Is writer’s block a legitimate ailment, or did you set yourself up to get stuck?

Writer's block can be a day-wrecker.

Writer’s block makes procrastination an attractive alternative.

The idea of writer’s block is absolutely familiar to most professionals who rely on producing quality articles, novels, or listicles to make a living. However, some argue that writer’s block does not exist, and writers who often feel stuck are simply ignoring an obstacle and exhausting themselves while working against it.

Renowned English novelist Neil Gaiman argues just that. Gaiman does not believe in writer’s block, but he does “believe in getting stuck.” There are many ways to identify the problem, then use creative problem-solving to fix it. A writer who is constantly stuck should take a step back and do some introspective thinking to become a better writer.

Plan Ahead

There is a huge difference between coming up with an idea and executing an existing idea. Ideas can strike randomly, so staring at a blank page without a plan is bound to lead to frustration. Ideas don’t magically manifest on a particular schedule; however, deadlines are very real for a working writer or any creative professional.

When working with a client, make sure your deadline allows enough time to thoroughly perform each step of the writing process. Identify your best brainstorming tools and allow enough time to let ideas happen.

Identify the Cause of Blockage

Creative problem-solving can be viewed either as a tool for fixing writer’s block (or “idea block”), or as an intimidating process. Either way, viewing your work under a critical lens is part of the editing process, and is essential to moving beyond a place of doubt.

Gaiman suggests that one type of blockage that can lead to feeling stuck when writing fiction is an underdeveloped foundation or outline. Perhaps weak character development in Chapter 1 is the issue. Consequent chapters will then feel “off” if the problem is not tackled at its source.

Divert Your Attention

There are multiple ways to bust up writer's block.

Taking a productive break is healthy. Try a short walk.

Taking a break from your work every now and then is important to the creative process. However, scrolling through Facebook or binging on your favorite Netflix series may not be the best way to recharge. Get outside and take a walk, or work on another productive project. Gaiman suggests always having multiple projects. If you hit a roadblock with one, you can pick up a different project for a few hours, then come back to your original task with a new perspective.

Reevaluate the Project

If you are constantly feeling stuck in your projects and focusing tactics are not capturing your attention, perhaps it’s time to ask yourself if this is the right project for you. If your specialty is fashion and lifestyle content writing, but you are tasked with writing copy about cars, this may not be the best fit. Sometimes we all have to write articles or copy that don’t align with our interests completely, but if it’s your main gig, moving on to a different project might be necessary. This is not giving up; this is being proactive.

Making quality work is not easy, but the best way to equip yourself for success is setting realistic expectations, then growing and challenging yourself within and beyond them.

Like any other writing professional, budding content writers should equip themselves with knowledge of the field. To learn more about content writing and to set yourself up for smooth sailing, check out Media Shower’s Content Marketing Academy.

Kelly Peloza is a Chicago-based commercial photographer, food and lifestyle writer, and author of two vegan cookbooks. To learn more about Kelly, visit Seitan Beats Your Meat.