It doesn’t matter if you are writing unique descriptions for 200 slightly different white shirts or creating fiction – it’s the same mental exercise in each case. Yet the funny thing is, it doesn’t feel that way in the moment.
When you are writing within strict size and topic limits, you are dreaming of having that creative freedom and artistic license to write just whatever. But the next time you are staring at page 127 of dialogue by characters who you know can go ANYWHERE from where they are right now, it downs on you – that unlimited freedom you longed for so desperately is not exactly what will finally make you any less prone to creative setbacks. Sometimes you just know what to say. Other times – you struggle to put in words the simplest ideas.
To continue our series of copywriting advice, today we are talking about writing copy when you’ve hit a mental brick wall. These are the tips we’ve come up with when facing a similar problem, so read up and, hopefully, get some use out of the list (although we are convinced you can totally do all of the below suggestions in a random order or leave some of them out completely).
1. Stop doing what you are doing
While writing newbies are more prone to writing block, even seasoned authors face similar challenges. The difference is that the latter have usually figured out a few ways out of this hole, and rookies trapped in the predicament often keep digging.
Having no idea what to write or how to even go about the topic is usually a good time to do some research, but if you’ve been combing through themed articles for hours and keep coming back to your hopelessly unfinished text, there’s no point in continuing with what you’ve been doing so far to no avail.
Even if you’ve been typing a series of somewhat coherent sentences just to beat that blank page syndrome, you’ve been going through the motions for enough time to know it’s not going to produce a meaningful result – whatever it is that you are doing, clearly, it isn’t working.
Stop the agony, do something else: read The Guardian, drink a cup of tea, cuddle with your office cat, distract your cubicle neighbor with random chit-chat, read this article;)
2. Do something that inspires you
The next possibly useful step in your battle with the writer’s block is doing something inspiring. It doesn’t have to be an ambitious project (the pressure from your main task has probably been one of the reasons for the block in the first place), just do something small and useful that you have mastery of and it is guaranteed to make you feel good about yourself.
It’s always easier to tackle obstacles when you feel competent and empowered, so doing something that inspires you – and at what, chances are, you’ll succeed, – will make you feel and think better.
Alternatively, go to Pinterest, Tumblr or Crello for visual inspiration. Switching to tasks that require a different set of skills will engage different regions of your brain, taking the neural activity there. That will extract you from the proverbial short circuit you might have trapped yourself in by concentrating so hard on the text at hand.
3. Get experimental
After you’ve found some solace in your distractions or successful completion of smaller, fun, inspiring tasks, try to get a little crazy with your first draft and go all out on experiments. This doesn’t have to be your final copy and the experiment might prove to be unfitting or over-the-top, but at least you’ll have a completed a draft!
Don’t be afraid to come off weird and totally miss the mark – at least you came up with something.
4. Think about what you hate about this
So you are stuck. You are looking at the page, you are looking at your sources, you are looking at your desk toy, your phone, you take a sip of your cold latte and are thinking about maybe reaching for that energy bar stashed in your top left drawer. You thoughts are all over the place and what you really want to do is not have to write this text right now. You just hate it.
Let me pause you there for just a moment – think about what exactly it is that you hate about your text or topic or format you need to work in? What’s the worst thing about it?
Got it? Now, list it off in a little secret file in your Random Thoughts folder, get it all out, and then create a new document. This new file is for you to write down the positives – why is the text important, how it will help somebody, what problems it could solve.
The trick here is to free up all that space your negativity toward the piece has been taking up in order to give your thoughts some space. Get the negatives out and see if you can come up with some inspiring positives!
5. Decide who you are talking to
One of the biggest problems writers face is losing sight of who they are writing for. Addressing specific audience is a crucial part of writing well – you need to have common points that both you and your audience can relate to in order to build rapport and actually have a conversation, which any good writing always is.
Determine who you are writing for and you solve a plethora of issues in an instant – you now know their general persona, style of conversation, general topics of interest, basic values, and, most importantly, what they know and don’t know about your product, service or other messaging you are tasked with serving up to them.
With some audiences, it’s OK to use jargon or scientific terms, while an average middle schooler will require a simple explanation in the most entertaining way possible – one that is capable of effectively commanding their attention.
Armed with this knowledge, you can now comfortably study your demo, read texts they like and produce themselves, and provide them with just the right form and depth of information about your service, product, event or brand!
6. Wait it out
I’m not encouraging you to procrastinate but… Wait, I do. If you get writer’s block rarely enough and you have just a tiny bit of time to wait it out, just do that. Read up on the topic so that your mind gets some food for thought and then just let it simmer for a while.
When you are obsessed with something you just can’t let go, your brain stops being productive and has the same handful of options on repeat, preventing you from coming up with ideas to get out of the rut (that are of any use anyway).
Find something you can dive in and refocus. Give your full attention to things you care about and circle back to your work at a later time.
Fun trivia: Every time I am almost finished with an article, I get stuck at the very last part – the infamous home stretch. Don’t classify this as writer’s block – reread your piece and you will likely get a feel of where to go from there to complete your text. Knowing where to go next, incidentally, is the purpose of the present blog post.
We realize that after you are done reading this text you probably still won’t be able to write your copy – whatever it may be – an Instagram announcement, a discount coupon, an event invite, a concert poster or a full article or report, – but what we do know is that you will have a pretty clear idea of what steps to take to get there🙂
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