How To Fight Your Writing Demons

7 Writing Challenges You Can Overcome

Are there days when you can’t write a single word? Recognize you’re not alone (which is difficult since writing tends to be a singular activity.) Understand that most writers, regardless of their facility and output, face these negative spirits at some point.

To get your writing back on track and keep your content compelling, know that you have the power to destroy these writing demons.

Here are seven writing tips to assist you.

  1. Don’t wait to get your ideas down. Often great ideas come to us when we’re in the shower or busy doing something else. Do yourself a favor and capture the essence of what you’re thinking before it disappears. I wish I had a dollar for every time I thought I’d be able to remember an idea later only to have it disappear before I got around to using it.
  2. Don’t start with a blank page. Having an expanse of a white screen or paper is intimidating. Instead, collect ideas for your writing wherever you are. Make it into a game by forcing yourself to create outlines from your everyday activities. Alternatively, rewrite one of your old articles from a different angle or use someone else’s title and force yourself to write a new piece. (Note: This doesn’t mean plagiarize someone else’s work!)
  3. Don’t force yourself to start at the beginning. In elementary school, I went through pages of paper trying to get the best first sentence. Instead go where the energy is for your writing. Put your words on paper without worrying about them too much. Once you have a basic draft, you can polish it.
  4. Don’t wait for the optimal word. Keep writing. Don’t interrupt your creative process to look for the best possible word. This takes you away from your writing and doesn’t necessarily result in a better outcome. It’s important to use the language of your audience. So skip the fancy words. Getting a thesaurus in fourth grade was almost my downfall. I spent more time seeking the best word than placing words on the page.
  5. Don’t just write in one place. While building a writing habit working in a special location, such as your office, can give you a cue to start writing, it can be good to break up your routine by writing in other locations. Make a writing date with yourself. It can be a special coffee shop, the park or the library. The idea is to train yourself to commit words to your screen wherever you are. For example, I’ve taught myself to write on the train.
  6. Don’t keep polishing a piece of writing to make it perfect. Accept that you’ll always find something else to fix in everything you write. That’s what red pens and copyeditors are for. Realize that continuing to correct an existing piece of writing is an excuse for not getting on with the next one. Are you holding your self back?
  7. Don’t allow yourself to procrastinate. One way to let yourself off the hook from writing is to keep finding reasons not to put your words on the page. Take my word for it, you can always find something that’s more important and pressing than your writing. The problem is that writing doesn’t get easier if you decide to do it later, you just have less time to do it.

Writing demons come in a variety of forms. To overcome them, you need to take steps to keep your writing on course because you have to understand that your writing will never be as perfect as you think it is in your mind. Writing something that is “good enough” is much better than not getting any writing done at all.

What other writing demons do you face? Do you have any other suggestions for overcoming them

Happy marketing,
Heidi Cohen

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4 Responses to How To Fight Your Writing Demons

  1. Great post. I got tongue tied for 3 months last year and didn’t post any blog posts. Thinking about it, some of your tips there were ones which got me going again!

  2. Tammy says:

    Thank you so much for this! Some of the methods I already have in place – I keep a small notebook (3×5 size) in my car so anytime I know I will be waiting – dentist office, tire store, in my car because I’m ridiculously early for an appointment – I pull it out and start. Often I already have an idea in place, or I just let the new scenery inspire me, or I look at the ongoing list that I have on my cell phone when inspiration struck when I didn’t have a pen.

    I had to snicker when I read this because just this morning (while waiting for tires to get installed), I kept fighting a first paragraph. It wasn’t good enough. Reworking didn’t help. So I decided to move on and skip to a different topic, which morphed into the first, and into which that first paragraph I tried to write fit perfectly in the middle! I love it when a plan comes together!

    My biggest demon is when my blog post writes itself into a direction I never intended and don’t like. Bad blog post! I have so many hijacked topics – It reminds me of the movie Adaption (I have an upcoming post on just this topic!) where the screenplay writer keeps injecting himself into the movie.

  3. Marly says:

    My demons come in the form of drop dead fatigue, where I cannot make myself write for weeks at a time. The only thing that will sometimes get the muse going is to read my own blog posts and get myself laughing. (It’s pretty pathetic when you laugh at your own work, isn’t it?) As I’m a comedy writer, another thing that sometimes works is to read magazines, especially something like Oprah’s fashion advice. “Oh, come on! Nobody in their right mind would wear that, at least not where I live; they’d be laughed into insanity! I dare you to wear those stupid shoes through the snow and ice, even after the sidewalks have been shoveled and salted. In fact, I’d like to watch you try!”

  4. Tunde says:

    Heidi, thanks so much for this. You exposed the secret. A good starting point for me.