33.3 ways to beat writer’s block

Let me introduce you to someone.

It’s the guy in the featured picture. His name is Eugene Schwartz – I don’t know if you’ve heard of him? I’ll be honest, I hadn’t until fairly recently.

Why should I write about him? Because he had an interesting theory on maximising productivity and beating writer’s block. Reason enough, right?

He made an absolute mint as a copywriter. He also wrote several books that you might want to check out if you’re interested in advertising and copywriting – mostly published in the 1950s and 60s.

He only wrote for (roughly) 3 hours, 5 days a week. Not a lot, is it? I mean you’d think a professional writer would be pulling in 12 hour days, seven days a week – wouldn’t you?

He measured out the exact time in which he could be creative for (without being distracted) and set an alarm.

The time would be 33 minutes and 33 seconds.

During this time he wrote. He made himself write, working in intense spurts where his thoughts were only on the blank page in front. Kind of like high intensity training, where you work out at a really difficult level for a short amount of time, before slowing it down.

Schwartz was strict on himself during that time and, unless a flying saucer or something landed outside, he wouldn’t leave the chair. He’d keep his focus.

Once that alarm went he’d stop whatever he was doing, even if he was half-way through, and go procrastinate for 15 minutes or so.

Then he’d go through the same process again.

His success speaks for itself. To use an old English phrase; ‘the bloke wasn’t short of a bob or two’.

It makes sense though. If you were a runner you wouldn’t run for ten hours straight, with just a short lunch break, would you? Creativity can be just as exhausting, albeit mentally, so maybe Schwartz’s method is the key to being productive?

Plus, I often wonder if forcing yourself to write for too long can inadvertently lead to writer’s block.

Here’s his most famous book, in case you’re interested.

(image credit: wikipedia)

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