxing music. Music can change your mood and your mindstate, helping you to temporarily escape from reality, which is exactly what a writer needs to do in order to tap into their fantasy life. This applies to non-fiction writing as well because though the topic is real, the writing is still creative.

  22. says

    These are good tips and ones which I have found works – although I didn’t know about the headline thingy.

    When I was young, I prayed and longed to be a writer. My wish came true. I should have prayed to be a storyteller. I can write technical reports, instructions for operating machinery and computer programs (with circles and arrows and all manner of helpful descriptions), but alas no stories. With a minor in English, I know enough to know I write shallow, commonplace stories with no originality – but well written.

    Anyway, as for my tips. This is sort of reinforcement or an excuse for doing tip 2 and 3. What many would-be writers don’t realize is that writing is like playing a musical instrument or running in a marathon. How would a musician perform if they waited until the day of the performance to start playing? How long would a running last if they didn’t run until the day of the marathon. So too, writing must practice daily or at least regularly, so when inspiration strikes, trying to formulate grammar or syntax will not get in the way and the words will flow and not get in the way of thoughts.

    Another tip. Blog. Blogging is a way to exercise you writing skills as mentioned above. This is oh so much better than keeping a diary, log, or journal for one very good reason: you are published. You’re out there, baby! It may not be read much and only get the random reader than even the lowest blogs get, but you will get some, and if you write something noteworthy or pithy, maybe even a comment. Even though I write technical reports, the constant practice of blogging has help when it’s time to do so.

    One more tip. Stream of conscious writing. Just start writing and see come out the end of the pen or those keyboard clicking fingers produce. I started to just leave a few comments but here I am running on and on.

    Came by way of digg. Bookmarked. I’ll be back.

  23. says

    Wow – Every reader has shared such excellent points! Another thing that can be especially difficult when writing for clients… is when the topic doesn’t really interest you! Some that come to mind that I’ve written about are plastic injection molding and brazed plate heat exchangers. When you have a project like this, it can take much, much longer than if you are passionate about the topic.

    In this case, I do something that may seem really simple and perhaps kind of ineffective – but it really works for me! I refocus and repeat this mantra to myself when doing research on the topic…

    “This is the most interesting thing I have ever read!”

    I suppose it works to trick my mind into engaging in the topic on a deeper level. I mean for some people – this stuff IS their passion! When I can try to get inside their minds, the project becomes more fun and exciting – and that really gets things moving along.

  24. says

    @kosman -
    Reading out loud is a great idea.

    @hoi
    Journaling is good too … I’ll bet when you start at the beginning of it and read forward you generate new ideas as well.

    @benjamin
    Bullet points are definitely a good way to make it easy to pick back up. Thanks for the tip.

    @quaid
    Considering different audiences’ pints of view is a good tip – thanks!

  25. says

    Holy comments, Batman! I like the idea of “This is the most interesting thing I’ve ever read” because Yowza Some of the stuff i have to do is boring. it’s true, that’s the stuff that’s the hardest to get motivated over. There’s only so much excitement you can drum up about baseboards, but I’ll give that idea a try. Anything’s better than what I’m doing now. :)

  26. says

    @Morgan & scout29c –
    Wow, I think you two combined wrote more than I did :-) Definitely going to have to have a follow up article …

    @Christine –
    Tricking your mind is a beautiful thing. Thanks for the tip!

  27. says

    I got ‘crapped’ by number 2! :lol: One of my biggest problems in writing is my hesitation to write words that might be offensive to readers and so I avoid using words like ‘crap’ as much as possible. But, yes, it does have an effect on how I write and has probably added to my continuing writer’s block.

    As for the presence of pressure when writing, sometimes it actually works for me when I’m pressured. I write out everything that comes to mind in that short period of time and just revise it later. The results are generally good!

  28. says

    @Naomi –
    “Anything’s better than what I’m doing now.”

    Take a moment to remember how privileged you are to be paid to what you’re great at. That may help get you a little more motivated.

    BTW, I just subscribed to your blog. Good lookin’ stuff.

  29. says

    Thanks, Dave! I like subscribers. A lot. If anyone else feels the need to do so, I provide free waffles to all subscribers I meet in person. (Don’t worry, I don’t actually cook the waffles myself. That would hardly be an incentive.)

  30. Duke says

    Read the dictionary. A pocket version of webster’s works well.

    Read a page a day and highlight any ‘interesting’ words you find. Then, when you need inspiration, flip through and browse all of the highlighted words.

  31. says

    brilliant link this, that a kind and caring friend sent me. i agree with the showing up tip. Once we do it regularly there’s no doubt the universe gets the message that we are serious. I’m on my way .. If ony ‘inspiration would strike me at 9.00 am sharp’ a la somerset Maugham!!
    I just need to get beyond the fear of ‘Oh god I haven’t got a good opening line so I won’t start. Headlines or indeed any sort of ramblings would be better tthan my blank page which is about as afar as i’ve dared go in recent weeks.
    thanks for starting me off………

  32. says

    Great tips!

    Regarding tip #2, a really useful and inspiring further resource is “Wild Mind” by Natalie Goldberg, as well as her book “Writing Down the Bones.” Both very helpful for kickstarting techniques.

    In addition to “setting a writing appointment” every day, I also use the technique of “timeboxing” at other times in the day when I have say a 20-30 minute break between tasks or some brief free time between meetings. Granted, writing often requires longer periods of mental focus (that’s what the “appointment” time is for), but it’s amazing what you can do sometimes in just a brief, spontaneous period of intense writing.

    Keep up the great advice!

    DK

  33. says

    Try what I call “Five Words.”

    It’s what it sounds like. Commit each and every day to sitting down and writing a minimum of five words.

    They don’t have to be good words. You do have to attempt to make sense and advance toward your objective (“The End.”) The Five Words can’t just consist of writing the same word five times, unless for some reason that’s actually called for.

    If you do your Five Words, you are okay with yourself for today: you don’t have to do more.

    Of course, you can. As you no doubt guessed, the ideal, and eventual goal, is to write more. You’re trying to trick yourself into a state conducive to writing. You’re also trying to create a habit of going there daily.

    There’s nothing magical about the number five. The point is to set a goal so low it’s just near-impossible not to reach it. Again, the keys are “state” and “habit.”

    This technique serves me, and various others who’ve tried it, pretty well. It can apply to other endeavors than writing: come up with some other simple quantum of any task, such that it’s more trouble to talk yourself out of doing it than just doing it.

    One caveat: the Five Words technique may not help you get as much done as you desire or need to on a daily basis. For that the suggestions offered above are well worth trying. The first step toward producing enough every day is producing every day. “Five Words” is an easy way to build that fundamental habit.

  34. says

    @Stuart –
    Great tip. “Answering questions” is a lot easier to deal with than “coming up with something good from scratch.

    @Zacharias –
    Good tip, I haven’t thought of doing reviews before. It sounds like a good way to “stretch” your writing muscles.

