SNM149: Breaking Through Writer’s Block

You’re sitting there staring at a blank page. Seconds turn into minutes and then into hours.  You can feel your life force fading away as your dream novel turns into a living nightmare.  Is there any way to escape this mental prison?

A Dose of Reality

Writer’s block only comes when you decide to procrastinate.

If you are writing a book by the seat of your pants and “even you don’t know how it’s going to end,” then it is your fault that you ran out of ideas.

I hate to do it, but you need a little tough love.

You tried to cut some corners and now they are cutting you back.

Whenever I hit a wall in my writing, it’s when I find a blank space in an outline.

[easy-tweet tweet=”If the waypoints in your outline are too far apart, there is room for writer’s block to slip in.” user=”servenojonathan” hashtags=”servenomaster”]

Deal with it Now

In the moment, it can feel like an absolute nightmare and you hate me for giving you some tough love.

But if I don’t, you might run into this wall over and over again in the future.

Once we diagnose the root of the problem, we can avoid a relapse in the future.

Start working on another chapter or project. That is the easiest way to get past this blockage.

I always have multiple projects on the go to allow me to hop around and keep my mind happy.

When you start to lose interest in a project, the writing gets a lot harder.

Sometimes you just need to cleanse your palette.

Plan for the Future

Be fastidious in your planning and research for your next project.

It’s hard to go from writing back to the researching phase.

It can feel like taking a step back and through your entire machine off-kilter.

Make your outline one step deeper and see if that solves the problem.

Often adding one more layer to your mind maps is all it takes to make writer’s block a thing of the past.

If not, use the rest of the techniques in today’s episode.

Show Notes:


Key Points:

  1. Start working on something else to cleanse the palate
  2. Make your outlines one step deeper
  3. Use free-form writing exercises to release your mind

Resources Mentioned:

