We’ve all been there. Staring at a blank Microsoft Word or Google Doc sheet that’s staring right back at you. A blinking insertion point is the only movement on your computer screen; the visual equivalent of the ‘tick tock’ from an antique school clock on the wall of a quiet classroom. You can see the words and sentences you need to type swirling around in your head, but your fingers remain dormant, hovering above the keyboard in apprehensive anticipation. Then the thought enters your brain: ‘What if I’m like this forever?’
Writer’s block is a timeless tradition writers of all areas of expertise experience, typically when impending deadlines hang over their head. But for copywriters, minutes, hours, or days of writer’s block can prove to be a crippling side effect for a job that requires a constant churning out of words. It’s important to not only know what tips and exercises can help you snap out of a bad case of writer’s block, but to also understand what elements of your daily life and routine could be contributing to this haunting syndrome. If you’re finding yourself staring into the glowing abyss of a blank document too often, here are eight tips to help you fight writer’s block, and regain your typing stride in no time:
1) Ask Yourself ‘Why?’
Sometimes curing a case of writer’s block requires nothing more than just a little self-maintenance. For starters, note the time of day you experience writer’s block most often. If mornings are your writing achilles heel, ask yourself whether a lack of breakfast or sleep could be a contributing factor. If it’s late in the afternoon or toward the end of the day that you’re struggling to summon words, think about how long you’ve been sitting at your desk and whether a quick change of pace or scenery could snap you out of your malaise. Writer’s block generally stems from either stress or fatigue, which is why retracing your steps on your daily habits can reveal any bad habits that could be hindering your productivity. Sometimes all it really takes is putting on some headphones and taking a quick walk around the block, or remembering to take a healthy snack break, to break the spell of writer’s block.
2) Go Back To Basics
Maybe you don’t attribute your writer’s block to being distracted, or stressed, or fatigued. Perhaps you’ve had a big breakfast, gotten plenty of sleep, even went for a walk, but you’re still drawing creative blanks. You can’t force writing out of you, so it’s important to consider going back to the drawing board and get as minimal as possible to try and summon inspiration. Step aside from the computer and take out a notebook and pen. Write the subject of whatever you’re attempting to write at the top of the page, and begin to write down anything that springs to mind when you think of that subject, be it a word, phrase; literally anything. Unrestrictive, free-forming brainstorming can be an effective remedy to finding a path to writing enlightenment.
3) Pivot Away The Problem
Writer’s block isn’t necessarily one big general problem. It can be attributed to a wide variety of factors included in the writing process, such as coming up with ideas, crafting an introduction, adhering to a tone or voice, or resorting to generic verbalization. Whatever problem you’re experiencing, usually it’s best to save that one for last rather than wasting time failing to address it. If you can’t come up with a witty or intriguing introductory paragraph, skip it, and dive straight into the meatiness of whatever you’re writing. Struggling with synonyms? Continue to write using the same or similar verbiage until you’re finished, then you can look back and pick out what words or phrases need a tune up. More often than not, if you’re able to write everything aside from the specific issue that’s troubling you, getting the wheels of your brain in motion will make those problems easier to circle back to.
4) Make It Personal
Quality copywriting occurs when a writer is able to surround and stuff the content they’re producing with a unique and personal voice. Writer’s block is an easy symptom to experience when it feels like you’ve detached yourself completely from the work you’re writing. This is where it’s important to always remember to insert yourself into your copywriting work as much as possible, without interrupting the tone or content that is expected from you. Approach the subject from your perspective, not your target audience. What personal experiences do you have with the subject matter or product you’re writing about? Recall specific memories, and try to conceive how you can relate them to your article. Or you can approach it by thinking about yourself as a potential reader of the content you’re writing. What would you want to read about when it comes to whatever topic you’re trying to approach? What kind of vernacular would intrigue you personally to read beyond an introductory paragraph? Generally speaking, the less ‘you’ in copywriting, the less you’ll be inspired to write.
5) Get Physical
The relationship between cognitive and physical health is entirely co-dependent. There are nearly infinite amounts of scientific studies that have been conducted that link creativity (or lack thereof) to the amount of physical activity you’re experiencing. To put it simply, if you’re in dire need of an injection of creativity, more often than not, physical activity will enhance your cognitive capabilities. This can mean whatever you’re capable or comfortable with! Whether it’s going for a quick jog, riding the bike to and from work, or lifting some dumbbells in between projects, a little physical activity can go a long way in terms of helping relieve you of writer’s block.
6) Be Social
One of the primary emotions associated with writer’s block is feeling trapped inside of yourself and entirely consumed by your own thoughts. Being too inside your own head can construct an easy path toward heightened self-criticism, or being generally pessimistic about your own writing. Sometimes just talking to someone, whether a coworker who’s familiar with the struggle or just a friend who’s great at distractionary conversation, can allow you to escape the confines of your own negativity. In fact, studies have shown that socialization in general is known to enhance organized creativity. So if you’re feeling swallowed by self pity or drowning in dejection, give talking to someone, anyone, a try.
7) Take A Break
It’s inevitable that you’ll experience days where writer’s block is simply unconquerable. When those days occur, sometimes waving a white flag is not just all you can do, but is the action necessary to relieve and detach yourself from the stress you’re experiencing from your writer’s block. When you’ve exhausted all options, take a break! Open a book, draw some doodles, watch a movie, listen to music, cook some food, go for a walk; do anything that relaxes you and therapeutically distracts you from whatever strenuous project you’re trying to complete. When your mental state has improved, that’s when you’ll be ready to take another crack at it!
8) Write Anything
You can’t ride a bike without pedaling and you can’t write a story without typing. Even if you can’t even type out what your favorite color is, the sheer motion of your fingers pounding the keyboard can sometimes be all it takes to sync up your wandering mind with your hands. Writing something that has absolutely nothing to do with whatever topic you’re trying to tackle is better than not writing anything at all. Write about your day so far. Write about the worst date you’ve ever experienced, or why you fermentedly believe that Aerosmith is the greatest rock band to have ever existed. Not only will these exercises help you regain the process and tempo of tying and writing, but it will help you summon your voice and personality that whatever project you’re blanking on is desperately in need of.