    @chipseo –
    @Excellent point – in fact, lists are a great way to spawn articles (write longer articles giving more details on each list bullet)

  35. says

    @Jeff –
    Quick answer to your question: 1) Read problogger.com, 2) Pick a single theme to write about and make it your brand.

    @JohnQ –
    Let us know how the tips work out & if they help you get into gear faster!

    @alex
    Outlining is like headline writing – it gets you focused on what to write about (and compartmentalizes it). Thanks for bringing it up.

    @NevilNayak –
    Don’t wish you wrote this … instead, write your take on it on your blog.

    @Liam –
    Sweet tips! Thanks for sharing.

    @Pedro –
    You’ve got it. :-)

    @Citizen42
    Awareness is curative if you let it be. Write! :-)

  36. says

    Limit your writing time. Give yourself 15 minutes to think of an idea, write something pithy, title it, publish it, view and edit it. This is not something you can do every day, but it’s good for a jolt of adrenaline and removal of noise from your head. In a word, focus.

  37. says

    This is an absolutely wonderful entry, and the comments have made it fascinating! I’m on my third published book, but I keep learning new things all the time.
    I can add only one technique, but it’s the one that works for me when nothing else does…
    Mind Maps — visual lay-outs of your thinking that give you an overview without holding you to a linear outline.

  38. says

    @Jon –
    Thanks for the tip!

    @Tessa –
    Inspiration has a 9am appointment with you. Keep showing up ’till it’s the right day :-)

    @Daniel & Victor –
    Thanks for the kick-start advice.

  39. Manav says

    I have been procrastinating writing my b-school application essays which are due NOW! (well, almost…there’s hardly any time left), and this article should definitely help me get started.

    Since I find myself in the company of professional writers here, if someone has any specific comments or ideas for the following essays (paraphrased) I need to write, it would be awesome if you could share either here or preferably via email msaraf@gmail.com -

    Essay 1 – Why should we accept you….how would your add to our culture of diversity?

    Essay 2 – What would you pick – a million bucks or a knighthood, and why?

    Essay 3 – How would your supervisor/manager describe you to his replacement (i think they are asking for what I do at work and my strengths and weaknesses in my own words)

    Essay 4 – Anything else that would strengthen the application at all.

    each essay must be 300 words max… talk about brevity!

    Thinking about the above might inspire you for whatever it is that you work on….I’ll send some good vibes over :-)

  40. says

    My favorite, practically fail-safe method to get stalled writing started is questions. There are quite a few excellent books containing what some call “conversation-starter” type questions. The books I recommend most are Barbara Ann Kipfer’s “4000 Questions For Getting To Know Anyone and Everyone”, the “If …” books by Evelyn McFarlane and James Saywell, “The Conversation Piece” by Bret Nicholaus and Paul Lowrie, and “The Book of Questions” by Gregory Stock. These books never fail to get me talking precisely because that’s what they’re designed to do – get people talking. The most interesting effect of using these books is they prompt you to improvise questions of your own. I’ve become quite a collector of all sorts of interesting questions which I find to be the very best preventive medicine for writer’s block … and the best cure. Try them out. I think you’ll find that, once you’re in the habit of collecting and answering … or attempting to answer … a wide variety of questions – hypothetical or pointed, serious or humorous – a blank piece of paper will never frighten you again.

    Another related suggestion I might make is to create yourself a daily question list, i.e., a set of questions you commit to answering every single day that are designed to sweep the sleepy cobwebs of the brain, wake it up and get it thinking and YOU talking on paper. Listing helps in this area too.

  41. says

    Great tip list. I’m a fiction writer by choice but I also submit some freelance technical writing. I especially relate to your first tip. In fact, it’s a form of ‘first thoughts’, a timed writing excercise of author Natalie Goldberg where you just spew out thoughts and words without editing or pausing to even read what you’ve written. It’s a great creativity farming technique.

  42. Jean-Mathieu says

    I take the Ray Bradbury approach to writer’s block, personally – surrounding oneself with a gaggle of items that inspire creativity. I suggest it highly.

  43. says

    Connecting to your first point about headlines, I try to have atleast 3 draft posts on the go at all times. It doesn’t have to be substantial but if you don’t write it down somewhere, chances are you’ll forget it.

    A link you found along with 3 bullet points about ideas for potential post that it generated. If you just bookmark the link and think “That will make a great start for an article” and don’t add your thoughts at the time, you’ll be cleaning out your bookmark list and wonder, “Why did I have this here? Oh well, if I can’t remember, must not have been worth it.”

    A code snippet which you made or found that overcame a particular issue. How many times have you been googling for solutions to IE6 bugs and found the particular answer on some blog? That could be traffic headed your way – but not if you never start the post.

    Then, when you follow-up on your 3rd point about a regularly scheduled writing time, you’re not staring at a blank slate, but have a series of options to consider flushing out. Great fodder in case you don’t have a fresh idea to run with.

    Added freelance folder to my rss feeds – good job!

  44. says

    Love that number 7 point. There is just great liberation in in-the-moment expression despite your being uncomfortable and unwilling or unable to express, and just in that moment pushing past feelings of insecurity and inadequacies. Oh, such great freedom!

  45. says

    nice articles. give me some lights how to do some writing. i’m not a writer but a thinker. but like to be a good writer someday so i could write what i know. so many thing on my head just waiting to get out. so thanks for the info.

  46. Emily, 16 says

    I plan on participating in NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) this November, and I hope these seven suggestions will help me find a topic that will hold my attention for a month.

    My best writing tip is this: Carry a journal or notebook with you everywhere you go. When you get in the habit of writing everything down, you’ll find there’s a lot to write about.

    This is a helpful article. Thank you!

    Em ;)

  47. Daniel says

    I specially liked the tip #4, I realised that this is just what I want to do: Write new, good and facinating stories.

    I’m decided to work hard in order to accomplish this.

    Thank you for keep me going.

  48. says

    As a freelance writer for the past 20 years and a blogger for the past 4 years, I’ve often experienced writers block (even though I know many writers who consider writer’s block a myth and a cop-out).

    I’ve often found, funnily enough, that being under pressure helps. If the clock is ticking down to a deadline, I tend to write faster and the words come out easier because my back is to the wall. So it’s a case of “write or die”. On the other hand, if I have all the time in the world, I tend to daydream or find something else to do.

    If I am having trouble writing dialogue, I try to watch a television programme or a movie which has a subject close to what I am trying to write. I concentrate very intensely on the programme dialogue and this helps me to shake up the stupor in my head.

    Or I read a book or a Wikipedia page about an author to inspire me.

    Another tip is to leave comments on blog pages like this one. Just writing a blog comment is getting you to start writing and the starting is always the hardest part right?

    These may all sound silly but they do all work in their own way.

    If all else fails, I go for a walk to get some fresh air, or alternatively I take a day or two off (if the deadline allows it).

