Blogging regularly is heavily encouraged for photographers, but it’s just not quite as easy as that, is it?
For about 6 years, I’ve written around 100,000 words per year. This year, I suspect I will write more than that given I wrote 32,000 words for Fstoppers in February alone. It might sound like I’m patting myself on the back — and I guess I am — but the point is that I am consistent, which has not always been the case. In fact, consistency is without question the hardest part of writing anything, let alone something limited to a certain subject, like photography. I haven’t “cracked” writing and can now write free-flowing articles without thought; in fact, statistically speaking, I probably experience more writer’s block than ever before. I just know it can always be overcome, one way or another. Here are my go-to methods for a mental de-clog.
It’s never a bad idea for your physical health, but a lot of research shows the benefit of exercise on mental health too. So, rather than sitting at your desk, grinding your teeth, frustrated to the point of rage, go out and do something physical. It doesn’t have to be a monotonous run if you don’t enjoy that; it can be going to the driving range, swimming, or whatever else. It could even just be a walk. The point is to engage in something very different. One of the ways this helps me is true for many of these tips, and it’s based off a theory I once heard.
Allegedly, if you’re trying to solve a problem, but can’t make any headway, you should clear your mind or focus your mind on something else and let your subconscious work on it. It does seem a bit of a “fluffy” bit of a science, but whether placebo or not, it does seem to work for me. Exercise has this effect, but so do many other options.
This follows on from that theory nicely. I mean, who doesn’t get the best thinking done in the shower? Not to mention, you dominate some gripping imaginary arguments too. Well, put that thinking time to good use!
I’ll be honest: I haven’t figured out meditation yet. The evidence is in, and I appreciate its value and the value it has for many others. I just haven’t found my way in to that world yet. I have had numerous friends, colleagues, and acquaintances preach the benefits to me, and I don’t doubt it for a second. It plays nicely into that working subconscious tip too.
A wise man (actually, it was a school teacher in a rap battle) said: “before you write something, read something.” This is stellar advice for writing of any kind. Time and time again, this has saved me when I’ve been cursed with the blank page. Sometimes, I will read the news; sometimes, I’ll read a business book; and sometimes, I’ll read fiction. I honestly can’t differentiate the effectiveness of each, despite it appearing to be in the right order the way I listed it. What tends to happen when I’m forcing myself to think of an article to write is I get locked into a narrow scope of topics. By reading something completely unrelated to photography, an unusual idea might pop up, or a connection will be made between something outside of photography and an element within it.
You’re told at school to stop talking, a lot. But words are words, and chatting with a friend on the phone or in person does wonders for getting those words flowing, even if they’re not out of the pen or the keyboard. After a conversation, I’ll often find that I’m out of that irritating word constipation where every sentence feels like a chore.
What a ridiculous “tip” to have in an article about writer’s block — I know. However, on occasion (and I’ll confess it isn’t my most successful method), I’ll just force myself to start writing about a topic. I don’t care how choppy the prose is, or how flat the words are, or even how far from publishable the work is. The point is to get something down and then either hone it, overhaul it, or bin it completely and write something better.
Bonus Tip: Have a List of Ideas
I’ve mentioned this one before, so I’ll keep it brief, but it’s one of the most important. Have a document you can access at all times (or a notepad), and any time you think of any concept or topic for an article, whether it’s amazing or a bit weak, write it down. The list will soon populate with a plethora of ideas and titles to be fleshed out, but there’s one more crucial tip that goes with this: try not to use the list. My document once had 50 or more article ideas to be written, and I would only ever dip into it if I hit a real wall.
Highly Controversial Bonus Tip: Alcohol
I’m not a big drinker and haven’t been for a decade. I also don’t appreciate the stereotype of writers being drinkers. That said — and perhaps this is because I don’t consume alcohol regularly — if it’s in the evening and I’m not hitting my stride, I might have one drink. It does seem to have some mental lubricant properties, but this should never been a go-to solution like the rest of this list. If you’re doing this more than once per month, I would try a different path!
Over to You
These tips might just help with your consistency in writing, and I urge you to give them a try if you’re in a word rut. Even if you think one won’t work for you but you’ve never tried it, just give it a whirl. I always doubted going out for a walk would “clear my mind” like people say in movies, but it certainly seems to do something.
Writers who read Fstoppers, how do you overcome writer’s block?
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