Want to make a journalist laugh? Ask them about writer’s block.
We bet our entire net worth that they’ll chuckle and say, “The moment I get writer’s block, I’m fired.” And it’s true: journalists don’t have the luxury of suffering from writer’s block.
But for the rest of us, it can be a very real problem.
If you want to grow your business with kickass content, or increase your sales through persuasive copy, writer’s block will straight-up give you nightmares.
We hear it all the time…
“I’m not a writer! Any time I sit down to create content, I end up writing like 5 sentences in an hour! How do you even do this?”
So today, let’s look at 3 very simple and immediately actionable strategies to overcome writer’s block and teach yourself to produce great content on demand – even when you don’t feel like it.
1. No idea? How about 5?
In our experience, the #1 mistake you can make when sitting down to write content is starting with a broad topic.
Worst part? It seems like it makes sense. Let’s say you run an accounting practice, so you decide to create content around finances (*snooze*).
Great! What exactly about finances do you want to write about?
And that’s where most people are left with nothing but crickets in their head. You see, that topic is so massive they haven’t got a clue how to proceed!
What to do instead: take that massive topic and break it down into several smaller ones.
These could be based on your experience in the business, stories you’ve heard, misconceptions that bug you etc. Then, look for ways to present them as teachable, actionable pieces of content.
For example, let’s look at the topic of finances that we already mentioned. Here’s how you might break it down:
Topic #1. A client of mine once missed out on a $3,500 tax return because of one tiny mistake in their paperwork. Here’s what happened…
Topic #2. I often get asked if accountants themselves are struggling with taxes. And you might be surprised, but sometimes they do – here’s why…
Topic #3. Based on my experience, these are the top 10 mistakes business owners make when doing their taxes…
(Note: we’re spitballing here, because we know very little about accounting – but hopefully it helps)
You get the idea. Bottom line is, always break it down. When you start with a huge topic, you’re practically asking for a severe bout of “blank page syndrome”.
2. Leave yourself a trail of ‘breadcrumbs’
Let’s say you banged out half of what promises to be an amazing blog post, or a high-converting sales page. Great job!
Trouble is, you don’t feel it in you to finish it and edit the whole thing right this second.
What most people do is stop writing and come back later.
Sometimes they finish it no problem… other times it’s like pulling teeth.
What to do instead: before you step away from the content, give yourself 2-3 cues about what to write next.
These could be snippets of sentences, quotes, even a string of words: anything that gives you a rough idea of what will go into the content next.
Besides helping you gain momentum next time you sit down to write, these written cues have an added benefit that comes into play – and we’ll get to it in hack #3…
3. Take a break and let your brain work at it
Fun fact: Albert Einstein, one of the smartest people ever, worked as a paper-pushing patent clerk in Switzerland – and he did it for quite a few years!
Yet his boring and repetitive job didn’t prevent Einstein from coming up with the theory of relativity – it actually helped him!
You might ask, “What does this have to do with curing writer’s block?” Everything!
When you are trying to write something very difficult, like sales copy, or a super-helpful blog post, the temptation to just sit there and force yourself to eek out words one at a time is huge.
But it’s actually counter-productive! Here’s why…
What to do instead: when you feel like your head will burst open before you write another word, take a break.
Go for a walk, go to the gym, or grab a coffee, or do the dishes – do anything other than writing.
You may not realize it, but your brain will continue working on the problem even as you’re sipping on a venti latte or feed pigeons in the park.
And it works! There’s nothing woo woo about it – it’s all science.
Einstein took breaks from his intense intellectual labors by working at a desk, quite literally shuffling papers around. As a result, he came up with one of the most important scientific theories of all time.
If he managed to do that, surely you can write a sales page!
4. Rig the game in your favor – baby steps (bonus)
Finally, we want to wrap up with perhaps *the* most important hack of all… which isn’t technically a “hack”.
If you’re not a runner, would you expect to complete a 5K run the first time you try it? Of course not, that would be insane!
Then why do so many people assume they can sit down and write several pages of perfectly usable copy or content if they don’t write often?
Here’s the best, most effective cure for writer’s block: slow waaay down.
Make it easy on yourself. Set a tiny goal to work towards every day – say, 100 words, or 250 words, or 500 words. And make sure you reach it every day.
Still hard? How about one sentence a day? PhD thesis and bestselling books have been written that way! This practice is known as kaizen, and it is life-changing.
It’s better to write something consistently; it sure beats banging out 2,000 words one day, then going dry for 2 weeks!
Once you have a habit of writing, you’ll forget about writer’s block. Then your business will never lack for kickass content or magnetic copy. Godspeed!