    But at the end of the day, I thrive under pressure and I have produced my best work by literally waiting until the last minute. Since you’re in a hurry to get finished, you’re typing too fast to stop and procrastinate about whether your writing is good or not. You just write. That’s normally how the best writing is achieved – when you don’t stop to think about what you are writing.

  49. says

    I’ve been writing a blog for about a year and a half now (I use to just journal to myself & still do.), and I agree Dave that making a list of topics is what gets the ideas churning. Plus I check out the “buzz” on the net via other blogs, social networks, newspaper articles, tv, radio, my current “train” of thought, etc., etc…

    I don’t limit myself — just kinda write about things that strike my fancy. Lately I’ve been writing (ranting) about a few of my pet peeves. Kind of using my blog as a sounding board, but not too much.

    Thanks for all the good suggestions.

    ~ Suzy :)

  50. James Hoffman says

    Great tips, there is a lot here that is really helpful. I am trying one solution that is bit off the wall, but it does help. I am experimenting with speech recognition software. It is somehow less daunting to talk to computer and not have to face that keyboard every morning. I in using Dragon NaturallySpeaking version 9, which I think is probably the best available right now. It’s not perfect, so it gives proofreading a whole new meaning. I am using it to write this reply. For me it has increased my output by about 100% every day. It has a fairly short learning curve, and it is a lot of fun to use. I am really excited to use it in combination with tips provided here and see just what happens. I’ll try it for week and get back to you.

  51. says

    Mark –
    Nothing sounds silly if it WORKS – thanks for sharing.

    Suzy –
    Glad we could help :-)

    James –
    I’ve been on the fence about giving Dragon a try – you just sold me. Thanks!

  52. Jim says

    I do not agree with this article or the comments.
    If you are not inspired to write, or don’t know what to write about, or can’t think of anything useful, DON’T WRITE ANYTHING.

    I think it is a bad idea to write-as-a-habit, or to post daily or weekly to a blog regardless of whether you have anything to say. It’s a silly waste of time to write out headlines in hopes of
    having something to say later, or to type out other peoples
    blogs.

    If you have something to say, some ideas that need to be fleshed out, there should be no doubt how to proceed with
    the writing. If there is, you should be doing woodworking or
    something else. Writing is a craft, but it is also a gift – if you
    are not one of the few who have something to write about
    then working at the craft is not going to make your writing
    any more worthwhile.

    Partly because of blogs, we are inundated with unverifiable
    information authored by amateurs and by mediocre writing,
    or simply inane egotistical ramblings. I think we all need to
    refrain from adding to this morass and restrict our writing to
    our most essential and original ideas.

  53. Zynal says

    Why not? Good tips there Dave. I for one, really love writing. I have read a lot of books just to see the different style of writing. i don’t really have a specific style but i’m trying to find one. Writing is a passion but i usually don’t write for the fact that i care too much about what people would think about what i write. After reading tips no. 2 though, i believe i could write more often now. This is my blog. jenal.blogspot.com. See what i’ve written there for i don’t care what people think about my writing anymore. Cheerios!

  54. Sophia says

    Great article, Dave! I write academic articles in philosophy, which is similar to freelance writing in that I have to produce written work with no supervision from anyone, so no firm deadlines.

    My best writing tip is to set small, manageable goals and to check in with a buddy or two to track your progress as a group. I do this with one of my colleagues – we tell each other our goals for the year, for the next month, and for the next week. We e-mail each other every week with updates and to set the next week’s goals. It’s interesting to hear about someone else’s work, and we encourage each other.

    When you fail to meet one of your internal deadlines, it’s important to just calmly set it for another date further out, and keep trying to reach it. Sometimes it helps to cut the goal in half, e.g. if you wanted to write 5 pages in the next two days, and didn’t do it, then try to write 2.5 pages in the following two days.

  55. says

    Jim, I appreciate your opinion – why not add a link to your site? Do you not think this information is useful to those of us who write professionally and or to someone like Manav who must write an essay for business school?

    I don’t see anything mentioned here about “how to create unverifiable information that isn’t important.” I think your argument is unfounded. The people writing useless information are the people that need this post the most!

    This is about kickstarting the writing “habit.” Should a person not ever make exercise a habit simply because they don’t feel like exercising? Writing is a good habit to get into and like many other habits, you must practice to make it one.

  56. says

    @Jim –
    I disagree with your opinion. To follow it to it’s logical conclusion is to say “If something isn’t coming easily to you, don’t do it.” If people took that advice, then nobody would ever get good at anything. Michael Jordan didn’t make the cut the first time he tried out for his school’s football team; I for one am glad he didn’t become a woodworker.

    I don’t want to start a comment war by saying your attitude seems elitist, so I’m going to give you the benefit of the doubt, especially since you have a very good point in there – there are too many blogs filled with drivel (but you’re welcome to refrain from reading them).

    None of my advice says “publish everything you write.” It says write, write, and write some more. Experiment. Have fun. Improve. Click Publish when you have something useful.

    Though I disagree with the premise of your comment, I thank you all the same for joining into the discussion. Perhaps you can add to it further by elaborating on how you hone your own writing skills. Thanks!

    @Zynal –
    Glad to be an inspiration. Now write. :-)

    @Rich K –
    That’s a great perspective (and takes some of the pressure off)

    @Sophia –
    Love the group writing idea. My wife uses it all the time to write with her friends.

    @Christine –
    Well said.

  57. wowmir says

    About the car that wont start. If its a new car it is probably a battery problem. Which can be fixed by cleaning the terminal with hot water. Be care full when opening the terminal. Use a cloth or rubber gloves.

  58. says

    I am an amateur blogger/writer, who agrees with you, Jim, that there is a lot of useless writing strewn about the internet. But everyone starts out as amateurs, and blogging has opened the door for more creative ideas from those who may never have otherwise been heard. I agree, Dave, that by writing begets better writing. Besides with a blog you can always go back and edit.
    ~ Suzy :)

  59. says

    Dave, awesome article! I really like the tip about re-writing someone else’s blog. I read blogs all day and think to myself, why can’t I string those words together, and now, I CAN!

    I’m just a lowly blogger who hopes one day to teach creative writing to students, and something I’ve learned that helps spark my writing imagination is to go to a mall, or airport, or restaurant, basically anywhere, and watch people.

    Watch them, observe them, and whatever you think write it down in your handy-dandy journal. Whether you play “what-is-their-life-like” in your head, make social observations about their behavior, or wonder about why we are the way we are (we being people), just write it down. It makes for some fun reading later and it may even spark an idea for a writing assignment.

    Found your blog via LH and have RSS’ed it. I plan to spend way too much time here.

    -Dan

  60. dhmaccoy says

    i like what you’ve said here. i just thought those blogs i wrote a while ago. the techniques you tell here just fitted to what i always do but i don’t recognize ^_^

    thanks.

