There’s nothing worse than sitting down to complete a writing assignment for a client and coming up empty. As you sit there staring at a blank screen, your anxiety grows and writer’s block begins to undermine your confidence in your own ability to deliver this piece on time and according to your client’s expectations.
Writer’s block is actually more about confidence and timing than it is about writing skills. Even the most skilled, experienced writers can find themselves struggling to put a few sentences together. Before panic sets in, here are some tricks you can use to get the words flowing.
Throw out perfection
Think of writing as a process, not a product. Writer’s block happens at the beginning of the process when there are no words on the page. VA writers often hold back at the beginning because they want to get it right. There is no way to be wrong at this stage. Stop trying to get it right and just write.
Writer’s block comes with a heightened feeling of anxiety that escalates until you can’t remember which came first the block or the anxiety. Maybe you are nervous about meeting your deadline or possibly you are anxious about doing a good job on the assignment. Writer’s block may trigger anxiety, or your anxiety paralyzed your brain causing your inability to produce even one single coherent sentence. Before it all spirals out of control, take a breath. Close your eyes, clear your mind, and take some deep breaths.
Take a walk
It may seem like a waste of time in the middle of your workday, but getting outside can help relax your anxiety and clear your mind. Twenty minutes spent walking around the block is more productive than an agonizing twenty minutes spent staring at a blank screen. Sometimes you just have to make a time investment up front to reap the benefits later on. While you are taking in the fresh air, your brain is processing in the background. Clear your mind and let it go. When you get back to your computer you’ll be ready to write.
Writing on a computer is far more efficient than using pen and paper, but there is a downside. That is the same device you use to check email, search the internet, and check on social media. You might not even realize that instead of concentrating on your virtual assistant writing, you are following up on notifications of new messages in your various accounts. Either turn off notifications on your computer or find a quiet place to work with just a pen and paper to get started. Once you get some ideas down and writer’s block is over, you can return to the computer to finish the project.
Play with words
You may be taking this writing assistant job too seriously. Loosen up and have some fun to get the words flowing. Take the topic of your piece and list as many words as you can that rhyme with it. Make up silly sentences with a bunch of those rhyming words. Turn the topic into a character and write a funny story. Word play will help you loosen up and let your ideas flow. Slowly turn your attention to more serious descriptions and keep writing. Your writer’s block is gone.
Phone a friend
Instead of various and random distractions, you need a calculated break from worrying about writer’s block. If the words just aren’t coming, stop trying and call a buddy for a completely unrelated chat. Catching up with a friend or relative will relax your brain and boost your confidence. After about twenty minutes, return to your work and watch how freely your words flow.
When you run into writer’s block, don’t let it spiral out of control and undermine your confidence in your ability to deliver for your client. You are a successful virtual assistant, writing is part of what you do. Do whatever works to overcome the block and keep on writing.