Becoming a working writer sounds like a dream job. Of course there are hardships when it comes to hustling for work, but on the whole, you get to be your own boss, set a flexible schedule, take as much or as little work as you want, and plan vacations at your leisure. The real problem when it comes to writing for money (or even just writing for fun in your spare time) is an occurrence that has afflicted anyone who has spent much time staring at a blank screen and waiting for inspiration to strike: the dreaded writer’s block. However, you probably don’t realize that the majority of the problem is in the setup, rather than in your head. It’s not that something is necessarily wrong with you, but rather with the space in which you have chosen to attempt your task. For that reason, there are a few preemptive tactics you can employ in an effort to curb writer’s block and ensure that your endeavor goes smoothly.
The first thing you should do is create a space that is free of external distractions. This is easier said than done. Even a piece of paper out of place could prove attention-grabbing, especially when your mind is undisciplined and prone to wandering. Until you can get yourself on a schedule and learn to control your focus, you need to rid your writing room of anything that will aid in procrastination. To that end: start by removing unnecessary electronics. Televisions, radios, even clocks should be taken out of the room so that you’re not tempted to use them as a distraction. Ditto on entertainment items like books (unrelated to your writing), periodicals, loud artwork, and toys of any sort.
You should also avoid anything too comfortable, such as a daybed, couch, or overstuffed chair. It’s easier than you might think to drift off to dreamland for a little nap when you hit midday and you’re tired of working. Breaks are fine, but you should use them to stretch, grab a snack, and re-energize rather than settle in for a siesta. Think of it this way: if you were at a regular job, what would you be allowed to do? By treating your writing this way, you will have an easier go of getting into the habit of writing, leading to less time wasted on distractions and, believe it or not, less time lost to writer’s block, as well.
Additionally, you’ll want to ensure that your space is quiet. Children running through the house screaming, pets whining and scratching at the door, and gardeners revving machines will drive you nuts and have you losing your train of thought left and right. So lock the door and get yourself some noise-canceling headphones and a collection of soothing music (light classical or atmospheric instrumentals are both good options since they generally employ no vocals).
Now that you’ve created a totally Zen space in which to ply your trade it is your job to keep it in good working order (so your mind can follow suit). Be sure your writing room is clean and tidy. Don’t let the piles of paperwork or swirling dust-bunnies get too thick or you’ll find that your brain becomes just as cluttered. Creating a space that is conducive to writing is just as important as acquiring the equipment and skills needed to actually write. So once you’ve got a usable space, you’ll want to keep it up so that you have every opportunity to avoid writer’s block.