20K a Day

Kindle Book Description Generator

Breaking Orbit

Serve No Master on Amazon


Most other links can be found in my TOOLBOX


Send in your questions to podcast [at] servenomaster [dot] com


Read Full Transcript

Breaking through the writers block on today's episode today's episode is brought to you by digit save money without thinking about it get paid five dollars just for signing\digit today are you tired of dealing with your boss you feel underpaid and underappreciated if you want to make an online fire your boss and start living in retirement dreams now then you have come to the right place welcome to serve no master podcast where you learn how to open new revenue streams and make money while you sleep presented life from a tropical island in the South Pacific by best-selling author Jonathan Greene now your post if I have some quiet time away from your family or your job names of stop making noise it's one chance start writing but the words will flow Ettore the worst feelings in the world for me one of the challenges that I've been doing with lately and it's really effective as podcast as you know if you follow my emails we've had a lot of medical problems in the family had to travel help take care of wife my kids and all these things happen in the podcast is the first fallen off of Steuben recording episodes actually some not as far behind the recordings but the challenge for me is finding time which quite enough to court I live on Paradise Beach and yet there's pretty much construction 24 seven last night after went to bed I woke up with York later walked outside there was still 20 guys doing construction next door with a giant cement mixer and here for some reason they love the circular saw so there's a circular saw a running around 22 hours a day the only time that I can poured with is not a solid running nearly is at five in the morning but over the past few weeks because of what's going on I like to start putting our son to bed earlier he's just a little over year old he normally wakes up at 6 AM lately's waking up at 4:35 AM and that's my recording window and so getting a precious opportunity recorders can rare rare finally last night I made him watch a movie with me it's a little before five in about 20 minutes early recording to have hope in your court to three episodes to kind of catch up this means there's all the more pressure on these few moments when I get a bit quiet because in addition to everything else half the time I come outside it's pouring rain I record these episodes on my porch but if it's raining the rain is so loud on the tin roof near me in a real storm and departed a few past episodes that I can't record anything if the full on storm before I start recording I can do for us of the rain it's too much all of these logistical challenges have kind of really made this time valuable precious since increase the pressure on me and there've been a few mornings where I woken up and there's a message at work emergency or something else to distract me I can't think of what I want to do an episode about have about 50 ideas written down somehow I love that list I go I hate all of these I don't like any of them and I don't write latest topics or Thomas topics that day so I know the experience of writers block in this way because my time is limited for podcasting and when you have that moment of writer's block there's two ways to deal with you could you fit in the moment and you could use it through preparation but let's imagine you're in the moment right now it steals in the moment first I'm a big big believer in writing Scripture I wish I was a scrivener affiliate for the firm is so cheap they don't pay anyone to recommend it I probably convince hundreds of people by the software I would say I use it not seven days a week but very close to that of the entire year of the 365 days a year I use it more than 320 for sure this occasion of their days were not doing any writing or I take occasional day off but otherwise have changed everyday my life is Scripture yesterday I work on multiple different projects. I love it because it divides up my documents into small sections so when you get stuck in section 5 when you're writing in word or church a word processor and adjust the flow when there's nothing you can do yeah this is empty space in front of you otherwise you just have to write skip section and start the next section below it looks unwieldy and feels uncomfortable feels natural both Scrivner and there's plenty of the rhyme dock program to do the same thing this happened to the one that I was trained to have the one that I use audio swear rather soft you can this chapter next section is not a big deal you credit for all the time to become natural in fact trying out like a book yesterday and I had an idea what I was writing like chapter 7 and I thought all I should skip this earlier see because my eyes I now outline my books in handwritten note I do a lot of my outline in my hand I want to spend as little time on the computer as possible to protect my eyes my eyes from getting tired or sore strained souls writing down everything in the notebook and you can just move things around normally went out move chapter around a drawn arrow from it and put it in the two chapters of and I thought as is about to go there I go I don't need to want to record what they dictate actions of Putman Scribner average drag and drop if I really still one of the chapter and later subject deal when your in that section and you can't think of what to write and you can't think of how to break the right slot there a couple of the exercises that you can do the first is to skip to another section in your document you can jump to the next chapter you can jump later in the book you can jump into an entirely different solution I do this all the time scales working on the book I got to a section where I really didn't have the notes on the prepared for this particular project that started before my eye problems began so the notes are actually in my iPad yes values and iPad avenues in the same iPad for as long as you can follow me because I believe my iPads five years old at least I had it since before I met my wife so that means at least five years old might be six does Risley try to figure out which version is the came figure which version is your flick look at the serial number something so I try to figure out is worth updating and there will is looking to use it for I don't play games on out to any other apps on your own thing and use of is my mapping outlining and so far it's working like a champion if this works great the new iPad versus reference all I need import all my books and I can jump any empty sections dictate them out on the beach but assumes a hit that section I go I don't know what to talk about next I need more detailed notes this is a technical section and I wrote the notes are actually Google docs are having with me I know how to record the section would I jump to recording of a section I do something else so sometimes writers block me caused by I