With a copy deadline looming, there can be few things more daunting than a blank page.
You watch your cursor blink on and off, on and off and start to feel as if it is taunting you. You stare out of the window for inspiration – to no avail. How can you ever get past this most frustrating block?
The good news is that you are not alone.
Writer’s block happens to everyone and increasingly so in today’s business world where we are all expected to produce high quality content on a regular basis – whether that be for blogs, article marketing or news releases.
So, how can you beat writer’s block?
Well, in this post, I’d like to suggest five key tips that I have found useful. I have been a writer since forever - working for magazines, books, newsletters, online publications and newswires. There have been times when I have been totally and utterly frustrated - sitting at my desk waiting for inspiration to come.
The truth is that inspiration comes from deep in a rather illusive part of your brain and it doesn't like to be rushed - it will come when it wants thank you very much. Indeed, I have lost count of the number of occasions when I have struggled with writer's block only to find inspiration at the most inconvenient of times. Walking my dogs one minute, scrabbling to note down article ideas the next! It is why I carry a notepad about my person at all times!
The tips listed below have all been tried and tested by me and they work. Good luck!
Take A Break
You know when you are trying so hard to think of a name and yet that name completely eludes you? Isn’t it funny how the answer can then suddenly pop to the front of your mind when you least expect it (typically in the middle of the night!)?
Well, the same applies when you start to struggle with an idea for an article or blog post.
The more you think about it, the more you draw a blank and the more frustrated you get. The best thing to do when this happens is take a break. Let your mind process things while you do something else. Before long, the answer will come.
I find that taking a break is a good idea even if you are not struggling with writer's block. I slot some time into my writing schedule after the research and planning phase. While I am busy on other tasks, I find that my brain sorts all my ideas and comes up with far better article points than if I had made myself plough straight through. It is always good to give your brain some space!
If you can’t think what to write or know what you want to convey but can’t work out how best to get it down on paper, you could try a brainstorming technique.
Get a blank sheet of paper and just write down all of the things that you think are relevant to your topic. There doesn’t have to be any order to this, just spill all of your ideas onto the page.
I also like to create a spider diagram with my article topic in the middle and all my potential points spreading out around that center. These diagrams are also so useful to me later on as I can incorporate some of the points into my article structure.
You may well discard much of what you note down but that is fine. Don’t put yourself under pressure. A good brainstorming session can often be all you need to get the inspiration necessary to break that block.
If you start your writing process with a good basic structure, you will feel more in control and less likely to become blocked. Think of your article as having five key parts:
Now you have the bones of your article, you can start to flesh them out with what you want to say. As I mentioned above, you can use your brainstorming session to attribute key points to these five areas. You now have a path to follow and this can give you certainty and security in the writing process.
Indeed, if you segment your article in this way, you will find that you have the freedom to write the sections out of order. For example, if you are struggling with your introduction why not focus on your argument instead? Once you have written that part of your article you may well find the clarity to go back and ace your intro.
One of the most common causes of writer’s block comes from the pressure we put upon ourselves to create good quality copy. This pressure can be quite debilitating as we can often be our own worst critic.
Maybe this is easier said than done, but try to resist the urge to pressurize your writing. Write as if you are simply chatting to an interested friend and explaining something to them. I do this all the time when I am having trouble. I picture someone from my intended audience. I make sure that this 'imaginary reader' is in a friendly and receptive mood and I write for him/her.
This can also be a good way to maintain your own voice in your writing. If you start writing in a voice that is completely out of character your imaginary reader will call you out on it.
Over all, relax and be confident – you know your stuff.
Start Now - Edit Later
The best way to beat writer’s block is to write. Just write anything even if you think it is pure drivel!
Once you have taken a break to let your brain process your ideas and thoughts and created a structure to give yourself more freedom - just make a start. As I mentioned above, you may want to start at the end or mid way through. Give yourself the option to write what feels most natural at the time.
Yes, you might end up with a very rough draft. Yes, you may need to bin most of what you type. Yes, you may ramble, stray away from the point or repeat key phrases over and over. It doesn't matter because there, in that first draft, is something you can work on, edit and revise. Your masterpiece will soon emerge!
How do you beat writer’s block? If you have some helpful tips or tricks please do share them in the comments section below.
Thank you for reading!
Take care, Jane x