  61. says

    Look around you at the other people in the office/coffeeshop/street/prison – wherever you’re typing.
    Write a few lines about the people you see, create a little backstory for each person. I usually start this off, making them all grotesque characters, before enjoying the writing, and gradually making them sunnier more positive people – as I get into a better writing mood.
    Then I delete all, before someone reads it over my shoulder and smacks me one, and get stuck into my writing. Genius!

  62. says

    I love these comments, especially tips from or about professional fiction writers (the ones who _depend_ on creativity to feed themselves) like Bradbury from Jean-Mathieu.

    I have two very obvious suggestions, but it may help non-creative writers break out:

    1. Let your work shadow you when you get stuck.

    It’s your mess, so you have to clean it up. All of my greatest strokes of creativity are when I am stuck so badly over a stupid idea that felt impossible to recover from. That’s why I do the stereotypical writer activity of carrying a moleskine or composition notebook and a very reliable Fisher Space Pen. I get my idea and stop in traffic, on the bus or at my desk to jot it down.

    2. Need to write something moody? Get moody.

    Writing something sad? Throw on some Johnny Cash. Do whatever activity sets a mood for you. When I write about drinking activities, I usually have a tasty beverage in my hand. When it’s about something exhilarating, I stop writing, put on my sound-isolating headphones and listen to exciting music until I’m riled up enough to explode. Then, all I do is just dump that emotion on the keyboard and get a solid five minutes of frantic writing. I go back and copy-edit it later.

    We all know the fun things that get us going, so let’s do it.

  63. says

    hmm, good enough. You made me to put in a comment.

    I’m into web design (a starter at that). And I also program some software which is quite popular with the user community. I however feel shy of writing a post for my blog. Here’s why

    a) English is not my native language
    b) I don’t want people on the net to be able to know the real person that I am in my real life.
    c) I want the people to know me for the great programmer I’m in my real life.

    But I think it’s good to start than to hesitate. Who knew this comment would be this long?

    Regards

  64. says

    If I’m literarilly constipated, I’ll do a number of things to get my coiffed mass moving:

    1) Go for a walk
    2) Think about something completely unrelated
    3) Take a nap
    4) Do NOT watch TV, a movie, or play a game (those don’t seem to allow the brain to do it’s thing)
    5) Prepare some food
    6) Take a sh*t
    7) Go for a bike or car ride
    8) Do chores

    If my mind won’t stay still long enough to get it all down, I’ll whip out a tape recorder and say – more like blurt – what I want to write. Then I can organize my thoughts better afterwards.

    I’ve found that my most mentally productive times (problem solving times) are when I’m actually not working. A person trying to solve a problem or write a story needs to allow their subconscious to do the work for them. This makes my times in the bathroom much more productive than they would otherwise be, and for this I am grateful.

    But then, there comes a time when you have to stop procrastinating and get down to work.

  65. says

    Hi,

    I especially liked the first one. Another trick that I use is to take a notebook and pen and freewrite for 10 minutes – that means no stopping and if you don’t come up with anything then try writing I can’t write until something does.

    sue

  66. says

    It’s funny, I’ve read this twice in two days–from two different links. It’s just a good piece and I’ve gotten a lot of writing done! :) Even looking at it kick-starts me.

  67. says

    I write a lot seriously, sometimes spending hours reading, documenting. It has usually fails. With me changing the blog contents a hundred times. But then i look at my personal blog. Usually mumblings about nothing and yet they sound so meaningful.

    I guess random and unstructured is a way to write atleast it pleases you.

  68. Jooles01 says

    Wow, this is very interesting. I just spent a little time on number 1 above and already I’m coming up with some very interesting ideas – it really does make me want to start writing. In fact, after I’ve fed my son and his friend I’m going to do just that.

    Thanks for the great article and the tremendous amount of inspiration.

    if you’re looking for inspiration for your blog, how about inspiration and planning for a novel – in a weekend. Go on, I dare you!

  69. says

    Wow, lots of comments. I swear I read 50 of them. I like the headline tip. I do something similar, but more random. I make big lists of ideas for posts so I always have enough amunition when its time to write. I do so much freelance design work that I have to make my writing time count.

    I often make these lists in my down time while watching reruns of Law and Order. That way its easy to disconnect from the show, which I’ve already seen a bunch of times, and write the lists.

    I usually write down a combinations of topics to talk about on my blog, blog post ideas, headline ideas, cool images that might complement a post, and more.

    Sometimes, I get going with an idea and I write an outline for a post and fill alot of the sections with content. I don’t worry about writing bad at this stage. I’ve found that even if my writing is bad my logic and flow of ideas is usually sound. Even if I have to rewrite a little my first draft will be a great starting point.

    Also, if I’m feeling really tired there is always the option to actually watch another rerun of Law and Order, so there is no pressure on me to be productive. It more like fun. I love thinking about stuff and planning out new ideas to write about.

    I liked some of the comments about timed writing. I may write a post about that in the future. Thanks for the helpful list.

  70. says

    i only started blogging for 2 months and i promised to write at least 5 days in a week. i used to run out of ideas on what to write about at first. But after noting down all the things i can write about in a notepad, i realized that there’s a hell of a lot of topics which i can tackle considering the kind of blog i do…which is basically all about my hometown and province in an island in the Phils.

    I also bring my camera along and keep track on every upcoming event, visitor, or what-have-you in my city and we know that with pictures, words are actually unnecessary.

    A notepad of topics, a camera – that’s all i need.

    Thanks for this article. Have subscribed already.

  71. says

    I once started writing a story and thought it was absolute garbage by the end. Pure crap. I was in complete despair at my seeming lack of talent.

    I wrote to myself: “I’m a hack. I might as well copy something and make it my own. Why don’t I just write something, leave it, and come back to it later? Then I’ll ‘copy’ it. Who knows, when I rearrange it a little, it might be decent reading.”

    I resumed watching TV.

    Ten minutes later, I wrote: “This is called editing. Idiot.”

    Still…
    Kinda works. Either that or I start drinking. Not healthy but it gets me in the mood instantly.

    Otherwise, for block: I either read an author I love and take notes for myself why I love various sentences and styles or draw something.

    Doing something creative that is not writing makes my mind relax, as the creativity CAN flow, it is just going a different direction. Doodle, snap some pictures. Make up caption for random Google image searches. Anything.

    Another new trick is to graph things and rate them based on my opinions. I realized I had strong opinions about shapes of letters and their facility when written. I plotted them all on a graph and wrote a blurb about the merits and pitfalls of each one. It’s crap really, but I was writing.

  72. Julie says

    Work out the time of day that suits you and your brain, for me it’s 11am to 1pm, and schedule that time to write. The rest of the day you can read, talk to friends, garden, listen to music, cook, knit, go to the movies,whatever, and not feel guilty.