have information. Have an idea no record that section today I will find those particular notes added to that scrivener dock and when I go outside to dictate everything will be all good it can seem overwhelming and you get stuck in this moment saying no problem is broken have to fix it right now and we tried to fix a broken sexually trying to break through your writers block you end up writing slower unit writing some thought that great men spending a lot of time writing small amount of information seeking the right 200 words about the section you got writers block on or 2000 words and some other sections so the first thing I recommend is just another section the second thing you can do is to block out what you want to cover in section so sometimes I'll just write three or four bullet points and then I move on also here's the 345 things don't happen as seen Sam and Jessica talk seven just to get new catfight Jessica says you know what I never loved you anyways just grabs her bag and storms out four bullet points okay we covered the movement of the scene almost think of it in the way that they write scripts listen to actually a lot of scriptwriting podcasts because they approach things differently and you can get away with less information to describe what happens you could just write down the rough idea for senses more than enough information for you to write the rest the book and you can go back and tighten up and rewrite that scene if you don't know what happens you can just to general idea increase the conflict that women come back later you know you're looking for in addition I'm always working on multiple projects this month I have three books coming out 20 candidates done it's edited I finished formatting yesterday for Kindle now I need to format it for paperback which will be done this week as well the only thing holding back the releases that I need to finish the 20 K page on my website and the 20 K cheat sheet that comes with download as a free gift from the books of the book is then at the stuff in the book is finished just the two accessories the two extra things that just have to complete bring up across the finish line Troy your fate only dictated fully transcribed my neutral Scriptures finished everything and send it to me and I finished dictating influence persuasion yesterday time to go through and do a little editing the hand of those to see what if I look like in the book for both of those books they should both be done in the next 2 to 3 weeks and I'm popping and released to the same time what are you starting a Marty halfway through dictating a ghostwritten book for another client and I got several more books outline their coming out next I don't do projects and series I don't start research for a book and stick with that book until it's completely done edited and published and it started an excellent that's not how I approach books because of writers block because sometimes I get bored sometimes I rented of ideas I like to run products in tandem so I always have five or six books that are open right now because I close multiple books instrument actually flew a little bit of alert from the start recording new book probably tomorrow once I finish the one I'm working on today that only few chapters left the ghostwritten book some stuff when I get caught up and frozen in a scene are running out of ideas two different project so if you're feeling stuck in bouquet this is why you should always have booked me on the go now you might not meet similar phases in both books for example in one book you might be in the creative process another book you might be in the research analytic processor sitting on the right he really say okay I just kicked me in the past I am not feeling stuck frozen jump to both me and start working on your outline your work in your research work on your idea as an independent author especially if you're in the fiction space I know that writers block is a fiction writer tougher working on a series is very very valuable best way to achieve financial success is to have a series of books so that when people finished book one the rebook to and in book 3 and then look for you'll find that the majority of authors making big money as fiction authors having big successes authors on Amazon their series offers that's a big big key to success and I can tell you that when I find an independent author Re: my way through their series and getting to jump from one service to the next by the same author as sometimes I hesitate so ago moved to I want to read another series by the sky but the same author of 20 books in the series not read the whole series that even a thought about a jump from book to book to book and candle limited anyone before, Limited existed obstacle book to book to book in the series this is very powerful and this is a key to successful planning your next book is worth it because that's when you start to achieve that financial success having books 2345 so even as a fictional future outlined in the next book and I recommend staying within the series rather than jumping Gordon holding topic Junior facing writers block most of my tactics are about avoidance this is because I've never experienced anyone hurt anyone ever overcome writer's block directly by just attacking and I certainly never have now this is if you have the hard version of writer's block we can't think of a single word derives there's a lesser version that I'm all too familiar with where will your writing stinks and that is happened to me quite a few times when writing and I'm not feelings now again there, ways of doing it depending upon what I'm writing sometimes I'll write it out and I'll mark nothing and up and Asterix next to the chapter title in Scripture so that I know the content is there but I'm not happy with it sometimes this will happen on the move under this chapter is the wrong place or move it around this happened to me recently I moved the book moved to chapter in the book 20 K day earlier in the book from the ending of this is in the wrong section moves the beginning and never rewrote it I never reedited it may only notice in the final edIT the day before I start formatting and someone pointed out because the sections we and I looked and I realize it was happening should I moved it was an orphan section it was no longer the writing area moving sections around marking when something is broken these help you to overcome the softer version of writer's block were just happy to see not happy with the section also I have this belief that if you're 50-50 if you're kind of in the middle of the road on a sick check I'm not sure I like I will hate it suggest were thrown*you can just begin it's right up the idea or just right up to bullet points and that, come back and minutes later because I know it's not right but beyond avoidance sometimes the promise my state I'm a method writer there a lot of people who are method actors and I'm a method writer so when I am writing for specific audience I get into a specific emotional state if you happen to read my