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Writer's Block Does Not Exist For Nonfiction Books

Writer's block doesn't exist. It's a myth like unicorns and monsters under the bed. It's this big mythical and often frightening thing we've blown up in our head to scare us into inaction. And it works!

I was plagued with this pseudo-illness a few years back. It started with a few phantom symptoms: staring at a blank screen, being easily distracted, and increased "thinking" time. Eventually, it grew into a full-blown problem where I missed days … weeks … and then months' worth of writing. The longer I remained blocked, the more the illness progressed.

One day I mentioned this to a colleague, and she asked me about my current writing project. I started to describe my book, and she said, "That's great. You're writing a book about what you teach people for a living. That's great that you're finally getting your expertise out there."

Light bulb moment.

I am writing a book where I am the expert. This is what I talk about all day long. This is my zone of genius.

While I firmly believe in writer's block when it comes to writing fiction. It has no place for someone writing a book where they share their message or expertise with their reader. Because if you don't know your stuff, who does?

So, let's reframe this issue so that we can solve it.

#1 Writer's block is just a mindset.

Here's the dictionary definition. Mindset: an attitude or a mood.

It's like having a good vs. bad mood. Certain things can influence our mood, but we certainly have control over how we process it. Instead of using the term writer's block to describe your situation, change it to: what should I say next?

This is great because now we have a solvable problem, and we can brainstorm for answers. If you've done your pre-work or have a start on your manuscript, then you probably have some ideas for each of your chapters. The great thing about nonfiction is you can write out of order. Here are a few things I do when I get stuck to keep my writing project moving forward:

  • Jump to another section of my manuscript, where I know what to say.
  • Start writing the stories or case studies I'm using in each of my chapters.
  • Create the exercises for my chapter summaries.
  • Find quotes to use at the beginning of each chapter.
  • Write my book's dedication or acknowledgment page.
  • Conduct the research I need for my book.
  • Use thought-leadership prompts to unlock the ideas in my head.

#2 Use Writing Prompts

A few years back, I went on an online search for writing prompts to use with my coaching clients. Nothing I found entirely worked with the types of books they write. I needed prompts for speakers, coaches, entrepreneurs, leaders, and change-makers who are writing high-impact books by sharing a message with their readers.

Without realizing it, I created my prompts based on the comments I leave in the margins of a shared Google doc we use during the coaching process. I decided to bundle these up into a 10-prompt cheat sheet to share with my readers. All you have to do is click here and download the writing prompt guide. These are the type of questions a coach asks when you feel stuck writing your book.

One of the most frustrating feelings in the world is to be hyped about a project, schedule the time to do it, and then get stuck in the execution. I hope this guide helps you unleash your amazing ideas and gets rid of the scary monster hiding beneath your bed. The unicorn you might want to keep.