[Guest Expert] Natalie Collins – 4 Productive Writing Hacks

If you are tired of staring at that blank white page on your computer, frustrated that the ideas just aren’t flowing, keep reading, there are a few things you can do that practically trick your brain into working better.

Let’s get something straight here. That blank white page… that white abyss can be intimidating! I know a lot of people (myself included) that don’t even show up to do the work sometimes because the a) there is so much chatter going on in the brain that getting it all down seems nearly impossible, yet there is this sense of urgency to dump it all out, and b) once you see the blankness, your mind magically goes blank too.

Those are both incredibly frustrating!

I do a lot of writing for my career. I’m an entrepreneur. You may know me as Kristen’s virtual assistant. I’ve been working for Kristen for over a year and half and let me tell you, she ROCKS! (But you knew that already) My struggle comes from having so much to say, not enough time in the day to write it all down, being distracted, not having anything to say at all and a sometimes just plain scared that what I have to say isn’t worthy of being written down.

Now, this is not a pity party… no siree! I know that in order to survive in this entrepreneurial life, I’ve got to show up and do the work. I’ve got to get over any of the silly self-doubt talk and figure out a way to do it anyways.

This is not always easy, but I’ve done it.

I’ve done it through these 5 productive writing hacks that have made a world of difference in me getting over that dreaded writing block.

Here’s what you can do:

1. Write Morning Pages.

In Julia Cameron’s book, The Artist’s Way, she introduced the concept of morning pages. They are 3 hand-written pages of stream of consciousness thoughts written first thing when you wake up. This isn’t your life story. It’s not even any kind of normal writing that you would normally do. It’s simply 3 pages of whatever your mind is chattering about. Things like “I should do the dishes today” and “Oh! I really need to take a shower”. All those thoughts that run as background noise in your head.

By dumping these thoughts onto the page it opens up the space in your head to think about more important things, like what you are going to write about.

2. Change your surroundings.

It’s proven that by getting yourself out of the normal space you usually work in, triggers and stimulates different parts of your brain. This is especially helpful if you are feeling stuck or uninspired to write. By changing your surroundings by doing something like heading over to the local coffee shop or café or even the library (who wouldn’t be inspired to write while being surrounded by loads of books?) Take yourself on a Writing Date.

3. Block out distracting noises

It’s also proven that the chattering background noise of a coffee shop helps to stimulate those creative juices. However, it doesn’t always work 100% of the time. In fact, it can me really distracting if you are having a hard time getting focused. If you need a little extra help, whip out your headphones and pull up SimplyNoise.com and listen to the white noise (by personal favorite is the brown noise). This will help get your brain focus on what you need to write about.

4. Grab some snacks

Everyone loves a treat! While you are at the coffee shop, go ahead, get yourself your favorite cup of joe or that mocha latte you’ve been craving. By giving yourself a reward for doing your writing, you being to train your brain that it’s a positive experience and you will want to do it more often.

It’s also great to have some healthy finger-food type snacks (think popcorn). By keeping your mouth busy munching, it stimulates the thinking muscles in your brain and helps you to focus better. You don’t have to constantly be eating something while writing, but having something close really helps you stay on track. It also helps to keep you from wondering all over the internet and procrastinating. If you find yourself wondering, be sure to cut off your treats. Don’t reward yourself for not focusing. We are training your brain to be productive here. Treat yourself only when you are working on the stuff you need to be focusing on.

BONUS – 5. Set a timer

Giving yourself a sense of urgency can really light a fire under you. I find one of the best natural timers is that the battery on my laptop only lasts for about an hour and a half. If I want to get something accomplished quickly, I will leave my charger at home. The clock ticks away in the form of battery power.

Now, if you have a laptop that’s battery lasts for 9 hours, just use the timer on your phone and hold yourself to it.

The key is to get yourself to do what you need to do. These are the things that have worked best for me and it’s helped me get a lot done. I’ve even had people ask me if I ever sleep! By getting just 1-3 hours a day of solid focused time, you can accomplish a lot in a short amount of time.

Join me for National Writing Date Day on the first Saturday in September and I’ll tell you more about it.

Hugs!
Natalie Collins

About the Author

natalie-marie-collinsNatalie Marie Collins survived 13 years inside the corporate world. She knew there had to be a better way and figured out how to make a living by taking her office skills home and started working as a Virtual Assistant, learned the ropes of how to create membership areas, branding, marketing, digital products, sales funnels and so much more.

She now coaches others on how to build a solid online business by sharing her vast knowledge with others on how they can have an easier and better life through patterns and rhythms that work. She also helps others with the clarity they need in their business + life and practical, actionable steps to be able to move forward and create the business that is right for them.

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  • A.E. Albert
    September 9, 2014

    I needed this post today. I’m about to start on my new book and those familiar and pesky thoughts are coming back. Thanks for breaking it down. Great job!

    Reply
  • Betty
    September 7, 2014

    I like the timer idea. I plan to implement that first thing in the morning!

    Reply
  • Robin
    September 7, 2014

    Awesome tips. I especially like the first one about writing everything your mind is thinking about first thing in the morning. I’m going to try it. I think that might be very helpful.
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