We’ve all been there. Staring at the screen, waiting for incredible ideas to pour fourth. Nothing happens.
What to do? Check email to block spammers, reply to a friend, click into links… 30 mins on, another try. Nothing happens.
Ah, Twitter. What’s the latest? A flick through or quick chat later, and the blank page remains. It toys with us, laughs at us…
Then stress creeps in. You’ve minutes left before X,Y,Z happens. Yet you’re still busy with A!
And, of course, don’t forget real life sabotage. Office/outside noise, worries, illness, the school run. Endless traps to throw you off course.
If you’re a seasoned writer like me who writes for a living, writer’s block is frustrating. Copy deadlines loom, clients to keep happy, bills to pay. No time for writer’s block…
Where do you start? How do you get those whirling ideas onto paper/screen without stress?
Three practical ideas to knock writer’s block on the head
1. Get in the mood
If you run a business from home, set boundaries. Pointless trying to write if the dog needs a pee, your friends/family call round on the off chance, or you can’t resist cooking/washing/housework now that everyone is out.
- Separate home from work by shutting the office door, and focusing on your to-do list. Next, work out the best time slots for you.
- Look at your schedule. When are you free to write without other demands throwing a spanner in the works? Work out a plan, trial it for a week. If it works, stick to it. If not, change it.
- With your schedule sorted, now plan for interruptions. If you can only write in silence (like me), cut out noise with earplugs and Ear Defenders. Really… Nothing is worse than strimmers and traffic noise invading your headspace.
2. Focus, focus, focus
Having wiped out all outside distractions (In a positive rather than Armageddon kind of way…), your own office has plenty lying in wait. First up, the humble smartphone. Who can resist taking a peek?!
Before you know it, your head is elsewhere while the blank screen drums its fingers on the desk. Again…
Here are some (tried and tested…!) suggestions on how to focus better:
- Resist checking Facebook, Twitter and email. Turn your phone off. Just keep browser tabs open that you need. Don’t berate yourself if your mind wanders… You’re human after all.
- Try the Pomodoro Technique. Or tomato timer. Short, intense, focused writing for 25 minutes without distraction is more productive than sitting for hours on end getting nowhere. Key rules: drink coffee/choice of beverage, stare into space and write. That’s it.
- If inspiration fails to strike, don’t sit there hoping for miracles. Do something else away from the desk. A walk in fresh air round the block can cure your writing woes in minutes. Come back to your desk with a fresher perspective having detoxed your mind.
3. Change perspective
One of the biggest barriers to getting started is knowing what to write.
Especially a problem if you run your own business – and you’re not trained to write copy. It can take weeks, and – yes – even months to write something half decent.
In this scenario, too many biz owners resort to either emulating their competitors, or writing about themselves.
Business-centric copy might fill space on a page. But it won’t fill a prospect’s head with desire to get in touch/buy.
To achieve a better response, change your perspective – from you to your audience. Try these gems:
- List your ideal customer’s problems. How do you solve them?
- Imagine a customer in front of you right now. Speak to them about your product/service. What can it do for them?
- Replace ‘we’ phrases with ‘you.’
- Write with integrity with a natural tone of voice. Test this by reading copy out loud. If you cringe to yourself or it doesn’t flow smoothly, you’ll know it isn’t right.
- If all else fails, ask a trusty copywriter to do it for you in half the time…
Over to you
What has worked for you?