How to Never Struggle to Write Anything Ever Again
I have never struggled to write anything. I have struggled with the quality of my writing, but writing itself always came naturally.
When I was 7, I wrote parodies of songs that I had heard (wrote is a big word – I was just inventing and storing them in my head).
When I was 11, I wrote bits for a primary school show.
When I was 13, I wrote a how-to guide about life (I have since avoided writing things I knew nothing about).
When I was 15, I wrote short-movie scripts.
When I was 16, I wrote a speech and was selected to deliver it in front of my city.
When I was 17, I finished 3rd in a speech writing and public speaking competition.
When I was 18, I wrote a feature film.
When I was 23, 24, and 25, I wrote a thesis for each of these years.
And I started writing my blog at 26.
I don’t want to brag. Looking back, I realize I have never really struggled to write anything – be it fiction, non-fiction, or academic work.
Let’s be honest, my writing is far from perfect, but I have always managed to produce something. What takes most of my time and effort when I write is not writing in itself – it is editing.
As I started looking for an audience after publishing my 70th blog article or so, I discovered Medium and its publications. I started reading blog posts about writing. I learned I should capitalize my title (whoops), write in short sentences, and avoid the passive form.
One piece of advice on writing particularly stood with me.
It was “write when it’s hard and when you don’t want it. It will be harder tomorrow otherwise”.
Hard? Did you say…hard? Since when is writing hard? Doesn’t it just come…naturally? Like talking?
Apparently not. I guess I can consider myself a lucky chap.
This discovery spurred some thoughts about creativity. I started investigating why I could just write anything at any time, and how I could help others do the same.
I came up with three pieces of advice.
I am not sure they embody the full answer. But I hope it can enlighten you regardless.
Here’s how to go over the blank page syndrome.
1. Have (a Lot) of Things to Say
I have been told (many times) that I speak too much. To be honest, it is difficult for me to believe it. Yet when several people from different cultures and native languages told me the same thing…I had better believe it.
I think writers become writers because they have something to say. I have always had something to say, so I have never struggled to write.
Be it a comment, a critic, a piece of advice, the expression of a feeling, the discussion of an idea, or a simple question, I don’t remember struggling to find something to talk about.
And when I did struggle…I would simply voice it.
“Sorry, I don’t have anything to say at the moment because…” and on I was, explaining to my interlocutor why I had nothing to say.
Talk about a paradox.
What you want to develop, therefore, is the need to say something. Anything. The easiest piece of writing to produce is an opinion piece. It will be unique, and on top of that, it can’t be wrong.
Therefore, if you are blocked at a particular moment, find a book or movie you particularly enjoyed, and write your thoughts about it.
I believe that the more we write, the more we have to write. Writing more might be the best thing to do when you are blocked. It will unleash the rest of your creativity.
Alternatively, you can watch a video about social issues that you disagree with.
You’ll suddenly have a lot to say and write about – that’s for sure.
2. Write About What you Like and Know
I don’t write about what I don’t like. Rather, if I do write about that, it will only be to express my disgust or lack of interest (for example, the only article I would imagine myself writing about Brussels is “10 reasons why Brussels is the worst city in the world”).
If you can’t write about what you like, you should at least write about what you know.
I genuinely believe that a lot of people feel stuck in their writing because they don’t feel they know enough to keep going.
Whether it’s true or not doesn’t matter. Whatever you don’t know, you can learn.
As our island of knowledge grows, so does the shore of our ignorance.
If you know nothing, it will be hard to have something to say.
In this case, reading may be the best thing to do.
I would start with a general knowledge book. Read about history, check out geographical statistics, explore how other languages construct their grammar rules, learn about art and architecture, find out how the technology of the internet works, and investigate why people behave as they do.
It’s a big world. There are a lot of things to know. There is even more to discover.
So, if you don’t have anything to say…learn it first.
I was fortunate enough to start reading the newspaper at 13 years old, for lack of other activities.
The knowledge I have acquired led me to read and learn more. That saved me during exams (several times) and enabled me to make a good first impression on the girls I took on dates.
As I kept on learning, I started bridging knowledge from one field to another. It fascinated me so much that I wrote about that.
I have since become careful about reading books. One book generates so many article ideas, links to other principles, and further questioning that I read them carefully. I don’t want to be overrun by the lack of time and opportunities to write all that I would like to write.
The more you know, the more you have to write about.
3. Write With a Purpose
I think I started my blog because I was feeling lonely. I had all of these ideas in my mind but they didn’t interest anyone. The only place I could express them, I thought, was on the Internet.
So I wrote with the purpose to empty my own head.
Some write to remember. I write to forget.
Let’s not kid ourselves. I was writing for myself about things that interested me. As a result, I had only one reader: me.
That didn’t bother me at the beginning. But it eventually did.
Naturally, I went on to seek how to write content that other people read and learned a bunch about marketing, SEO, Medium, Linkedin, email lists, and…helping people.
If you want to develop a readership, they said, you have to help people.
That was dumb. But brilliant. People read what interests them. They don’t read what interests me. Ego, ego, ego…
So I tried to forget about myself for a moment. That was hard (it’s still is). My ego does not like it.
If I wanted to acquire readership, I would have to write about what interested others. What interests most people are solutions to most problems.
So I started thinking about the things I could do well and how to help people with it.
When a friend asked me a question I didn’t know the answer to, I’d google it and pick up at the same time a new article idea.
I did the same with my own questions.
Eventually, I found out that the best strategy to find writing ideas was…to ask people what they wanted to read.
One day, I asked my friends what solution to a problem they would like to read about. That’s how I came up with the idea to write about the meaning of life, one of the most compelling articles I have ever written, and for which I had to think deeply and do research.
If you are not solving your own problems, try to solve other people’s.
There are sufficient questions on Quora for you to find something to write about.
And if the inspiration doesn’t come at all, there is still one thing left for you to do: write about your incapacity to write.
The Bottom Line
I didn’t know I enjoyed writing as much as I do before I started writing. Looking back, I understand I have always written. I also understand why I didn’t mind writing summaries as much as other students.
I hope that this article will enable you to write better. I hope it will help you open the doors of your creativity. I hope it will unleash a torrent of words and emotions.
I hope you’ll go over this writing obstruction.