Academic Writers Studio logo with lotus and ink pen

On blocks and blogs.

Writer’s block: the struggle is real. You might have it and blame it on something else, like depression, ADD, or any of the “ordinary” mental-health stuff that all of us seem to have at least one of—or something even more ordinary, like garden-variety distractibility or busyness. But writer’s block isn’t just for aspiring novelists or that guy John Goodman played in Barton Fink. Nope. It’s for you and me.

Common wisdom suggests lowering the writing bar and changing up the genre to make it feel more everyday, for example by journaling, writing an email to a friend or explaining what you want to say out loud to yourself and then transcribing it. But one of the most effective ways to get yourself writing is by writing (real or fake) blog posts.

To start writing blog posts, take one of two approaches:

First, you can create a blogging account. Blogger.com (owned by Google) and WordPress.com are by far the most commonly used; both are free and have app versions, too. You can get started within about 5 minutes, and you don’t have to make it public or ever share it with anyone at all.

Alternatively, you can use whatever app you enjoy typing in (we love Scrivener for more project-ish writing and Journey for more journal-ish writing) and just pretend that you’re writing a blog entry.

Either way, here’s what works about writing blog posts:

  • They’re short and manageable, and therefore not intimidating (someone suggested we keep entries under 400 words)
  • On the other hand, if you have a thought and it keeps going, it’s fine if you write a long post (someone else suggested we make entries 2,500–3,000 words). Or you can write the long version and then split it into parts. Or just move the whole thing over to your manuscript 😉
  • They invite a conversational tone, but they also keep you more or less on topic, so you’re more likely to end up saying things in a way that’s actually usable for your manuscript!
  • Even on a blogging site, you don’t have to publish them right away or ever.
  • … and you can share them with everyone, no one, or one or a group of select people.
  • You can even make up a whole imaginary audience. Not the judgey one, the other one.
  • If you suddenly become famous and need a platform, you’ll already have some blog entries ready to go.

One of the paths to getting rid of writer’s block is play. The blog format’s combination of structure and flexibility offer a space to make that happen.