How to overcome writer’s block

“The secret of getting ahead is getting started. The secret of getting started is breaking your complex overwhelming tasks into small manageable tasks, and then starting on the first one.”  Mark Twain

I have been writing various blogs for a number of years and generally I can come up with something interesting to say every week. But Covid-19 hit our shores in March this week (thankfully neither I, my family and friends have had it, fingers crossed that continues) and I stopped. It was a mixture of that early lockdown feeling of helplessness and fear and then merged into ‘I’ve been doing very little of interest so have very little of interest to say’.

I joined Medium about a month ago and started off well coming up with great articles to put up. And then I stopped there too. I could not think of a single thing to write that would be of interest to anyone reading Medium. Which is outrageous for me for I have an opinion on everything. For the first time in years, I experienced writers’ block for something I should have had no problem doing.

My background is journalism and PR. I began my career as a cub reporter on a local newspaper at the tender age of 18 in 1989. Since then, I moved into PR and worked for many years, happily concocting stories for a range of publications.

So, what’s happened now? I’ve been thinking about it this morning and I think it’s a form of stage fright. After 30 years of writing articles on everything from murder to a new hospital building, I’ve allowed the doubts to flood my mind and stop my creativity.  WTF?

And do you know what’s got me started again? I sat down this morning and did a bit of free writing and mind mapping and suddenly – boom – I’m back in business again. That means I produced some articles for Medium and I’m back writing this blog again. And some other projects I’m involved in. Which is great. Go me!

Now there are people who will argue writers’ block does not exist, but I’m very much in the camp of those who say it does. I have experienced it many times before. It’s literally blankness of the mind over a certain project. When I’ve had it, I cannot think of a single thing to write on any subject. It’s happened with writing both fiction and non-fiction.

“If you get stuck, get away from your desk. Take a walk, take a bath, go to sleep, make a pie, draw, listen to ­music, meditate, exercise; whatever you do, don’t just stick there scowling at the problem.” Hilary Mantel

How do I normally get over it? Usually, I just write any old thing until I get back into my writing rhythm. However, recently I’ve been working on a lot of different projects and I think being more than a little tired has taken its toll. So, I sought the advice of the great and the good on the internet and came up with the free writing and mind mapping.

Hmmm? I wondered, maybe I could share some nuggets of how to combat writers’ block. So, here we go folks, a top ten of tips for getting over writers’ block:

  1. Just write anything – usually this works for me. The aim of doing this exercise is to just write. It doesn’t matter how good or poor the prose, just get something, anything, down. It’s actually a form of free writing.
  2. Take a break – go for a walk, read a book, clean out your wardrobe. Do something where you are not thinking about writing and before long an idea will pop into your head that will have you scribbling again.
  3. Tell your inner critic to ‘shut the f*** up’ – by telling yourself your ideas are no good, your writing style is awful and you can’t write, you are murdering your creation before it’s even taken breath. Write the damn thing and then edit. If it’s still crap, ditch it. However, you are more than likely to find that there are nuggets of greatness in there, what Virignia Woolf called ‘diamonds in the dirt’ (I’m paraphrasing because I saw the quote earlier and then couldn’t find it again).
  4. Start a writing routine, do it every day. That way you will improve and by forcing yourself to write you should, hopefully, not come up against writers’ block. Okay, so I write every day and I did come up against writers’ block, but this is you we’re talking about.
  5. Write your first draft without editing it. Set it aside and then go back hours, days, weeks later and edit it. Do not edit as you go along. You will never get it finished.
  6. Plan your writing. Even short stories, poems and short articles need an element of planning in them. Sit down with a notebook and pen and write out everything you want to say. Put it in the correct order then write it up. This works very well for me for novel writing. I need to know what I’m writing next and why I’m writing it in order to get the next chapter down.
  7. Can’t get an opening line right? Just leave it and go back to it. This is your first draft so it doesn’t need to be perfect.
  8. Write somewhere different. Get out of the house, go to your local café or library and write there. A change of perspective is always good.
  9. Is your writing still not working? Take a holiday from it. That could be a day or a week or a couple of weeks, and then go back to it with a fresh outlook.
  10. Write for yourself and no one else. If the genre isn’t working for you, swap it for one that does, that you love. Don’t just write it because you think other people with love it. Write what YOU want to write, not others.