  73. Bettina says

    I stop writing when I get bored. I get bored when I get boring. To unbore myself, I turn to conversation.
    I start an online conversation with a friend or colleague using instant messenger (gtalk or msn). I tell them up front what topic I want to discuss. Then we start chatting – the continuous dialogue generally helps me restart. I guess live humans would work too, but I don’t see many in the course of a day.

  74. says

    This article is great! I found all of them points are very informative for me. I really thought for one of the point in the today evening before I read this article and now I can say that I was right. I will keep this article to write my articles in future and I hope this will help me alot. Thanks

  75. says

    Great list, I really like the idea of going back and using old post again. I have done that before when I can’t really think of something to write about that is current. I use them to expand on a basis of the article and gives me new ideas!

  76. says

    1.Write nothing but headlines.

    This can be a good way to start for those who have never written anything. But this has to go further adding few phrases and eventually few paras.

    2. Write ‘crap’ without feeling guilty.

    I totally agree with this. Moreover, put some logic and rationale in it and start questioning the status-quo – best way to attract attention.

    3. Schedule regular time and show up, even if you think you can’t write.

    I toally disagree with this. We are not robots programmed to crunch something because we have to. The point is we have to be creative and add some value or intrigue to what already exists. Just showing up on time will not cut it. One has to either have smth in head or at least a slight idea or know where ti find motivation or inspiration from.

    4. Write about how you solved a problem.

    I would go more with “Take a regular and accepted point of view and try to articulate the opposite point of view in a solid, logical and persuasive way.” This way, a writter will not only have to strain some brains but also will have a greater and more effective use of the verbal part.

    5. Edit older articles.

    I frankly dont think this adds much value to the writter or to the reader. Occasionally it might. Better come up with something new, even if that might be something trivial.

    6. Type out other people’s articles.

    I would again say “Take the topic of what other people write about and write your own piece before reading what others wrote.” It is more interesting this way and ultimately more rewarding.

    7. Add your tips to this list in the comments section below.

    I am :)

  77. says

    Quote: “Write ‘crap’ without feeling guilty. We tend to assume that great writers write great stuff all the time. Face it – they don’t. ”

    I couldn’t agree more. Matter of fact, the more lucid, the more easy the writing reads, more work has gone into creating it.

    I’ve tried writing ‘crap’ (read brainstorming) and out of, say 100 lines, I might find one gem, one original creative string of words, or a brill idea that triggers further thoughts. Sometimes I write negatively about the topic in question and that opens up new avenues for positive writing as well.

    Wonder if you can write a post showing an example where you wrote some crap, and how something useful evolved from it.

    Anyway thanks Dave, for the fascinating post. But as of now…. I’m worried if my car will start tomorrow morning.

  78. Rifki says

    Use of proper grammar is always a good sign of one’s writing habits (or lack thereof). You don’t have to be a Pulitzer-winning journalist; just good, proper grammar will suffice.

  79. says

    “Write ‘crap’ without feeling guilty.” This makes perfect sense. Isn’t that what we do as designers anyway? I may present three ideas to the client, but I’ve self-edited and rejected other designs along the way to get to that point. Your advice is the logical extension to this.

    Great stuff.

  80. Manu says

    Great write up. I completely agree about the theme ‘Write ‘crap’ without feeling guilty’. The fact is that, many a times, what we feel as crap writing will prove to be class writing after the writing work is done. I have experienced this by myself. Once I was in a Job Interview for the post of Technical Writer. The screening test was to write a small story on a given topic. Until then, I was of the firm belief that I am not at all a good storywriter, even though I acknowledge myself as a feature writer. But I was left with no option there, but to write a story within an hour. What I felt when I started writing was the same ‘ Crap writing’. It took just 10 minutes for me get involved in the writing process completely. Unknowingly, a story was flowing free from my fingertips to keyboard. At times I was so emotionally involved that, I had my eyes filled and monitor was looking blurred for me. Within 45 minutes I finished the story with my eyes filled with tears. That was the first story i wrote in my life. It’s immaterial to say that I got the job but what really matters was that, now I proudly have story writing as my hobby. All because I believed in myself and started to write ‘Crap’ at that job test.

  81. says

    While it is simple to agree that each of the tips provided will produce results, there are times when the key to unlocking the door to your creativity relies on setting your keyboard aside once in awhile and pick up a pen and paper.

    Pretend that the pen has a mind of it’s own and is able to write words on the paper without you even thinking about what words are being written. By keeping the pen flowing across the page, gradually, the words begin to form themselves into a theme that you may decide to follow through to completion.

  82. says

    Kimberly & Shivanand’s points bring me to something slightly different—which is that lists like this are so useful precisely because different things work for different writers, and you never know which exercises will be the ones that work for you. Unlike those two, I ‘freewrite’ more easily with a computer screen & keyboard than I do with a pen, likely because I can type far faster than I write (and thus with less conscious thought).

  83. says

    Great article, made in tradition of this website, some of what is told here, I already applied in my skills, others like writing for trash can I was affraid to practice, but now I think I might try to do this often, to improve my writing skills… Thank You

  84. says

    Excellent! Thank you!

    I’d like to add, “Get Some Rest!”

    I’ve allowed myself to be drawn into some late-night board games and movies with my older kids over the past several days. No regrets, mind you. It’s important to relax and to connect with the family. However, it’s sapped my energy. I’ve tried to sit down to write a few times, even pulling up article ideas I’ve written or dictated into my voice recorder while driving, and I just couldn’t get the words out. I got some rest, and it’s all starting to move again.

  85. says

    For me the best way to write something when I am stuck is to make a mind map of the the topic. I write the topic heading in the center and then start writing related ideas linked to the main topic, then addtional ideas are linked to the related ideas. This works very well, because I can now use the map to drive the story line and ideas.

    Although this comes from basic writing 101, it still works very well when I am stuck.

  86. says

    Your title attracted me, and gosh! what a helpful article for me. I will start practicing all the 7 habits. I have to admit point 2 is something I have to breakthrough.. (yes, I can do it!)

    Thanks and I’ll paste your post on my blog as well.

    Love, Jacklyn Ker

  87. says

    @Everyone –

    Wow, far too many comments to respond to … but I appreciate the outpouring of tips – this post is heavily linked and has become a great resource for a lot of writers :-)

    Thanks again!

    Dave

  88. says

    I have tried writing in midnight when it was the most quiet time..it works for me especially when I have no idea what to write.. In the silence, my brain works better..(I guess)

    * I love your blog..

  89. says

    I’m so glad I found your blog. I actually use the technique of writing headlines all of the time, so I rarely run out of topics to write about. Unfortunately, the ratio of headlines to actual articles is like 4 to 1. Great post and I look forward to trying some of the other techniques that you have mentioned in this article.

  90. says

    Thats a great list. I bought a book a little while ago called “Writers Block” and it’s been a big help to me. Every time I’m stuck I’ll crack it to a random page and it will have a great idea waiting just for me! Now I never run out of things to write about.

