How to overcome writer’s block

So, you’re sat at your desk, staring at a blank screen. Your fingers are poised, ready to type, but your mind is blank too. Whether you have a to-do list that’s longer than your arm, or you’re trying to write another chapter of your novel, writer’s block gets us all.

As well as frustrating, it can be mentally heavy, especially when your work and income revolves around you writing and being creative. 

But don’t worry, although writer’s block sucks, there are ways to overcome it! Below, I’ll take you on a reveal-all tour of how I overcome writer’s block and get the words freed up and flying again.

What’s causing the block? 

As my grandmother-in-law would say, everything feels awful when it’s chock-a-block.

So, if your mind is chock-a-block and you’re feeling well… blocked creatively, then have a little think about what’s got you feeling this way. Are you tired, hungry… hangry? Once you’ve identified what’s bugging you, try to fix it.

Move your body 

Being stubborn and sticking with something can benefit us and sometimes, it really is cutting your nose off to spite your face.

When we’re so determined to stay put and write and not move until we’ve written something amazing, and it’s just not coming, being stubborn and pushing through when you’re struggling really is just cutting off your nose. It sounds counterintuitive, but the best way I’ve found to break this is by going for a walk or even just having a tiny kitchen dance whilst you put the kettle on.

If I want to really shake things up, I might go for a walk along the seafront (perks of coastal living). Basically, get some fresh air in your lungs and try again. 

The self-care edit

Self-care isn’t just a vibe, babe. You deserve to be well and look after yourself.

If you’re struggling to access your creativity and you’re feeling blocked up regularly, it’s time to ask yourself: is this is an ongoing issue, are you taking care of yourself? Sleeping enough? Eating well? Feeling generally good? When we’re overwhelmed, burnt out or wrung out, we’re never going to do our best work. 

Self-care can be anything from making sure we’re eating and sleeping well, getting out and taking care of ourselves. Or pop on a face mask, pour a glass of wine and send everyone else to bed.

All the world’s a stage

Someone very wise once told me that all of life is inspiration. The time they spend playing games, reading, watching telly, or with friends and family inspires their creative energy and flow. 

So, if you’re struggling and the words just won’t come, why not try something new?  Pick up that book you’ve been meaning to read, pop on some Netflix or go for coffee with a friend – or alone. Sometimes, just changing your environment for an afternoon can help. So if you typically write at home, why not pop out to a coffee shop? 

Try something new

When was the last time you mixed up your writing style? Wrote a little poem, or even just practised free writing with a pen and bit of paper?

If you’re not getting the words out, why not experiment with different styles and topics to get your creative juices flowing?

Structured fun 

Some of us need to be free to create. You know, take our bras off, sink into a chair and tie our hair up. But some of us really thrive with goals and structure. If this is you, why not create you own rules and limits?

Set a time limit for writing each day. This could be for an hour or two after lunch. If you find it helpful to break up your day, make that into part of your routine every week and optimise this bit of structured fun time. In fact, research has shown that shorter blocks of work are more beneficial for creativity.

Many friends of mine swear by the Pomodoro Technique of 25-minute stints of working, followed by a short break. I naturally do this by being unable to leave my phone alone for more than 15-20 minutes at a time…

Don’t force it 

If it’s not working today, bench it. Forcing writing hardly ever works for me, and if you’re feeling creatively burnt out, then take a break to recover.

This advice isn’t even really specific to writer’s block, it’s pretty much anything that isn’t working for you. If you’ve looked at it from all angles and you just can’t get onboard, if you can, put it down and come back to it.

Writer’s block prompts

If you’re stuck for ideas, why not try writing about these prompts?

Write about your most embarrassing moment 

Write about a secret from when you were a child

Describe your favourite cooking utensil – in all its detailed glory

Imagine you’re lying on a desert island; what does it look like?

Write about your typical Monday

If writer’s block absolutely derails you, or you just hate writing full stop, why not see how we can work together? Find out more about what I do here.

How to go viral on Social Media

Are you looking to stand out? To create thumb-stopping content? To be the next social media SUPER STAR?! 👑 

Then these super easy breezy tips are here to help you set up good habits, processes and a place to start with content creation. 

Disclaimer: none of these tips will actually make you go viral but they’ll all contribute to getting you to a place of making good content that will stand out. And you know, all it takes is one relatable piece of content to go viral and whoosh, off you go. 

Quality over Quantity

What good are vanity metrics if people double tap and then scroll on by? It’s a bit like trying to find love by dressing up and hanging out in the frozen food aisle:

lots of people might pause and smile at you. But then 99% will just go on with their shopping.

Create content that makes people stop and want to find out more about you, your brand and your journey. Grab that little red heart, plus maybe, a little piece of their actual heart?

Be Consistent

Did you know that it takes on average 66 days to form a habit? It takes a bit of work at first, but creating content that stands out and actually matters is kind of the same as any skill or habit-building action.

So, it’ll require a bit of effort at first but make a plan for when you’re going to show up, be it daily, weekly or annually (do not recommend unless you’re really famous, 0/5 stars) and stick to it.

Get Chatting

Not everything is about you, Janet.

