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5 Tips to Conquer Editor’s Block

All your footage is loaded, you’ve reviewed the shoot notes, read the script, and you’re ready to go. But any editor will tell you that frequently, the hardest part is just getting started. It can be a challenge, but our philosophy has always been, “If you get stuck, dive in and just keep cutting.”

Sometimes the ideas don’t start flowing until you begin to see something on your timeline. But how to get out of your head and into that timeline? Every editor has their proven techniques, but here’s a few things that you can do to try to keep your momentum moving forward:

1. Minimize Distractions

First, minimize distractions. To counter the constant temptation of surfing the internet or checking those social media updates, consider internet blocking applications, like SelfControl or Freedom. Have technology work for you instead of against you.

On the left, a person browses a smartphone. To the right, the SelfControl App.
To prevent mindless surfing, use an app like SelfControl or

2. Do Something Physical

Even if it’s just taking a quick walk around your office space, try to do something physical. You might draw a few raised eyebrows when the producer walks in on you doing some pushups, but the improved results that you’re going to get will be well worth it.

A man in an office does pushups on the floor
Physical exercise can put you in a more productive mindset

3. Listen to Music

You can also try listening to music. Pick a genre that’s related to what you’re cutting, or even try a movie soundtrack. Sometimes it can provide just the inspiration that you need.

The Spotify page of the Movie Soundtrack 'Get Out'
Movie Soundtracks can be a great tool for motivation

4. Work on Mundane Tasks

When you’ve hit a creative roadblock, one of our favorite things to do is to work on mundane tasks, like organization. This way, you’re still doing tasks necessary for the project – and officially, you’re not even actually procrastinating.

A list of dialogue lines in a film, with some of them highlighted
Mundane tasks like dialogue breakdown are easy to get started with and contribute to the edit

5. Just Push Buttons!

Finally, just pushing buttons is often going to reveal solutions or inspire ideas. Back in the days of linear editing, an editor’s control room had as many buttons as airplane cockpits. It could look intimidating, but we prefer to ask, “What would a five-year-old me do?” Easy, they would start pressing those shiny buttons to see what they do.

On the left, a film editing room from history. On the right, an editor adjusts some settings in a Non-Linear Editing software
Whatever your editing setup is, just pushing buttons can reveal new solutions

You can apply that same principle in your non-linear editing software. If a picture-in-picture isn’t quite working, try swapping the sources. If a transition isn’t to your liking, see what other parameters you can add to it. Sometimes a cut doesn’t seem to flow – try changing the order of the shots or the scenes in a longer piece. Fiddling around like this won’t necessarily get you the ideal result, but it’s often going to jog your brain into solutions for creative challenges. Try to get yourself into a professional mindset.

Wrap Up

“Inspiration is for amateurs. The rest of us just show up and get to work. If you wait around for the clouds to part and a bolt of lightning to strike you in the brain, you’re not going to make an awful lot of work. All the best ideas come out of the process. They come out of the work itself.”

Chuck Close

So when you hit a creative roadblock, don’t give up! Just keep editing, and try different ways of tackling a scene, a promo, or whatever you’re editing. Eventually, you’ll do something that will inspire you and set you down the right path.

For more tutorials about creative editing in general be sure to visit our training page. There, you can sign up for hours of free sample videos and more information about our full courses.


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