  91. Rotha says

    I really think #2 is a fantastic, 2 thumbs for that. I’ve always love to read as much as I do to write, but my writing I’d have to admit is not the best. After reading this article it really gives me the motivation to write more even if its about nothing. I always had the idea in my head that in order to write something it really has to have a good meaning and the topic has to be attracting. But I guess that’s not really what it is. A friend of mine does alot of blogging and I always go by his site and spend a good hour or so reading through his stuff, because there so much stuff that hes put together over the past couple of years and he great at writing. Hes also the one who started to give me the inspiration to write. After today I think I’ll put more thoughts into spending an hour or so writing. Thanks again and Great Article.

  92. says

    When I was younger, I used to write a lot. I though I would be a professional writer, because I know my poetry was beautiful and meaningful. However, life has taken me to a technical issues addiction and I’m not that guy anymore.

    I’m trying to get my brain moving again on some technology unrelated track.

  93. Caron LM Harris says

    What a relief it was to find your blog! Although God has blessed me with many talents, the struggles and turmoils of my life have somehow caused me to forget that I really am a writer. I have only recently begun writing again. I plan to definitely use the information listed above. Thanks again!

    Signed,

    Writing Ability Rediscovered

  94. says

    I havent been able to write much…. guess laziness took the bette of me. But this piece has inspired me. Look I am leaving behing this comment… as a first step to unfreezing my mind :) thanks

  95. Roberto says

    Really good tips, I’m actually writing a book and still really find hard to schedule a time and a place to keep on writing creative, I guess motivation is the thing we need the most… I guess I’ll find it along the way.

    Thank you and keep on rocking!

  96. zeynep özlem says

    hello… first of all, very nice post..

    My best writing tip would be this: I find it easy to write as I am telling something to my friends. Because I ussually do that when I’m talking to my friends on the phone. I am a story-teller, I can tell a 5-minutes event for like 2 hours… So, first I talk about what I want to write, listen to myself, then I write it down before I forget. :)

  97. Sonia Rios says

    My name is Sônia and I’m from Brazil. First of all, I’d like to apologize for the “English mistakes” you may find here. My English is not very good – “yet” :) Yesterday I came across the “7 Can’t-Miss Ways To Kick-Start the Writing Habit” and was head over heels. The tips are wonderful for the ones like me. I love reading and writing but the latter gets my brain frozen every time I want to write something. “Write nothing but headlines” is a good one for me since sometimes I find myself pressuring me to write loooong texts. “Type out other people’s articles” is another good tip. But like Kimberly Lea (July 19,2008) suggested – an I agree with her – in my case it only works with a “pen and paper”. Portuguese is my mother tongue but I love studying English and my goal is to write well in English. It’s a challenge but I do hope succeed in it. I may consider this text as “my first writing” :) and I’d like to thank Dave for the wonderful tips and all those people who posted comments that helped me “getting the creative juices flowing” (I liked this expression – a new one for me ) on the 25th of March 2009!!

  98. says

    Great article.. I really liked your tips as I am myslef a writer and run my blog on personal finance.. I think another important tip is to read a lot.. read others blog, read popular websites in your niche.. it get can you that eureka moment which will get you started…

  99. says

    I have ideas to write about…in fact I have a list of items to write about. But my problem is I cannot get myself to start typing what I want to write about. I sit at the computer but do everything else (checking emails, reading other blogs etc) except starting to type my own little piece.

    Hours upon hours pass like this and days after days…

    How do I get to cure this? It is not lack of ideas. It is about overcoming that something invisible that stands between me and starting to actually type my stuff :(

  100. says

    I always choose the right topic when I’m going to write an article. It could be my favorite interest and ideas to share about. This way I won’t be having the trouble to write a crap information.

  101. says

    Tip no 5 is what I always do to my own Blog. The reason is that I only post once or even just twice a month that I already forgot the topic that I was focusing about. It takes time to do this but at least it enables you to check any spelling and grammatical errors. Thanks for the other Tips.

  102. Jason Hillman says

    About a year ago one of my neighbors decided to get rid of a desk he no longer had room for in his home. I couldn’t stand the thought of the quaint little piece ending up at the local dump, so I decided to claim it as my own. After setting it atop my longboard and rolling it back to the house, I realized I didn’t have room for it either! I was pooped and decided to plant the desk on my porch until I could figure out something to do with it.

    It’s been over a year now and that desk is still sitting on my porch. It has been modified to include a shelf for books and magazines on either side, and never a day goes by where I do not sit at that desk to read and write. I have found that some of my best work does not take root in front of the keyboard, instead it blossoms from the peace and serenity I find when surrounded by the blessings of nature.

  103. says

    nice tips on writing nice articles.I have a blog,On which I write daily phone news,I think you article is useful for improving my site.Thanks.

  104. says

    These are great! I’m the biggest procrastinator when it comes to writing, but I’ve found that (for me) when I sit down and force myself to write, without the option of getting up, it finally gets done, and is pretty darn good! But if I give myself the option of not finishing, for me what comes out is crap until I don’t have a choice anymore. But I love these ideas! Maybe I’ll finally get ahead and start to have ideas ahead of time :)

  105. Arindam says

    dear dave
    i have found your tips quite helpful. i must thank you for all the tips which i am going to apply from now on. thanks a lot.

  106. Dorothee Tomas says

    When I have difficulty writing I usually just have a snack. Some good brain food–celery, oatmeal, maybe some granola. And I just let my mind wander. What if I choked and died? What would I think as I worked so hard for those last breaths? Who would find me? What would it feel like? What would be next? Would it be like before I was born or what? Or I think about the person who touched my food before me. My roommate getting the bags out of her car. The cashier. The produce dude…. All the way back to the farmer. It really can go anywhere.
    Thanks for this exercise. It’s cool sharing and reading ways to get over writer’s block. :)

  107. says

    Funny, I have trouble not writing, it’s almost a compulsion. But when I analyzed why, it became apparent I was thinking more of a particular person who needed to hear something, rather than what I needed to say. Thinking of an individual (you, for example, who wish to improve their writing) really makes the juices flow.

  108. Mojo says

    great article to boost… I usually think to write something but my laziness pulls me back.. but from now onwards I’ll write something by fixing a time on every day….

    point 2, about writing a crap sounds a bit tough but I think it will really pull something great out of me at times.. so I’ll follow this

    thanks

  109. Kristie says

    For those who are more kinesthetic in their writing habits, a well-known writer whose name I cannot recall, wrote an entire essay about brainstorming on one side of the page only. Then circling and cutting out the words/phrases that represent ideas. Once you have several, arrange them in some order. Rearrange them again and again until you feel you have points that flow from one to the next. I have used this method many times and it’s very effective.

  110. says

    For writers looking for a creative spark, check out MasterWriter, a suite of never-seen-before reference dictionaries that open up a new world of possibilities for descriptive words and ideas. You can download a free trial, and watch a short online tour, at Masterwriter.com.