Not a joke, just a fact. It’s not all about you, it’s all about your connections. Use language that works for your audience, find a tone of voice that works for you and just start a conversation.

Top tip: add a ‘call to action’ to your posts to tell them what you want them to do next. ‘Double-tap if you feel this’, ‘Slide into my DM’s for free doughnuts’, ‘visit my website for all of my secrets’. That kind of thing.

Caption This

Captions are a fantastic place to share some personality, inspiration and a good ol’ story. It doesn’t need to be an essay, but maybe a bit more than a haiku.

Unless you’re really good at haikus.

Instagram are (obviously) very secretive about the algorithm but it seems like longer captions tend to do better. And of course they do, your audience is getting a bit more of an insight into who you are.

Go Viral

Ah, the ultimate goal: to go viral.

People are weird, poeple are fickle. Sometimes things just work and it’s because they’re relatable, funny or just really, really odd…

I can’t tell you how to become an overnight sensation, to go viral or to become the next TikTok superstar, sorry.

BUT by creating relatable, shareable content, you’re one step closer.

You’re a Winner, Baby!

There’s no secret sauce or quick fix to standing out and showing up, and ultimately going a bit viral on social media. But these cute lil’ tips should give you a solid foundation to start.

If you’re floundering, you can always slide into my DM’s and see if we can work together. No promises to make you go viral though.

How to motivate yourself & live your best life in 2021

It’s never too late, or in my case too early, to be whoever you want to be. There’s no time limit. Start whenever you want. You can change or stay the same. There are no rules to this thing. We can make the best or the worst of it. I hope you make the best of it. I hope you see things that startle you. I hope you feel things you never felt before. I hope you meet people who have a different point of view. I hope you live a life you’re proud of, and if you’re not, I hope you have the courage to start all over again.

I love this quote, especially that final sentence. Although, did you know it’s often mis-attributed to F. Scott Fitzgerald, it’s actually from the film adaptation of The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. 

But I’m getting side-tracked before I’ve even got started! Kicking off a new year is exciting, there’s so many possibilities but there’s also SO MUCH that you could do, that sometimes it can all begin to flood in and starts to feel a bit like overwhelm. Whether you’re hoping to smash some new goals or just looking to level up in the new year, motivation can come in dribs and drabs. Especially with the whole global pandemic continuing to thrash around us. 

Did you know that about 80% of people don’t achieve their New Year Resolutions and give up by February? So, if you’re anything like me and the openness and possibilities of 2021 feels exhilarating but also a bit paralysing, here’s some of my top tips for motivating yourself and freeing yourself up to live your best life in 2021. 

What do you want to achieve in 2021? 

I actually don’t usually set New Year’s Resolutions, I tend to set myself goals on my birthday in October instead. And they’re less goals, but more small ways to make myself happier and open myself up to new soul joy. Like when I turned 27, I decided that I was going to be more ‘fuck it’. And when I turned 29, I wanted to be braver and say yes to more things. 

But after sitting with my feelings from 2020, I decided that I wanted to come out of 2021 as my best self, both mentally and professionally. Rather than goals for 2021, I set an intention for the year to: show up, be present and do the work. It’s all a process, I don’t think at the end of this year, I’m going to be fully developed and ready to be printed out and framed, but I want to be closer to who I want to be and where I want to be in my work. 

So, sit with your past selves and have a think about the ways you want to grow.

Why do you want to achieve this goal? 

The why is so important. The why is what will keep you going when your motivation begins to flag and as you ride the results rollercoaster. Goals will only work when the why matters to you, is this something you want to do or something you think you should do? As you move through the year, keep the why in your head and it’ll help you stay motivated. 

Choose realistic and achievable goals 

Hands up if you’ve been guilty of deciding that you’re going to completely revolutionise your life and turn over ALL the new leaves in a new year, just to quickly feel overwhelmed and giving up? Yeah. Me too. 

It’s about being realistic, and mentally, we love to tick off smaller goals and achieve results quicker. By breaking a bigger goal into smaller ones, you’re more likely to stay on track. So, if you’re wanting to be healthier in 2021, break it down into working out 2-3 times a week, hit your 5-a-day, aim for 6 glasses of water. Rather than just leaving it in your head that you MUST diet and lose 10 stone by February. It’s just not realistic, achievable – or very healthy. 

Track your progress

Whether you’re a visual person or like an app to keep you on track, keeping an eye on all of the progress you’ve made towards your goal will keep you going. Set up milestones or dates in your calendar to check in with yourself, as well as daily or weekly tasks that will help you hit your mini-milestones.

Find some accountability

We all need a sounding board and a person that’s gonna give us a bit of tough love to keep us on track. But even if you don’t have one person that’s going to buddy up with you, tell everyone you can about your goals, from friends to colleagues, because after all accountability and the shame of public failure keeps us going, right? 

After I chose my intention for this year, I shared it on my Instagram with a cute little Happy New Year animation, I then shared that post to my Facebook page for a little bit of accountability.  

Celebrate yourself

It’s SO hard to do the work and improve ourselves, especially when things are fine and comfortable. So, if you’re absolutely smashing through your goals and flying through 2021, make sure you reward yourself and take some time to sit and celebrate how absolutely amazing you are. 

