Writing isn’t just for journalists and authors. With the onslaught of practices such as content marketing, brand journalism and branded content, marketing has turned into a writer’s game. HubSpot’s 2013 State of Inbound Marketing Report found that 62% of the just over 3,300 global executives, business owners and marketers surveyed will blog in 2013. There’s real benefit to this type of content–focused strategy: 82% of marketers who blog daily acquired a customer via their blog, as opposed to 57% of marketers who blog monthly.

5-ways-to-cure-writers-block-besides-watching-twerking-videosSure that’s great, but how about the actual act of blogging? Sitting down and doing it is a lot harder than talking about how great it is. Does this scenario sound familiar?

You’re staring at the two sentences you’ve got on the screen and switch windows to go “research.” Ten minutes later you find yourself watching “twerking fails.”

Ladies and gents – I’ve sooo been there done that.

There are times when I sit down to write and words flow out of me so elegantly that I catch myself in a state of ecstatic bliss, strutting around campus like Joseph Gordon-Levitt.

And then there are the days when I sit down to write and I feel a familiar tension creep its way into my shoulders and neck. Perspiration starts to form along my hairline. I stare at the blank screen in front of me with a deadline slowly weighing in on me. I decide on need more information, when actually I’m watching this:

I’m not going to say that I’m embarrassed (because really – it’s hilarious) but it’s an excuse that’s not putting words on the page.

Writer’s block is something that hits all of us, but there are practical initiatives you can take to help take the fear out of your blogging efforts. Here are some that have worked for me:

Write every day.

Good writing is a habit. Do it consistently and the act not only becomes easier and less daunting but your writing improves, too. I struggle with this more than I’d like to admit. There’s always that fifteen-minute phone call you have to make; there are always dishes to be done (you know it’s bad when you use this as an excuse).

But I guarantee you there’s time in your day to write. Even if you don’t finish an eBook or a blog post, committing at least half an hour a day to writing conditions your brain and body into the act and soon, the idea of sitting down to write won’t send you into panic attacks only soothed by enormous amounts of chocolate (or is that just me?).

If you need help finding some time in your day, I suggest this post by Andrew Dumont. He uses his magical powers to create a 26-hour word day.

Write when you have an idea not when you have a deadline.

When that little light bulb goes off in your head, and you suddenly feel the rush of a good idea flowing, respect that and start writing. Don’t put it on the back burner, because you’ll never get to it. Write when the idea is fresh, not when you have a deadline.

Read. A lot. 

As I was holed up in the library the other day reading for my magazine writing class, I was struck by the simplicity of this idea for idea generation: read, read, read. The more you read, the more you now. Makes sense, right? Also, the more you read other writers’ styles and opinions, the more ideas you’ll have AND examples of great writing to follow, making the process less daunting. 

I recently read Drake Baer’s Fast Company article featuring Ryan Holiday’s exquisite advice on finding more time to read. Check it out for not only an example of a stellar writer (kudos to you, Drake) but also some great tips.

Write. Then edit.

This is a lesson I learned from an English professor of mine. On a couple of occasions, I visited her office with grandiose ideas for my next paper and then I’d proceed to tell her my unoriginal sob story: I just don’t know where to start. What she told me has forever changed the way I approach writing:

Just start writing. Don’t think about a beginning, middle or end. Get your ideas on the page and then go back to play with and mold them into something another human could understand.

Still having trouble? Take a nod from Hemingway: write drunk; edit sober.

Turn off your phone… I MEAN IT.

I’ve learned that I can’t have my phone within sight while I write. I find myself continuously checking it to see what’s going on anywhere but where I am. Apparently I’m not alone either. According to a study in the journal Personal and Ubiquitous Computing, study subjects checked their phone 34 times a day. This wasn’t out of necessity, the researchers found, but out of habit. Loren Frank, a neuroscientist at the University of California, San Francisco recently told CNN “each time you get an e-mail, it’s a small jolt, a positive feedback that you’re an important person.”

While you may very well be an important person, for the health of your writing and content marketing efforts, put that distraction away when you’re writing.  Don’t worry – the shakes only last a couple of minutes, and you’ll be so amazed at how your focus improves that you won’t even mind.

These are not the final words in curing writer’s block; there are smarter people than I out there that have collected a lot of data and have put it in their computers and analyzed them with science to give provide us with some excellent information on writing habits and processes. But the ones I’ve listed are what works for me, and I hope they bring you some clarity and peace in your own writing process.

P.S. If you want one more excuse before you start writing (only one!), enjoy this.