Hey everyone, I’m having a major major writer’s block. This can happen to any blogger, writer, or pretty much any creative. You feel out of sync and the work becomes much more difficult than usual. The flow just disappears. Poof!
My problem began when I went to visit my parents in Thailand earlier this year. I had such a great time in Chiang Mai. My dad took care of almost everything and I had very few responsibilities. I just had to help my mom exercise every day and help her eat occasionally. My mom’s health was a concern, but she was better than I thought. Hence, I felt good. Also, Covid was under control there so I could try new restaurants and cafés every day. Ahhh, that’s the life.
It was such a stark difference from the US experience where we have been stuck inside since March 2020. I felt disconnected from every US problem since then. Even the storming of the US capitol didn’t really raise my eyebrows. It just felt so far away. Shrug… At the same time, personal finance issues in the US also faded into the background. It was hard to care when I was having a fantastic time in a different time zone (+15 hours). The stock market was going gangbusters anyway so I felt rich.
Back to the grind
Unfortunately, every party must end. I’ve been back for a month now and my list of blogging topics has dwindled down to a big fat ZERO, zip, nada, zilch! Heh heh, this is why you’re reading about getting over writer’s block rather than a personal finance topic. Fortunately, I know how to do it. I mean I’ve been blogging about personal finance for over 10 years and have written 1,400 posts on Retire by 40. (Coincidently, what a nice round number!) I’ve covered all 7 personal finance topics pretty thoroughly and ummm repeatedly. This isn’t new. I’ve had writer block before and I overcame them. Today, I’ll tell you how to get over a blockage and become productive again.
Get over writer’s block
The #1 thing to do when you’re stuck is to take action. To get over writer’s block, you have to start writing. That’s most of it. That’s the secret.
It was Sunday afternoon and I had less than 10 hours before this post is supposed to go live. Unfortunately, I procrastinated the whole weekend because RB40Jr’s best friends came over on Saturday. It was spring break and the kids wanted to play. It’s all good. They all need the exercise after a long rainy Portland winter. After lunch, I sat down and focused on writing. I knew from experience that once I start writing, the words will come.
At first, it was slow going, but the rhythm returned pretty quickly. Before I knew it, I had 500 words! Here is my process.
- Put on a nice set of headphones and start my blogging music playlist on shuffle.
- Pick a topic. This one was tough because I had nothing. I went with my gut and wrote this post about writer’s block. Otherwise, I’d spent precious hours browsing the internet for a “better” topic.
- Just start typing. This is a stream of consciousness kind of thing. I just type, mistakes and all. I fix some stuff as I go along, but I leave most problems to edit later.
- Edit several times. This is where I clean up mistakes, rephrase sentences, remove irrelevant stuff, and fill out details.
- Voila! A 1,000+ word blog post.
This is the classic move – Fake it till you make it. When you’re stuck, you just have to take action and pretend you know what you’re doing. Eventually, it will come. The work might not be perfect, but you will have something to present. If you do it often enough, you’ll improve. The work might turn out to be quite good. This point is important.
The main reason why I can get away with blogging like this occasionally is because I’ve been blogging for so long. I built muscle memory over the last 10+ years. Now, when I sit down and start writing, the words just flow. And the result isn’t too bad. Of course, it’s better when the topic is on point (personal finance) and I prepare more. However, I’m just stuck sometimes and I have to wing it. I’m a huge believer in sticking to a schedule. It served me very well so far. I post every Monday, come rain or shine. Even if the blog topic isn’t personal finance, it’s okay. Nobody is perfect all the time.
Anyway, this is muscle memory. Once you master something, you can do it once you get going. This is the same process with drawing, working out, biking, and almost everything. Sometimes, you don’t want to exercise, but you make yourself go to the gym. Once you’re there and start the routine, you feel better and finish the workout. You just need a little momentum and your brain/body will know what to do.
*Here is my tutorial on blogging – How to start a blog and why you should.
Whew, I almost made it through this blog post. I got away with it this time with my winging-it proficiency, but I need to do one more thing to really get over this writer’s block. I need to rekindle my interest in personal finance. Next week, I’ll follow more financial news, blogs, and podcasts. Hopefully, that will rekindle my FIRE mojo. Ha, a pun! Seriously, I need to rebuild my topic list.
Alright, here is the summary on how to get over a writer’s block or any kind of block.
- Take action and just do it.
- Keep doing it to build muscle memory.
- Rekindle interest in the topic or you might need to find something else to do.
- Optional – make a good music playlist that can play in the background.
Keep doing this and you’ll get your mojo back.
Have you ever had writer’s block or got stuck in a rut with your work? How did you get over it?
Image credit – Emma Simpson
Passive income is the key to early retirement. This year, Joe is investing in commercial real estate with CrowdStreet. They have many projects across the USA so check them out!
Joe also highly recommends Personal Capital for DIY investors. They have many useful tools that will help you reach financial independence.
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