Blast Through Writer’s Block With These 3 Tools

Blast Through Writer's Block With These 3 Tools

For many writers, getting stuck in a phase of writer’s block can seem like the worse experience imaginable.

Here I am, a supposed writer, and I can’t come up with anything to write. How can I even call myself a writer if I am struggling like this? Maybe I have nothing to say, maybe I’ve run out of ideas, maybe…

We’ve all been there.

Every writer will go through writer’s block, and every writer should go through it. It’s a very necessary part of the trade, those moments of doubt. Some of the greatest minds to put words on a page, including Leo Tolstoy, Virginia Wolf, and yes, even Ernest Hemingway, were known to suffer from writer’s block from time to time.

Of course, they didn’t have the internet. Which means they didn’t have access to any of the fantastic tools for writer’s block available to help bust it up.

1. Stop the Distractions with ZenWriter

As much as tech has given us in the writing profession, it has also become one of the main sources of distractions, especially on the web.

While I often write in Google Docs, I can only do so when I’m “in the zone” so to speak: it’s dangerous to start writing with the Internet right at your fingertips, there are so many other things you could be doing rather than writing.

Luckily, programmers who also appreciate the writer’s art have come up with some amazing tools to stop the procrastination and get us all back to work.

My favorite among this is called ZenWriter.

ZenWriter is a beautiful full screen-writing tool with two high quality minimal backgrounds that allows for customizations like font size and style, but does away with all of the rest.

It takes up your whole screen (start menu included), and only allows you to use bold and italics when writing: the idea is for there to be nothing but you and the page.

Pure Zen, as they say.

Distractions gone, you can now more safely avoid one of the greatest evils of writing: being in the mood to write, but getting distracted somewhere in between.

ZenWriter carries a small cost, so if you are not into paying the $9 fee to use it, try these free options instead:

WriteRoom (Mac)

DarkRoom (PC)

2.) Never Forget Moments of Inspiration with Evernote

I always advise writers to keep an idea journal to jot down whatever good ideas happen to pass by in their brain.

For those of us who spend the bulk of our time on the computer, however, there’s a handy download alternative to the old-fashioned notebook.

The free tool Evernote has been a life saver for me when it comes to keeping ideas that you know will flourish into quality writing.

Evernote is accessible from anywhere, which means you can save and retrieve ideas at any time and on any device that you may own.

You can record audio, photos, even entire webpages on Evernote, and access your collection any moment that you have some downtime or some creative inspiration.

You can organize your “snapshots” of creativity with tags and labels so you remember why you tagged it in the first place – always tricky when you’re trying to remember why you jotted down “white sand” in your notebook with no other clues to the inspiration connected to the phrase.

3.) Amp Up Your Writing Productivity with FocusBooster

You’ve got some ideas to expand.

You’ve eliminated the distractions.

Now how can you successfully pull off a monster productivity session without pulling hair out of your head?

If you haven’t yet tried it out, the Pomodoro Technique is one of the best ways to get through a long session of work without destroying your body or workflow.

It’s not for everyone, but for people who start to lose focus after an extended session of work, it can be a saving grace.

The process if you’ve never heard of it before:

    • Word for 25 minutes
    • Break for 5 minutes
    • Rinse and repeat

That means that during a 2 hour work session, you are still working for 1h40m, but because you’ve spaced out your work into blocks, you were better able to focus for each 25 minute period and won’t get up from your chair with that weak feeling of sitting down too long.

As a guy who gets easily lost in a long work session, the 25 minute blocks help me stay on task, and I usually refuel by making a cup of tea or getting a small snack to eat during my 5 minute break.

Enter the Focus Booster App, the free timer made just for people using the Pomodoro Technique.

Perfectly set up for 25 minute sessions and 5 minute breaks, the Focus Booster App offers the ease of using the Pomodoro Technique without using anything but your computer.

It also offers an offline version in case you go into “crisis writing mode”, which usually entails an entire internet lockdown.

For long writing projects, there’s nothing better.