book you will get swing the book is very emotional and I got into a deep emotional state I was only watching lifetime movies and listening to love song music and sad music at the time I wrote that book with the book over the course of the week and at the time whenever he would talk to me I would snap them and be very emotional to be almost overly emotional but this how I would right in a way that my female on its responded to obscene work as the books the most successful book I've ever worked on I knew that my audience a female audience in what reading a book about relationships doesn't want series of steps is one analytical objective story they want an emotional journey making follow with men think what relationships often in a more analytical way are more I don't quite see scientific more step eight a step he is to step see whereas women especially in relationships the journeys are important and understand my audience understand the language they speak I modify my language I had to get into that emotional state and of course was very difficult for me to get out of it whenever I worked on follow projects that's what I do whenever I need to write sad scene ready to write something sad when my stories are talk about something painful as you know the ransoms that explains my life recently well I listened to the same song over and over again this is country music song it's human the name of it right now but it's from this movie came out recently it's movie about Jeff Daniels and is a country music singer prescribed a drinking problem in his life is falling apart and he writes the song the becomes a hit from the country music singer that's really a song that's the only song in my country is mixed have a country music folder my spot five minutes out one song I think is called the lonely kinds of you like that I post a link to the song below yes that is in the show notes so sad dealing with alcoholism and prompt kids is common my family could I do it as well so it very much affects my not affected by that's the point you find the song that makes you sad I recommend begin to build out with using iTunes or spot of fire if you classic soon playlists based on emotion these songs make this I have a friend who died when I was young he died at 17 a car accident I have a very specific so that I play to remember him my heart is Microsoft the song to you that may or may not be sad may or may not be mean anything the sun might be a bit of a love song things a bit of a breakup at the mainline and the songs are to my close my eyes to see her face so when I was that song close my eyes and I can see Michael's face on Michael's been gone for 20 years now and I try to remember him every day is as long as I can remember him than a part of them still life in the same way that I hope that these podcasts might log a matrix of my children my books will help me achieve a similar form of immortality through memory probably not forever but hopefully for at least a few years after I got so have songs that can bring out that emotion me when I'm writing a song about the section about grief and I listen to that so sometimes I promise not to be can help words of Thomas to be taken in the correct emotional state and that the method right I do that sometimes I need happy music and sometimes I need funny music and so I use music as a tool I'm a big fan of Bob Ross I know that some people don't take them seriously as a painter but I actually think that he was a genius who found a way to bring painting as an art form I the act of painting as a craft to the masses in the same way that most writers hit Hemingway for writing books of regular people to read Bob Ross paying the regular people say I can do that I followed along and he would take you on the journey and if you don't know is he was the guy PBS who had a show called joy painting had a few links to show up throughout the website there's tons of his videos on YouTube you can order everything action for it was like his show was on here for 33 years that's why Windows we have someone my age and older probably knows who gets how many TV shows last besides Mr. Rogers how many so maybe it's just the fact that PBS shows last forever but he would be painting he would say all this is a happy cloud and these are some secret treaties to humankind emotion adjectives each thinking strong and in the same we would pull colors from power and they would speak him I use music in the same Apple music for my palate to put me in the correct emotional state help me paint my picture now I don't do this with every single word I write I don't always rely on music tracings many of the sections I'm writing are just stories to me or they're just part of my life by just teaching something talking about how I write faster doesn't require me to get into an emotional state so I don't use this all the time but whenever I have writers block rental stuck in a scene it's one of the best things I can do I've use this tool for separate years and it's been very effective for me additionally there are some exercises you can do to get warmed up if writers block is not based on the scene is not based on emotional scene it's not hard but as long right but it's more time sitting down and because it's your one chance to write you cut from the all I got to be effective and so the time the moment is freezing you have another strategy for you what you can do and this is a technique that requires a pen and notebook Rappahannock as you know I have three noble connections they can bring a forth into the mix I'm doing so much writing by hand by separate different nobles have a notebook just for podcast stuff I have a notebook for book outlines now have another notebook where I just can write ideas and most of that noble to most holy filled up so I mostly keep that around because that had the titles of a bunch of book ideas that I thought about doing still in it so that notebooks almost at enema to bring the new one and I maybe bring in my notebook as I doing more exercises to work on clinical way from the computer but having more more notebooks on a big believer and it's funny that as you become more more technologically begin to rely more and more classic tools and there are some real cool fencing opens out that there's a notebook out there now they can write in everything you write and it appears in your computer and then you can microwave it and use again in his notebook five times its radical I want my cliff so I'm really limited I thought it was kind of interesting with the kneeling at five times I'd rather have something unlimited then a big amazing but probably five times as lot anyways five times is probably enough for me is that means it would last about a year to two years but sit down with your notebook put pen to paper and then your job is to close your eyes and just write whatever comes in the mind forget your project for The seniors was to write about just right set a timer you do five minutes great if you don't do 30 seconds that's acceptable and just right don't worry about spelling