15 top tips to beat writer's block
“How do you beat writer’s block?”
It’s a question every frustrated copywriter has asked at least once in their career, though no one has a concrete answer.
We’ve had a think and come up with our top 15 tips to beat writer’s block. So, next time you’re lost for words, you can fix it quickly and get back into the groove.
Take a look:
What is writer’s block?
At certain parts of the day (usually 4pm on a Friday, or an hour before a deadline), all those special words and phrases whizz out of your head and your mind goes blank. This is writer’s block.
Sadly for us copywriters, deadlines (and our bosses) don’t care if you’re struck by this particular ailment, so you need to find a way to break through and beat writer’s block for good.
Top 15 tips to beat writer’s block:
Use these tips for inspiration and let those creative juices flow once more.
Before you start writing:
Writer’s block can hit way before you actually start writing, so try these tips to make sure you’re in the right mindset from the get-go.
- Create a schedule
Having a timetable written down in front of you can really push you to get your act together. You quickly realise how little time you really have so knuckle down and work harder.
Make sure the timings are realistic – no matter how good you are, it’s going to take more than 15 minutes to create a 500-word blog piece!
Allow time to manage distractions, such as emails pinging in. Deal with these in batches so you can concentrate on writing.
At the end of your day, write down the next day’s plan and you’ll be ready for another day without writer’s block!
- Chop up the process
When creating your schedule, chop up each piece into tiny bite-size pieces and spread them out. Don’t do everything in one big batch! Here are just a few sections you could split one piece into:
You could break it up even further by focusing on the individual sections of your piece – this works really well for long-form pieces such as white papers and guides. This way, you won’t get bored of your subject and you’ll be sure of the direction it’s heading in.
- Think ‘want to’ not ‘have to’
Remember when your mum used to say you ‘had to’ do the washing up and it made you want to do everything but that? It’s the same with copywriting.
Thinking you have to do something breeds resistance, so try to avoid that throughout your creative process.
Find something that excites you about the piece (a fact, stat or angle) and think to yourself “I want to write about that”.
- Let your mind wander (a little bit)
Think around your subject. Find new perspectives and gain fresh insights by just letting your mind wander. But reign it back in pretty sharpish or you’ll find that your writing goes off on a tangent and isn’t as valuable to the reader.
When you write
So, you’ve got an awesome plan and schedule, but are still stuck? Not to worry. Try these:
- Have a break
We know that this isn’t always possible with huge deadlines breathing down your neck. However, if you can take five minutes away from your screen, you’ll definitely feel the benefits.
Go make a cuppa, walk around the office for a bit or even go outside for some fresh air.
If you really can’t drag yourself away from your desk, turn your screen off for a few minutes, open the window and do some of that mind-wandering we mentioned in Tip 4.
Jot down any ideas you have about the piece. Even the bad ones.
Just blurt your ideas out onto a piece of paper (or screen) and see where that takes you.
Then review it, take out the not-so-good bits and you’ll have a decent basis for your text.
- Just write
This may seem impossible if you have writer’s block, but just start writing.
It doesn’t have to make sense or relate to your topic, and it certainly doesn’t have to be perfect. Get into the writing groove by spending five minutes writing weird and silly stuff.
Here are a few sentence starters in case you’re really stuck:
- The cat sat on the mat because…
- Jonny went to the store because …
- “The robots are taking over” she cried, “what are we going to do?” …
You can make up your own sentence starters too. Just be warned, don’t spend hours writing nonsense stories about robot invasions (even though that sounds awesome), you have a deadline to stick to!
Yes, you may feel like you’re back in primary school, but this simple task will unleash the creativity that writer’s block has plugged.
Why not try ‘stream of consciousness writing’ while you’re at it? Just write everything that pops into your head. This forces your brain into ‘create new ideas’ mode, which will help you when you go back to your original work.
- Don’t spiral
Sometimes, copywriters can be their own worst enemy.
We’ve heard plenty of people refuse to write until they’re ‘inspired’ – bleurgh! To be honest, this probably won’t happen and you’ll end up rushing to complete the piece minutes before the deadline.
Don’t wallow, procrastinate or make excuses – buck your ideas up and think about how to improve things rather than fixating on things going wrong.
However, letting your frustration out in one way or another can really help you get back on track. Muttering a few curse words under your breath might just release your pent-up energy and let you get back to writing those top-notch pieces.
- Talk to someone
Talking to someone about your project is a great way to get things moving. Your colleagues might have a good idea for an angle or say one little phrase that sparks a thousand ideas, so give them your ‘pitch’ and see what comes back!
- No one around? Make someone up!
Sometimes no one is about to help you, so you may have to make someone up.
This new imaginary friend should love your writing and support you, but also be honest and a teeny bit critical.
Instead of thinking of writing a blog/article, start a conversation with your friend about the subject and write it down as you go. This way, you’ll cover the questions most people would ask, how you’d answer them and have a great springboard for your next post.
- Use a different writing tool
Are you using Microsoft Word? Try using Google Docs. Using that already? Next up is Notepad (just remember to move it back into Word for spell checking and formatting!)
By changing things up and using a different tool, your brain will approach this task in a new way that will (hopefully) allow you to be more creative. Hey presto – no more writer’s block!
You could also try switching fonts, text colour or size to really pep up your piece and give you the energy to carry on.
Why not go old school? Shut down your computer and use a pen and paper for a while. Grab some highlighters to make it more fun!
- Forget about perfection
We’re the first to say that grammar, spelling, punctuation etc. are important, but not for a first draft.
Beat writer’s block by getting the bulk of your piece down on paper without worrying about all that stuff, then go back and start tweaking.
You will not get a perfect piece first time around. Accept that it will probably take a few goes to get that great draft, and you’ll loosen up and be able to write much more creative content.
- Start in the middle
Most people have trouble starting a piece. To beat writer’s block, you should really start in the middle and go back to the introduction afterwards.
That way you’ll know the direction of the piece and be able to create a clear and enticing introduction that really relates to the content you’ve already written.
Then, you can write a killer conclusion that answers your readers’ questions and inspires them to look further through your site.
- Look for inspiration
Inspiration comes from many places. For the perfect antidote to writer’s block, turn to:
- Your audience – Look at personas, customer feedback, social media posts and all that jazz to see what questions your real-life audience want answering through your writing.
- Other blog posts – Chances are, someone has already written about your subject. Look to their work and see which bits you could use in yours (without being a copycat).
- Previous pieces – It’s always nice to relive the glory days, and looking back at older pieces may kick-start something in your brain. You might also find a good piece to link to.
- Statistics – Find a great stat that ties into your piece’s core aim and sprout ideas off it.
So, that’s it. 15 ways for you to beat writer’s block and deliver high-quality content time and time again.
We hope it helped!