A combination of just who I am as a person and a year of work being knocked over by COVID-19 has left me with a lot of imposter syndrome and in December I made the decision to confront these feelings and do the work to tackle this mindset over Christmas and in January. Working on ourselves is hard and it’s uncomfortable and it leaves us all open and vulnerable, wondering where these feelings and bits of ouch came from. So, every bit of progress you make is valid and worth, so celebrate it. I celebrated my work and progress today by buying myself a super soft pink jumper. Celebrate yourself, especially when you’re tackling hard bits.  

Switch on your internal cheerleader

If you tend to be a Negative Nancy or you’re flooded with imposter syndrome like me, it’s not enough to just think ‘I can do this’, you need to surround yourself with positivity and uplifting energy. Whether books, YouTube or podcasts are your jam, seek out content that boosts your good energy and surround yourself with positivity. 

A lot of people talk about toxic positivity, and I’m not talking about sitting in a burning house and pretending everything is fine. But I know myself, that I need to try to seek out the positivity and inspiration to keep me going, otherwise I fall into overwhelm, what’s the point and I’m a fraud anyway. Which is probably a bit more toxic. 

Stay consistent 

Every glass of water, every time you remember to take a tote bag to the supermarket and every scary pitch you send out with ‘the worst they can say is no’ mentality is progress. It’s taking you closer to your goals and these small and sweet tasks help you to stay consistent and keep on track. 

If it doesn’t work, adjust, adapt or just throw it in the trash

If something just isn’t working for you, stop. Sure, you’ve told everyone that you want to do x,y,z by a certain time but if it just isn’t bringing you happiness or helping you to grow or develop in the way that you want, you don’t have to do it anymore. 

How freeing is that? This is your life, if you’ve given it your best shot but something isn’t bringing you happiness and it’s just not working? Stop doing it. Throw it in the trash. 

Whatever you hope to achieve in 2021, I hope it brings you a huge amount of soul joy and helps you to get where it is you want to be going, and not just where you think you should be going. 

And hey, if you’re looking to level up your business in 2021 and are looking for a storyteller who can turn words into stories packed full of feeling to help you connect with your audience, why not drop me a message and see if we could work together this year?

How to be happy

Happy,
adjective:
Feeling or showing pleasure or contentment.

That thing that we’re all striving for and constantly in pursuit of, can be summed up in the Oxford English Dictionary in just six words. I think on the whole, we all need similar components in order to be happy: people that love us, good health, time to spend on things we enjoy, the freedom to be ourselves. In fact, positive psychology theorises that it takes three key components to be happy: the first is materialistic and the knowledge that our basic biological needs for food, clothing and shelter is covered. The second is social-based, that we have meaningful and loving social interactions with friends and family. Finally, the third component comprises of a stable environment, an understanding of the world and where we are in it, how we contribute to the world and society; for many, this is where faith is satisfying and creates a stable and secure outlook on the world.

So how do we collect all three keys and unlock that elusive happiness? It feels like happiness is this tangible, hold-in-your-hand, goal that you actually get to tick off your list, but of course, in reality, there’s no truer cliche: happiness lies within you. Whilst on my break this morning, I read a really interesting blog on Refinery29: Why you should stop worrying about failure and embrace quitting. Essentially, it discusses why we should quit or give up on the things that don’t make us happy as opposed to striving for perfection and refusing to give up on things, just because of the stigma or embarrassment we’re worried we might face. Basically, if it doesn’t make you happy or serve a worthwhile stepping stone on the path to being happy, fuck it. I’m paraphrasing, of course.

When I turned 27, I decided to be more fuck it’; honestly, I get so caught up in being likeable or living up to this perfectionist expectation that I have of myself that I get stuck and trapped in a little cycle of sad and gloomy, so I decided to spend a year being a little braver and being just a bit like fuck it. I’m still a people pleaser, but you know, I like to think that I’ve made progress and we all have our flaws. But maybe 25 year old me was on to something, maybe caring a little less about the things that don’t serve our happiness, that don’t help us to collect the three gold coins so that we can be ‘happy’, then what use are they serving to us? Why are you still going to that job that you hate or trying to eat kale?

As a frequent sufferer of poor mental health, I am fully aware of how able-ist it sounds to be like, ‘oh you hate your job? Quit!’ ‘You live in a tiny studio in Catford where you pay roughly eight million pounds a month in rent? Find somewhere new!’ ‘Your friends aren’t very nice? Buh-bye.’ I understand that life isn’t that simple and black and white. So maybe we need to start looking for things that serve our path to happiness and quit on the things that don’t, so stick at that shitty job whilst you find a new one, decide whether living a bit further out brings you some joy and maybe make some new friends, because your friends should be nice to you.

Maybe happiness is just as much about striving for the things we think will make us happy, as well as cutting down and out the things that make us unhappy. Maybe happiness is about being brave and choosing to be happy, choosing the things that make us happy over the things that don’t, even when the things that don’t are comfortable and familiar?

Maybe by simply choosing proactively to be on a path to happiness and contentment, that’s how we manage to be happy.