So, you finally found time to write and suddenly you can’t think of a single thing to say. Welcome to writer’s block, dear reader. Don’t be alarmed, you’re in very good company. This is way more common than you likely give it credit.

Once you have free time, it can be hard for any writer to work out where to begin. Be it fiction, blogging, or advertising, sometimes the words just don’t come. Here are a few tips to help you get past that initial block.

Don’t Force It

Sometimes you may be tired or just coming up with nothing to say. Do not force yourself to continue. This is an amateur mistake. The truth is creative writing can only come when you are feeling creative. If you’re exhausted or distracted, you’ll only face frustration.

If you’re tired, rest. This isn’t a matter of coddling yourself. Writing is a mental exercise and if you’re tired you won’t do it well. So, allow yourself a bit of rest. You will be far more efficient after a good night’s sleep.

Likewise, if you’re distracted, take care of what you need to. Now, sometimes these are mundane issues like paying the bills or making a call. Whatever it is that is distracting you, tend to it and make it go away.

On the other hand, sometimes those distractions are external. Perhaps the kids are driving you mad or your significant other keeps interrupting to talk to you. In this case, you will need to establish some writing discipline.

Firstly, let those around you know when you are writing so they can work on not interrupting you. Moreover, make sure you have a quiet place to concentrate and write. No one writes their best when distracted. You need the opportunity to solely focus on your work.

If the family keeps distracting you, have a meeting and lay down some ground rules for when you’re working. The family will take it better upfront if you make it clear to them when you’re working and when it is okay to interrupt.

Look for Inspiration

Once you have a quiet place to work, focus on what it is you want to accomplish. If you write fiction, focus on your story. If you’re writing blogs or articles, focus on the news or what interests you. If you’re a copywriter, start going through the process of investigating the demographic for your piece.

Regardless of the style of writing, research is key to being able to write and unleash your potential. If you find yourself still drawing a blank, then look to authors you respect for inspiration. For fiction, this may be obvious. For articles, you may have to look to news people you respect. If you’re working on copywriting, you should be reviewing your favorite advertisements and thinking about what makes them so effective so you can emulate it.

Set Aside Work Time

The biggest problem most people have with writing is setting aside a specific time to do it. It is easy to fall into the rut that you’re pursuing a hobby. When you do, you’ll start looking for free time to pursue it. This is not the way to write effectively.

You need to think of your writing as a job. As such, set aside time for it to exclusively write. Once you start honing the discipline of setting a schedule, you’ll find that the writing comes easier and you’ll start to drown out the natural distractions.

 Set a standard amount of writing you expect of yourself, whether it is 1,000 words or 10 pages, and make sure you reach your pre-set benchmarks. Remember, the key to maximizing your writing time is to self-discipline when you write, make sure you are distraction-free, and use pre-set goals.