As the famous Kenny Rogers song goes, you gotta to know when to hold 'em, know when to fold 'em, know when to walk away... know when to run.
These are wise and applicable words for many areas of life - including writing (believe it or not). When it comes to writing, the time to walk away (and maybe even run) is when you're working on a piece of writing that just. isn't. flowing.
It happens to the best of us (including me - ALL the time) and, when it does, it's tempting to persevere despite the lack of flow, in the name of getting the $#@% thing done - but this is actually the worst thing you can do.
Continuing to write in this state almost always results in wheel spinning, wasted time, and a crappy piece of writing. This is because writer's block (or writer's frustration, if you prefer) is a sign that your brain is WAY out of its creative state - where it needs to be to write well - and operating from its (but far less fun and creative) side instead.
(In case you're interested: your brain truly does have two distinct sides. Only one can be in control at a time. You want your creative brain in the driver's seat when you write, and your logical brain to kick in when you edit. The trouble is, as I said, the logical brain is waaaay bossier - think your Type-A big sister - and tends to take over when it has no business doing so. Interesting, eh?)
Next time you find yourself feeling stuck, frustrated, or out-of-flow when writing, get up and take Kenny's advice: walk away.
If you need to, stay at your desk and shift your focus to another work-related task. But if you can, it's even better to remove yourself physically from your computer and get moving.
Every SINGLE time I do this, I return feeling inspired, creative, and ready to write. My (not so scientific) rationale for why this works? I believe the mind continues to mull things over in the background and, without the pressure to perform, is able to sort itself out and make sense of things.
A fresh desk 'session' also majorly increases the chances your creative brain will be back in the driver's seat.
So try it next time - it may seem counter-intuitive, but it's a time-saving (and frustration-saving) tip that'll make for better copy! Want more tips like these? Hop on my mailing list and I'll send 'em right to your inbox!
Janet Nielsen is a communicator with a passion for helping small businesses succeed.