Don't you hate writer's block?

I, like many writers, often find myself staring at a blank screen. In and of itself this isn't such a bad thing. The problem is that the screen has a nasty habit of staying blank. And, unfortunately, the powers that be have so ordained the laws of time so that deadlines never get further away. Only closer, minute by minute...

So what to do?

Here are my top five tips for beating that insidious evil - writer's block.

Tip number one: Do something else
Yep, that's right, don't even try (sounds like advice my school careers adviser gave me). Often as we became more frustrated the best thing to do is simply to walk away and come back later. Go for a walk, play with your kids, stand on your head and sing the national anthem...whatever you like to do to relax. Stress is the worse enemy of creativity. No matter how many times you bang your head against the brick wall that is writer's block you aren't going to knock it down. However, take a break and come back and you may very well notice the door right next to where you were just smacking your head against them bricks.

Tip number two: Don't care what you write
One of the biggest problems I have with writing is separating the writing from the editing. But this is exactly what you should be doing. If you find yourself continually writing a sentence only to critically read it back and delete it - stop. Just write. Don't worry if what you write isn't any good or even makes sense. The important thing is that you are writing. Tell that critical voice in your head to shut up. Writer's block can't affect you if you are writing. After a while come back to it and knock it into shape with some deft editing. You'll be surprised at the amount of sense you actually do make if you just let your writing juices flow.

Tip number three: Brainstorm
If you are having trouble writing complete sentences, why not give single words a go? They're much easier. Grab a piece of paper and simply write down every word that pops into your head. Again don't edit or criticize. It isn't even particularly important that the words have anything to do with the subject you are trying to write about. Just by writing something, anything, you are getting yourself into the right mindset. Once you've written a dozen or more words try fleshing some of the more relevant ones into complete sentences.

Tip number four: Keep a notepad handy
Writing, like most creative enterprises, is not something that can really be done nine to five. Ideas can come to you at anytime. Keeping a notepad on your person at all times allows you to capture those ideas when they come. That way when the deadline is looming for that article you don't have to worry about coming up with ideas. You can just flip open your notepad and there will be dozens of ideas there for the taking. Nice.

Tip number five: Google it
Google is your friend. If you are having trouble thinking about what to write simply stick some ideas into Google and see what comes up. Chances are that there will be plenty on the web to inspire you. Now I'm not advocating plagiarism here, because that is naughty. However, reading other people's writing on a particular subject may help you to think about the problem in new and exciting ways and beat writer's block.

So there you have it. Five simple tips that I use to beat writers block. They don't all work all the time, but usually they help me to get the article finished. Or started.

What are your favorite ways to beat writer's block?