Bonus: Compose Huge Works of Writing with Logline

This tool was originally designed for screenwriting, but I’ve found it infinitely useful for ebook writing.

The Logline App lets you organize chapters, sections, and all sorts of other information right in the program; it’s one of the best ways to organize your thoughts for immense projects that have a lot of information spread out over several sub-topics.

What about you? Have any favorite writing tech tools that have helped you break through writer’s block?

Post by Greg Ciotti

Gregory Ciotti writes for Sparring Mind, the content marketing blog specifically for WordPress users. Subscribe for more articles on how to build a damn fine WordPress site with nothing but common sense.

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  1. zen sounds good. why not try meditating as well to clear head of distractions. I have my plan for today
    and can’t read all of this right now, as there are lists of more things to download which is a distraction from where I am.
    I/m considering buying a laptop/PC and putting it in the basement without the internet just for writing.
    ,my own dark room. i might allow music though!

    • Hey Julie, one thing that I’d recommend is to obviously keep the tools to a minimum, excessive tools can turn into time-wasters as well.

      Personally, I’ve found that if I have single space where I do nothing *but* write, I can focus better; when I try to write in a location where I do other things (like slack off on the computer), procrastination will rear it’s ugly head.

  2. I only recently started using Evernote, and I have to say… I’m in love! I have it installed on my desktop at work and I downloaded the iPhone app, so it’s a breeze to transfer ideas between computers if need be.

    I keep hearing about programs/apps that put your computer into lockdown mode, but I’m not sure how I feel about that yet. Technology isn’t always my friend, so I’d be afraid it would freeze my computer and make me lose my progress or something!

    Thanks for the tips, Greg! I’ll be trying out the Pomodoro Technique next! 🙂

    • I’m with you on that Jill, I’ve tried things like StayFocusd (for Chrome) before and it doesn’t do it for me as much as FocusBooster does; giving up control doesn’t help my productivity, I’ll just find away around systems like that. 😉

      The Pomodoro Technique is great though, it helps with getting started, which I think is the biggest hurdle.

      Let me know how it goes! 🙂

  3. “Which means they didn’t have access to any of the fantastic tools for writer’s block available to help bust it up.”

    Nor did they have access to the greatest time-suck humankind has ever known: Social Media. 😉 Though the thought of Hemingway on Twitter is really amusing.

    Great suggestions, Greg. I really need to try ZenWriter. I gave Pomodoro a shot last week, and I don’t think it’s for me. Perhaps it was the state of mind I was in, but I was more productive when I abandoned the timer and just sat there and wrote for two hours.

    What’s worked for me (and is the opposite of ZenWriter) is Write or Die. I work better under a little bit of pressure, so getting those buzzing sounds and blinking lights when I’m not writing is right up my alley. I haven’t worked up to Kamikaze Mode when they start deleting words if you’re idle, but it’s great for us that need an extra push. 🙂

    • I’ll definitely have to try that out Mandy, I’ve been using something similar for email (at least I think it’s similar…) called TheEmailGa.Me, that countdown really gets you in the zone! 🙂

  4. I was just looking at the video they have on Evernote. It looks like an amazing learning tool and such a great way to keep yourself organized and share ideas. Brilliant for sure.

  5. I can’t wait to try these apps, Greg! They sound so helpful. I’m especially excited to learn about LogLine.

    I am a huge fan of Evernote. As you said, it is truly fabulous for capturing ideas for later retrieval (but you have to be sure to use logical tags or you’ll never find things).

  6. Focus is my biggest issue when I’m writing. I can’t wait to try out the pomodoro technique. Most of the time I get all of my work done in a 25-45 minute block anyway.

  7. Great post Greg. Well written and thorough content. I fall in the category of “easily distracted”. Even right now I need to be writing and submitting some content. I am glad I stumbled upon your post. I am going to use all the apps you have recommended.

  8. Two words: Scrivener.

    I dunno. Maybe that’s more than two words.

    Now available in Mac, Windows and Linux flavors.

    Literatureandlatte.com

    It will keep you organized and store research (like Evernote) and will go into full screen mode to clear away the clutter.

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