  111. says

    I like the headlines tip and might use that on my blog soon. I have been just typing what comes into my head that day, which I know isn’t the best way to do it.

    I also think that the advice about setting aside some time to do it each day is a good idea. I friend of mine has set himself the photo a day challenge (he takes and posts a photo every day) to expand his creative juices. People ask him how he stays doing it, to which he replies that it’s habit. He always has his camera on him and has an alarm on his phone which goes off before he finishes work reminding him to post his photo. Easy enough.

    Granted, uploading a photo is generally a lot easier than writing a blog (especially when using Ponderous, like he does) but it’s the same idea.
    Nic at CrossLingo

  112. says

    Hey Dave great list of ways to improve writing skills. This is what I need as I just started my own blog.

    BTW, you are not the Dave Navarro guitarist right?

  113. Lynette says

    Love the list! I rarely get stuck (I’ve been writing crap all my life!) but when I do, I like to remember something that happened before I got to work. Alarm clock didn’t go off…frog jumped into the garage and I couldn’t get him out before I closed the door…spilled coffee on myself AGAIN…forgot my lunch…it’s always easy to write about that kind of stuff because it’s eternally irritating. I’d add one more, though: always assume you’re going to throw away the first 1,200 words you write. That way you don’t fall in love with an idea and your mind can keep wandering without the “oh my god this isn’t making any sense” feeling. I’ve been writing and editing technical documents for the past year and it’s absolutely true–once you get into a rhythm (which usually takes me about 1,200 words), it starts working. Until then, drink more coffee and keep whining about your day. The right words will come!

  114. says

    How about mindmaps? If you haven’t tried them, you owe it to yourself to give them a go.

    In the center of a page, jot down your main idea — problem to be solved, theme to be amplified, story title, etc. — the surround it with related ideas. You’ll be surprised by how many ideas bubble forth. That sends your writing mind into action. I wouldn’t begin ANY writing project without doing a mindmap first. Saves time. Unleashes creativity. Harvests ideas you’d never think of.

    Then, once you have your mindmap, write without hesitation. Leave your “editor” in the drawer. Just write your first draft with the assurance that nobody will see it but you. Don’t try to edit. Just get the words down.

    Then — DO NOTHING. At least for a day, or two days. Or even three.

    Come back to it later.

    You’ll be amazed to discover all the work your subconscious has done in the meantime.When you’re ready to resume. Start with something easy. Tell yourself you’ll work only for 5 minutes.

    Now, you’re rolling. Write, write, write. THEN you can call in your editor. But not before you’ve gotten it all down on paper.

    That’s what works for me. And I am the biggest procrastinator on the planet!

  115. says

    Number 4 is a great tip. I think i might write a fresh article tomorrow morning about how I solved a problem related to college. Thanks for a great post. If i get writers-block, I’ll be sure to come back to this article.

  116. meredith says

    oh my god! writing tips that i can actually wrap my brain around! this is wonderful…i feel like a writer JUST after reading those tips! ha! oh, here is a tip:

    if you’re a parent needing something to do with your child, especially younger children, give them a pencil and some paper too! When a child is learning to write letters, this is an excellent opportunity to get some practice in, and without turning on the damn television! If they already know how to write, this is a perfect time to teach them how to journal…EVERYONE has thoughts and feelings, and sometimes they’re better served in writing.

    thanks kisha for sharing this…there’s a breakthrough taking place!!

  117. says

    Hi Dave,

    Am glad I found your article. I plan to start using 4 of the tips right away. I always get stuck. I have and idea then when it is time to write. Nothing, nada.

    This should help. Only wish I found this earlier….

  118. Tej says

    I am really motivated with ur suggestions. Especially the first one is really helpful for some one who is about to start blogging. Twitter might be a good platform to publish these headlines.

  119. says

    Great tips, Dave.
    In my almost two years of freelance writing, it’s now that I experience writer’s block. It’s been weeks and despite all the stuff I need to finish, I barely manage to get half of my workload done. It’s really frustrating. I start writing and before I get to the second paragraph, I get sooo sleepy because nothing comes out. Horrible.
    Your tips are great and I will certainly use them.

  120. Nikhil says

    Great tips! Tip # 6: (Type out other people’s articles) is actually used to train budding copy writers on how to copy write…thanks for the tips.

  121. Kearston says

    It took me 20 minutes to do tip number 4. I wrote 644 words! I am so surprised that this tip was instantly inspiring!

    Then I copied it into a note on Facebook and challenged a bunch of my friends to do it, too. Thanks!

  122. says

    I recently came across your blog, and I absolutely love it!

    Thank you for these powerful tips. I often run out of ideas on what to blog about. I often give myself excuses like I am too busy etc – and I tend to procrastinate on my blogging….so, your tips are very helpful.

    I particularly like your third tip about setting a fixed time for writing. For me, I’m always busy and there seems to be not enough time in a day! And in most cases I have no time for blogging. So, setting up a time which is allocated to writing will help.

    Your fourth tip is also very powerful – share or teach what you know, if you have experienced any problems or challenges, share how you solved them! In most cases, people get stuck about what to write about, yet there are many people out there you would like to know what you already know.

    I’ve also managed to come up with topics to write about simply by looking at the questions that my readers have been asking me. So, it’s a good idea to look into your emails or on your blog – what questions do people ask you? Simply write a blog post or an article answering those questions.

  123. says

    Great post! I am just starting out in community management/marketing media and trying to learn how to deliver freelance writing – resources like this article are incredibly helpful.

  124. says

    Thanks for this.

    I think of Stephen King’s commitment to write for 90 minutes each morning, and his comment about that – when you do something for an hour and a half every day, you get good at it.

    ABCs of writing : Apply Butt to Chair

    I don’t get stuck in the sense of I can’t think of anything to write – it’s more a case of I have so many ideas I don’t know what to write first. I have a little box of index cards that have words (nouns and verbs) on them. So, when I get stuck like that, I just pull out a card and start writing with and about that word. Sometimes I scrap it, in favor of a better idea that comes, but I always write.

    Getting up at 5 am and doing my 1,000 word daily minimum before I eat breakfast or do anything else makes sure it gets done. I usually do more later, but even if the day goes south and I can’t get back to my work, I know those words are done because I do them early in the morning before anyone else in the house gets out of bed.

  125. says

    Your heart must be in it: if you start writing and the words do not flow, or you have to force your thoughts to get them on paper, this is not going to be a love for you. Most well-known writers have been known to write thoughts and feelings much better than being able to speak them.

  126. says

    Being a good writer doesn’t mean just a person who can spell well. Many writers get so caught up in their writing or typing that they may indeed make many typos, so do not let this issue disturb you. As a matter of fact, many great writers have people who actually proofread for them, because when the words just seem to pour out, so do many typos.