“[Only jolter-headed], conceited idiots … suppose that volumes are to be tossed off like pancakes, and that any writing can be done without the utmost application, the greatest patience, and the steadiest energy of which the writer is capable.” Charles Dickens

Confession time

Okay, so I’ve really been trying to keep up with my blogs, but my businesses (I have three small ones) have started to take off again and I’m finding it difficult to find the time and effort. So, bear with me, I will get back into writing a social media blog soon. Promise. I’ll squeeze it in somehow! 😂

In the meantime, here’s some of my latest posts… Dawn xxx

This week in Social Media-land

So, I’ve been experimenting with advertising in various places for my social media business and I already have a winner with regards the number of queries I’ve been getting. It’ll probably surprise you to learn that the biggest number of potential clients I have contacting me have come through an ad on Gumtree. Yes, it shocked me too. I would never have thought about advertising on Gumtree, but a friend of mine runs her business via ads on Gumtree and is very successful doing it. So, I thought I’d give it a try. It cost me £8.99 for an ad I put together myself and it’s working. Who would have thought it?

Anyway, how’s things with you? How is your business going? I’ve been upping my personal social media presence recently both for this business and for my author business. I’ve been building my followers and things are looking good.

So, some things I’ve been concentrating on this week are quotes from author. As an author myself, I love to read quotations from other authors and I particularly like them if they are used with a fantastic image. This morning, I was working on some for my own author social media platforms. Here are a couple of my favourites:

As a Facebook post.
The Pinterest version.
Facebook version.
Pinterest version.

I like to do these in several different sizes so I can use them in different social media platforms. As you can see, I always do a Pinterest version as this is a great way of raising awareness of my brand. I don’t do a hard sell on Pinterest, but the more I post the more people get to know me – particularly as an author.

Right, I will finish up here and bid you adieu. I have now switched hats from social media to writing. I am currently working on a tv series script, so I’ll blog again soon.

Dawnxxx

Some tips on gardening

This week I’ve been doing some social media on gardening, so if you’re interested, here’s a few posts…

This was the first in a small campaign to give my client’s followers a few simple gardening tips.

My client does domestic and business cleaning and property management. Although gardening is a small part of what they do, I wanted to break up all the posts on cleaning with something a bit different.

I chose images that were bright and eye catching.

And some simple tips that won’t break the bank, are too time consuming or are difficult to do.

Dawnx

Getting back on my feet

Well, things are slowly returning to normal in Scotland and it feels good. So, I have promised myself I’ll get back into writing up this blog. To be fair, I haven’t been sitting on my backside watching telly all day during this lockdown, I have been working on three big projects. Plus I had a degree course module to finish, so it’s been pretty full-on the last few weeks.

Unfortunately, this lockdown has affected a number of my clients and I’m really hoping they all get back up on their feet as quickly as possible. Got everything crossed for them. It’s been a tough time for them and many others.

My business has taken a bit of a tanking as well thanks to the Corona Virus outbreak. However, I’m staying positive and getting back into promoting all the things I can do. I’ve started advertising again and am hoping I’ll start picking up some new clients. Watch this space! 😉

Right, I’m going to finish up here with another Social Media image. These ones I’ve been using on my author social media platforms. I really like positive and inspirational quotes which is why I use them often in my social media. They can really lift your mood. Here comes the last one:

Why It’s Important to Keep Your Business’ Social Media Profile Going Just Now

Learn from yesterday, live for today and have hope for tomorrow.

The Corona Virus is having an unprecedented affect on all our lives. And many small businesses are suffering due to the lockdown, some irreparably. This is just a quick blog post on why you, as a business owner, should still be keeping your business’ social media going.

You may think it’s a waste of time continuing to post on Facebook or Instagram while your business is closed.

But you should think about continuing to do just that.

And here’s why:

  1. It’s a great way to keep your business in the minds of your customers.
  2.  You can share information about what’s happening with your business. For instance,  if you are able to offer part of your business or some sort of service, people want to know. Also, a friend of mine runs a café, but can’t open. So, she’s baking and delivering cakes for key workers. A local Italian restaurant is doing pizza delivery.
  3.  You can offer advice online to anyone who asks. The whole point of social media for businesses is to build a relationship with your customers. If they have a problem and you can help, but are closed, it is helpful to them to be able to discuss their issue with you online. Okay, it’s not in person or even private (unless it’s a private message), but maybe you could offer them a solution, even if it’s temporary.
  4.  Maybe you could offer customers online classes like some of our local fitness business people have. They’ve been doing yoga, Zumba, Pilates and other classes online either for free or charging a nominal fee and keeping their businesses afloat. Others, such as dance teachers and music teachers are doing the same. Are you a beautician? Could you offer makeup lessons? Anything that will provide value to your customers and keep you in their minds whilst your business is closed. Maybe you are a plumber. One of the most watched people on Instagram is that of an English plumber who loves to bend the perfect bend in copper pipes. But that’s not all he does, he also offers tutorials and advice on carrying out small plumbing jobs. Do you run a photography business? Show your best ‘in lockdown’ photos and ask your followers to show theirs.
  5.  Perhaps all you have to offer are some words of wisdom. People like quotations. If you run out of something to say on your social media, search the internet for inspirational quotes and put that up. Again, it’s all about keeping your profile up.
  6.  Are you a food business that is not deemed essential? Well, maybe you could do a charity cookbook with donations of recipes from your customers. That will get a conversation growing on your chosen social media platform and get people talking. Or you could just offer up a few recipes of your own to share. Or show us how to make and knead a proper loaf of bread.
  7. Are you a well established business, why not share your history or show how you produce what you produce? You don’t need to go into specifics such as recipes, but a general overview would be interesting.
  8. Consider doing a video: either of yourself talking to camera or of images put together in a video editing programme such as Movie Maker.

