This blog is guest authored by a full-time writer at Express Writers, Alyssa.
As a copywriter, I wheel and deal with words.
Every word I write is worth something: money in the bank, bills paid on time, food in my fridge.
Needless to say, when your words are your currency, you have to be able to produce.
Unfortunately, it’s not always that simple. There are all kinds of scenarios that threaten my writing.
Sometimes my dog sits at the foot of my chair and stares up at me for minutes at a time. Her eyes get big and sad.
Eventually, she sits up on her hind legs and reaches out one little paw, giving me a gentle pat on the leg. “Hey, remember me?” she seems to say. “I depend on you for survival.”
At this point, I can only sigh deeply and try to understand what she wants. Usually, this is her not-so-subtle way of asking for a bathroom break.
My dog is the least of my worries, though. There are other barriers to writing.
The worst of them seems beyond my control.
This anxiety-inducing state is not only dreaded, but unavoidable.
Seconds, then minutes, tick by as I sit motionless, staring at a blank page and a blinking cursor. These two portents of doom taunt me.
This is the point where I have to act, or I’ll never get out alive.
So, what’s a copywriter to do in the face of this self-created melodrama? If you’re still with me, I’ll show you my strategy.
A Copywriter’s Guide to Winning Against Writer’s Block
Writer’s block can be a copywriter’s nemesis. It doesn’t want you to write a word, and it certainly doesn’t want you to get in a groove.
Here’s how to fight back.
1. Focus – No, for Real
I know if I have writer’s block, my mind is elsewhere. If it’s the same for you, I suggest sitting back and discovering where your mind has gone (or when).
Then, yank on it and rein it in.
Put your phone away. No, don’t put it in your pocket or set it within arm’s reach. Get up, go into the next room, and literally hide it from yourself. You’ll thank me when you don’t have notifications pinging at you every 20 seconds.
Next, close every extraneous browser window/tab you have open. Just say no unless it’s essential to your process. For instance, I like to leave a tab open for an online thesaurus. It’s useful for cases of overused adjectives (“great,” “beautiful,” and “excellent” are common culprits).
Once you have eliminated distractions, center yourself. Meditate on the topic you’re writing about. If your mind wanders off again, pull it back, and be firm with yourself.
2. Do You Need Mood Music?
Once your distractions are gone, you may feel antsy. Sometimes, the silence amplifies writer’s block. It becomes a solid, menacing entity versus a metaphor for brain fog.
In these cases, I recommend background music.
Example (purchased from MelodyLoops):
This infographic from WebpageFX gives you an idea why:
I’m talking about the kind of music that gets your brain quietly but steadily moving, like a running brook. You don’t want waterfalls – unless you prefer that mind environment. If that’s you, by all means.
For me, a quiet, steady, musical movement equals production in an equal measure. Like the music, the words drop at a constant beat and keep coming. It’s not just like a brook, it’s like a faucet turned on to a continual drip.
I require instrumental music. Not angry, dramatic symphonies or complicated melodies, but simple arrangements. A piano, a violin. Clear notes at a moderate pace.
For you, this might be totally wrong. I recommend searching your favorite music app until you land on something that sets your perfect writing mood.
If this sounds incredibly fussy, believe me, I know. However, if your currency is words, you’ll understand.
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3. Light the Wick
Here’s another scenario: What if you don’t need music? What if you only need ideas?
Chances are, if you’re a copywriter, you had a topic handed to you. Whether you find it inspiring, the client needs 1,500 words expounding on it.
If you look at the topic and feel dead inside, you probably need a therapist. If you look at it and feel blah, you need to light the wick.
Strike the match. Start by skimming everything you can find on the web about that subject. Read every article, blog, and website you can with the time you have. If applicable, look at pictures, too. Get inside the topic and swim around.
Reading is one the best ways, I find, to get inspired and find your footing. Once you have a better idea of where you are, you can discover an angle to explore.
If you can, make that angle as interesting to you as possible. Not only will it be more fun to write, that interest will bleed into your tone.
Let’s face it: We all know when a writer is bored to death. To combat that bored tone from boring your readers, get in there and find the interesting side.
Comic by Grant Snider
4. Resort to the Dying Arts
So, what if silence isn’t bothering you? What if distractions aren’t an issue? What if you have ideas, but the writer’s block is still there?
If you’re blank, you need my last-resort strategy. It requires three steps:
- Get out a notebook.
- Grab your favorite pen.
- Write – in cursive.
I’m not talking about the modern scrawl you use to sign checks and jot grocery lists. I’m talking about formal, cursive handwriting.
Yes, the type they don’t want to teach in schools anymore. The kind you practiced during painstaking sessions of loops and swirls in second grade. That one.
When all else fails, this causes my brain to light up in a new way. I start thinking differently than when I’m typing. Sometimes, I’ll even jot down a whole introduction to my article in cursive. Then I switch back to the keyboard to keep going.
It works like a charm. Try it out and see what happens.
The Number One Writer’s Block Tip? Just Do It
When all the tricks and cursive writing in the world don’t help, there’s one last-ditch cure left.
Just do it.
Nike trademarked this phrase for a reason. It’s motivating.
Sit down and do it. Don’t overthink it. Just write.
Image via QuoteHD
Meanwhile, writer’s block has retreated to a dark corner. It’s rubbing its hands together and whispering, “Until we meet again…”
You’re not worried, though.
You’ll be ready.
Is writer’s block plaguing your content efforts? Express Writers has a team of pro writers that consistently block crushers. Let us help.