punctuation can't write my hand what you're doing is unlocking the creative part of your mind when your eyes are closed your hand is just writing it doesn't matter what you write you remove all the pressure seat when this matter what you write you move the pressure from your mind Hank just write whatever comes into it when you cover your eyes you remove the second pressure of checking for mistakes or analyzing let your can fall off the line the right to look ridiculous summers constantly wrong Congressman Ron place but because you can't see it as a matter it doesn't matter because that's how I were writing were not writing from her for punctuation I don't use punctuation grammar or spelling all in my initial writing total waste of time I'm in a creative space from the zone of the flow I don't want things that slow me down I don't have spellcheck activated on any my programs grammar check activated if I want to do a grammar check have to open up a separate piece of software copy my work into it only with doing writing this way your eyes closed my hand it would just release a bit of your creativity and it can break that stopper breakthrough that writers block in an unexpected way so whatever's distracting you it's no longer extracting and sometimes just I just need to get writing I just need to get warmed up times and am writing I don't like what I'm working on and so I just need to get that last block I just think it started to get a few words editing done this happens to me more when I'm ready my hand when I'm dictating you should I'm dictating our problem in the same way with dictating because one thing with my ritual of sitting out on the dock I got to steps in my process about their then I it's really just talking so it's not as much of a barrier for me when I'm writing social work on the book I'm not that excited about having outlined in enough detail that's when these things start happening so to prevent writers block as a whole will circle back to the core idea writers block occurs we haven't prepared enough hard writers block where you can't think of anything that society didn't outline a research and prepare enough is like you to come up with the right words will not the emotional stuff will help you get over and activities how to get the right so but for certain anyone wants to write the sexual battery problem I don't know what to write regular notes was right next is a sign see the book I'm ghostwriting right now I ran into that a little bit because of lack of preparation I could work on a section of part of it is that I was originally writing on the computer and I had one set of notes here and have a scrivener over there and had some recordings from the person working with on another screen but because I had to change you have to dictate the book because of problems with my eyes because of my inability to spend as much time at the computers I use to its led to a series of little prompting of color built into something exciting huge problem from an open of the two notifies incognito to the scrivener this morning and the promise God lack of research needs to writer's block you should spend more time researching than you do writing for every minute writing you should spend nine minutes researching my books research is everything I have an assistant who works for me all she does this research I sent her videos books training courses and she sent you back notes on them I you don't have time to research everything in the world that I want to I wish I did sometimes I'll send her 30 or 40 hour video training course and she sent you back a couple PDFs of notes that helps me to get that information how to find the best nuggets of wisdom for example if someone put out a course about putting a book on Amazon all have her take notes on everything is he really only take notes and stuff that I've never heard before so anything about different ways of getting reviews that's the most important thing to me and find new ways of getting abuse that's what I bring another picture and that's for me that's for the gold she could find something fair that little nugget that I haven't heard anyone else that I added to my own repertoire I test and if it works in IB and share with my audience noise work with the time the guilt sometimes is a cool idea what times 90 at her for tried it and try something I'm always looking for that specific negative wisdom in the content but research is that important that in addition to my own research if someone works a full time just doing research and the fact as I look at expanding the team I life bringing another researcher might become necessary to have more researchers that I More content prepared with how my life is changing I'm making a lot of adaptations now that I dictate everything and not spinning as much from the computer changing my output and changing the way I work so I may need more research unable to increase my output and my time is spent on site dictating and I may do some changes work but research is critical when you're writing fiction if you don't know can happen in the scene don't write I didn't see the enhance of course you can get block all the time read Libby Outlook right by the seat of your pants her pants off outlining I recommend difficult time I read it I think it's really brilliant when I finish off my list of the hundred and 50 nonfiction titles and a jump in affection and are you kind of thought through some of the outline of the first 10 books in my series my mind it's been a long much time and I like to withdraw limit activities I found it very manageable very understandable so this is what I recommend research care yourself put everything together is not just about the time and getting ready to right also about having information ready so right now my son is asleep he slept in late it's not raining out there are some birds making noises how to get it perfect is maybe this occasional boat released and was blasted by the motorcycle which I consider is the wind so I got through this recording without a massive supplies in the background that I have to edit out later all that wouldn't be enough I sat down I said why don't have an idea what I want to write about but in fact I thought yesterday writer's block is a good topic that to prepare yourself in advance and use these techniques and you'll never have to face writers block again thank you for listening to this week's episode serves no master make sure you subscribe so you never miss another episode will be back tomorrow with more tips and tactics on how to restate that reference head over to serve no now for your chance to win a free copy of Jonathan's bestseller serve no master all you have to do is leave a five star review of this podcast see you tomorrow thank you for listening this episode of the serve no master podcast join me on my Facebook\serve no master

Jonathan Green

Living the dream on a tropical island, Jonathan is the author of Serve No Master and the host of the Serve No Master Podcast.

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