  127. says

    To start writing, pick subjects that you really feel deep in your heart. Anyone can take a subject and give you facts, but a good writer also shows you heart behind the words, so start slowly by picking subjects you really have a feel for. This will give you a better article.

  128. says

    After you write some things, have others read your work and give you an opinion. I have found it’s best not to use family members, because they will always tell you it is good, and they won’t point out the errors. You need someone who is a good critic, as that is the only way you will learn.

  129. says

    Be prepared for let-downs, especially when you first start writing. Remember everyone doesn’t start out being good, at least not right away. Never let any bad remarks about your work get you discouraged; learn from your mistakes and learn from your critics. Some of the advice you get may help you to one day become that great writer you have always dreamed you would be.

  130. says

    The Moment you start writing for fun and not force yourself into doing it , you enjoy it and once you enjoy something you keep on writing about various stuff . That is how i developed a writing habbit :)

  131. says

    I love to read but always had a hard time writing. Even in high school I’d agonize over every word that I was writing in an essay. I finally learned to just let the words flow as though you’re engaged in a conversation. You can always go back and clean up your prose a little later. After that, I was cranking out pages of content left and right.

  132. says

    Please keep on posting as this was a quality is rare to find these days. I’m always looking for articles online, I can help. looking forward to another great blog. Good luck to the author! All the best!

  133. says

    Great advice, thank you! I create quite a few html e-shot for clients and I’m always thinking of headline ideas for the subject title. I like to scribble down words and phrases then re-arrange them in a suitable order for the article. Once it’s all planned out in note form and I feel I’ve covered everything, it is considerably easier to put together, flows smoothly and doesn’t deviate from the pre-planning in note form.

  134. says

    The author has written an excellent article. You have made your point and there is not much to argue about. It is like the following universal truth that you can not argue with: No truth is universal, everything has its exception. Thanks for the info

  135. says

    Some great tips here, I always struggled with the idea of turning out “crap” but came to realise that’s all some people want to read. After all – the Sun has to find journalists somewhere!

  136. says

    Something that helps me keep writing or kick start after falling into a slump is to write a haiku (or short poem ) first thing when I wake as a way to record some sort of memory of my dreams. If I don’t remember my dreams? I write a haiku about the first thing I notice…the cool thing about this is that I actually remember more dreams and find myself writing more! plus, the little morning poems are pretty funny to look back over. sometimes I am just grouchy as hell!

    These are great tips…thank you

  137. says

    Took me time to read all the comments, but I really enjoyed the article. It proved to be Very helpful to me and I am sure to all the commenters here! It’s always nice when you can not only be informed, but also entertained.

  138. Ransom says

    yes actually i consider myself one of those whose brain still cannot trigger out something to comment after you!
    i have no more creative tip to add on and be more helper than you.. but what i actually think now is after reading this useful article i wont let my brain frozen , i feel much like my motivation is rising to write but still more been afraid of losing that again.
    anyways i will try to put myself in such motivational track and schedule myself a pushing timeline and that’s why i ask you to wish the best for me !
    thank you really!
    Ransom

  139. says

    This may have been said, but here goes: I try and write several different formats, IE poetry, short fiction, essays, longer fiction and yes, blog posts and letters to the editor. If I get stuck on one, I can move onto another area. But I liked the seven tips, and will use them too – great ideas!

  140. says

    Fantastic beat ! I would like to apprentice while you amend your website, how could i subscribe for a weblog web site? The account helped me a acceptable deal. I had been tiny bit acquainted of this your broadcast offered bright clear idea

  141. says

    Going into research after 20 years as a practising architect posed huge problems for me: communicating and even thinking visually had become a way of life. What finally got me writing after almost a year was….Twitter! So, my advice is: write, whatever it is, even 140 characters. Now every time I have to write (a apaper for example) I invariably start by tweeting, writing comments on posts (like this), and also by writing notes. That’s followed by writing crap (covered above!) and eventually, after 4 o5 days, the “real thing” kicks in. Any advice on how to stop (to eat, speak and so on!) wold eb appreciated…any time I do get writing, I’m afraid to, in case it dries up. I’m worried I will either starve or balloon while writing my thesis. :-)

  142. says

    I just want to say I keep on coming back to this article because from time to time I still need some pointers on ways to keep on writing on my own blog.

    Thanks Dave.

  143. says

    I can’t deny any of these. Personally, when I write, the most important and hardest part of it is finding what to write about. After that, hand me an hour in front of a laptop and I’d be done. When the main idea comes, the branches just spread out immediately for me.

  144. says

    Thank you for your fantastic submit. I’m crafting any schoolreport in a issue like this as well as the thought would be a huge support!! I really hope you have a excellent morning!

  145. says

    Wonderful blog! I found it while surfing around on Yahoo News. Do you have any suggestions on how to get listed in Yahoo News? I’ve been trying for a while but I never seem to get there! Thanks

  146. says

    I just required some information and was searching on Google for it. I visited each page that came on first page and didn’t got any relevant result then I thought to check out the second one and got your blog. This is what I wanted!

  147. Jo says

    Great,I think I am just gonna start writing now.As I did it now.

    I will write anything or everything,read it to make it better and then… let’s see where does it take me to.

    Thanks for the article!

  148. Pallavi Singh says

    All the seven points are very new infact strange sounding but really cool when u think of actually applying it………i m somehow very sure that its going to help me……thanks a ton for sharing this.

  149. Uccellino says

    Commitment to write everyday! so true and so difficult at times. Thanks for the great tips. A good book: write your dissertation in 15 min a day!
    Keep the motivation high and the focus on what you want to do, not what you are doing or feel like doing!
    All the best and thanks again for sharing!

  150. pukapuka says

    great post and very helpful, but thing is that i want too much when i want to start writing.
    too many stories and inspiration which blocks me to write anything at the end …

    what should i do ?

    Thanks
    Puka

  151. Lucy says

    really helpful Dave, thanks. I’ve always wanted to be a good writer but never brought myself up to actually writing anything. reading through #2, i just opened Word and started writing about ‘my first steps’.

  152. says

    I would say the best tip ever that I use and surely lot more people is brainstorming for creative-juicy ideas and then jotting them down on a notepad with a pen.

    Some people jot down those thoughts on the computer in my opinion I think a pen and paper is better and more quick because ideas go and come quickly.

    The more you read the more you have inspiration/ideas to write about!

  153. adi says

    writing really has not been in my list of my strengths but really there’s nothing else to do but build it.

  154. says

    Woo hoo! Writing is getting easier for me day by day, though it takes me a bit longer (4-5 days) to to finish up an article.

    But I am learning and am on my way to becoming a good writer and this blog of yours is helping me a lot.

    Thanks,
    Manish Kapoor from India

    P.S – Can anyone please review my writing at manishkapoor.com/blog

  155. says

    Wow, incredible blog layout! How long have you been blogging for? you made blogging look easy. The overall look of your web site is fantastic, as well as the content!. Thanks For Your article about 7 Can& .

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