alice

Look, what I’m saying is there are lots of ways you can keep your online profile up. What you need to think about is:

What’s my core business?

Which part of it can I share with the public? What would be of interest to them?

How can I make it interesting? What images can I use?

What do I want to say to customers?

mirror2

Okay, I’m going to love you and leave you right now. All through this are some posts I’ve been using recently plus a wee advert of my own. It’s promoting a novel I’ve just released under my other business, D  A Nelson, Author. I’m not an expert at doing videos, but I had brilliant fun doing this. It was done on Win Movie Maker and was really easy to do. Go on, have a go. You’ve got nothing to lose.

Dawn xx

 

It’s such a strange time just now

home

Hello, how are you all? Hopefully, you’re all doing okay. This is my first post on this website for a few weeks. Truthfully, the whole Corona Virus thing just pulled the rug from under my feet, like it did everyone else, and it’s taken me a wee while to adjust to the new way of being. I was fine the first week, but it was the start of the second week that it really sunk in. However, being a somewhat positive person in my outlook, I decided to give myself one day of feeling down about it all and then picked myself up and got on with it.

Fortunately, not much has changed for me apart from not being able to go out and about and meet up with people. We’re trying to do that online, with tea or wine depending on the time of day (I’ve not slipped into daytime drinking yet! My kids are off school, so I’m not promising that won’t happen! Ha haha! ;-D). My business has felt the pain of the lockdown, like everyone else’s, but as I was only just beginning, so not too much. I’m lucky that I don’t rely on it for income.

Unfortunately, I do have friends who are small business owners who are feeling it and I just hope they can come out of this as unscathed as possible.

Anyway, I’m using this time to continue to upload social media for clients in the hope that after we come through this things can get as back to normal as it possibly can.

idea

I’m using this time, though, to brush up on existing skills and learning new ones. I’ve being doing some courses on Masterclass (for my writing) and Udemy and playing around on various mediums (such as Canva and InDesign) to see where I can learn new things.

What have you all been up to? I hope you’ve been lucky enough to still be able to work from home.

The other area getting my attention is the garden. I am not a natural born gardener, but I have been out “doing stuff” in it. Got that on the agenda for today too.

Right, I am going to finish up here and wish you all well. Stay safe!

Dawn xxx

 

 

 

A hectic week being a social media guru

Peter Hagerty

Jeezo, the weeks are flying in. I can’t believe it’s halfway through March already. And it’s been such a worrying week with the Corona virus taking hold everywhere. I’ve gotten over the lurgy, but have had such a busy week that I’m writing this blog almost into the next week.

So, last week a women’s business group – Women Rocking Business Helensburgh and Lomond – I am involved in got a visit from Richard Leonard, leader of the Scottish Labour Party, and Jackie Baillie MSP. They were there as part of International Women’s Day and finding out about women in business. Anyway, I was there in my capacity as a member of the group, their Facebook social media guru and as a local businesswoman. It was a nice meeting, we had quite a few from our group there chatting to Richard and Jackie about the perils and pros of being a small business owner. It was a good meeting.

If you see someone without a smile give them one of yours

Business-wise, things have been pretty hectic. I have a lot of other things going on in my life, not just the social media business, so I’ve been run off my feet recently. I’ve been working hard to raise the profile of my business whilst continuing to raise the profile of my clients and, I’m pleased to say, it’s working.

Right, I need to go. I have another two blogs to write tonight!! Oh yeah, that’s another thing I could do for your business!! 🙂

 

Dawnx

 

The Lurgy hits

illness

So this week I have mostly been feeling yucky and sorry for myself. Yes, the Lurgy struck and left me feeling all shivery, sneezy and just not well. It was a bad head cold and I’ve yet to shake it off. Hopefully by the start of next week, it’ll be gone.

Anway, I did manage to do all the social media stuff I had to do, so that was fine. There’s nothing worse than having clients relying on you and you’re feeling rubbish. But, I just dosed myself with hot Ribena and got on with it.

So, due to aforementioned bad cold, I’m way behind with everything. I don’t have a good article to post today, but I will work on it for next week. Promise.

Right, am away now. See you next week,

Dawn x