Note from Crystal: I’m taking a break from the How to Make Money Blogging Series this week to let my friend, Jon Acuff, share a post on breaking writer’s block. I think many of you who are bloggers or freelance writers will enjoy his post. And be sure to stop by his blog — it’s one of my favorite blogs on the planet!
Guest post by Jon Acuff from JonAcuff.com
“Oh the irony, you can’t think of an opening sentence for a blog post that’s supposed to help people beat writer’s block!”
That’s the first sentence that came to my mind as I sat down to write this post. And as such, it had the honor of breaking through all that deafening white space on my laptop.
That’s something I do sometimes. I recruit whatever sentence is in my head to go first, to throw itself on the blank page grenade. To take one for the team and be that brave, often ugly sentence standing alone in that ocean of nothing. That big, often terrifying maw of blank that is waiting for you to fill it. With words and ideas and creativity and it’s just so empty.
You’ve got writer’s block. And maybe the “first sentence in my head goes first” approach doesn’t work for you. I’ve had writer’s block, too. In the last two years, I’ve written three books, dozens of freelance projects, and around a million words on my blogs.
I had writer’s block writing my new book, Quitter. I had writer’s block writing the content for the Quitter Conference. I’ve had 100 bouts with writers block. I will have 100 more.
Here is one way I’ve learned to beat it: Ask future you to be awesome. Whether you’re a writer or a car mechanic, the fear of perfectionism often talks us out of doing the things we’re called to do.
We don’t want to start because we’re afraid whatever it is we do won’t be perfect. So we sit and wait, scared to make a single move and write down a less than perfect sentence on our blogs.
What I do in those moments is ask future me to be awesome. I think to myself, “OK, right now, the stuff I write, might not be awesome. So Future Jon, the guy who will rewrite what I write tomorrow, will you please turn this into something awesome?”
And then I write. Future Jon’s got it all under control. That guy is going to do something amazing. Today Jon? His only responsibility is to get something, anything really, down on paper. It’s OK if it’s horrible. His job isn’t awesome. That’s Future Jon’s job.
The funny thing is that often, midway through writing the first few pages, I forget about that little arrangement I’ve made between Today Jon and Future Jon. I’ve never had a moment where hours later or days later, Future Jon has sat down to read what’s been written and thought, “Oh, this Today Jon is killing me. What kind of nonsense is this? How am I supposed to make this awesome?”
Nope, Future Jon is an appreciative fellow. He’s just glad that Today Jon got anything down on the piece of paper because that was really his only expectation.
Maybe that sounds weird to you and it probably should, because I’m weird. So let me say it in a different way. Next time you sit down to write, I want you to say one thing to yourself:
“Later, I’ll be awesome. Today, I’m just going to be productive.”
And then just start.
Have you ever struggled with writer’s block? What did you do to get over it?
Jon Acuff is a speaker, author, and launcher. He has written three books including the Wall Street Journal Bestseller Quitter: Closing the Gap Between Your Day Job and Your Dream Job and Stuff Christians Like. You can read more of his work on JonAcuff.com or follow him on Twitter @jonacuff.