- if you do it alone.
- if you aren't inspired.
- if you have a thin skin.
- if you are a perfectionist.
- if you expect immediate results.
This is an unofficial list of course, but it is my own personal writer's block list. Somehow admitting that you get writers block is just as bad as being in it. And for anyone who is up to date on Google's Penquin updates and knows how crucial unique and compelling content is to search engine rankings, it only makes matters worse.
And writer's block doesn't just apply to writers. It can also apply to designers of visual content like infographics, presentations, and even in video production professionals.
While the existence of writer's block is hardly disputed, how to overcome it is not as widespread.
My 10 Tips to Help You Overcome Content Writing Blockages
Depending on your style and personality, some of these tips will help, and some will make it worse. Trial and error is something you will have to get used to as a content creator, and speaks directly to #4 above. There is no place for perfection in writing. (excluding spell check...)
- Read! I have lost count of the number of books, blogs and articles I read on a regular basis. Like a musician, I sometimes find inspiration in the writing of others. Whether I agree or disagree, it gets my blood pumping and my fingers typing. And as I have recently learned, business books alone are not enough to inspire me. Many times it is in works of fiction that I am inspired.
- Put down the keyboard and pick up a pen. There is something about going analog and removing digital distractions that helps me to focus my thoughts and sometimes even brainstorm. When putting together a challenging presentation or article, I follow the advice of Garr Reynolds in his book Presentation Zen and will use sticky notes to write down my ideas and then put them into order. It works for writers block too. Sometimes we get overwhelmed by our ideas and struggle to link it all together. This exercise helps.
- Use Evernote. I simply love this app. In my daily life, I can snap a photo that reminds me of an idea or even verbally dictate what I am thinking when I see or hear something that puts certain thoughts in my head. Saving these notes for when I am stuck helps, and I also never feel like I am forgetting something I want to share or just build on for later.
- Get physical. Go for a walk, clean your kitchen, garden, whatever you like to do. It will help clear your head and give you a sense of activity.
- Socialize. Being the cliche writer in the Maine woods on a small lake with my golden retriever sounds like a dream to most people. But I also know myself well enough to know that being an extrovert my creativity is fed by being around others. Go to networking events, conferences, even just walk the mall and observe people in action. Call friends or family, anything to get you outside of your four walls and blank pages. Then come back refreshed and energized.
- Google image search. Most of my blog posts for myself and for clients starts with an idea and a single sentence, or a metaphor. When the words aren't flowing I search images that reflect the point I am trying to get across. With that visual in front of me, it helps me to tell a story and stay on track.
- Keyword search. My first days of internet marketing started with doing keyword analysis, and it is still a foundational piece to content marketing. I mean hello?! right there in front of you are the words that people are asking the Google god to answer for them. Together with buyer personas, I pretend to be a detective and ask, why would so and so use this word, what are they looking for? Or would they even use this phrase, what about this one? Curiosity is the driver of keyword analysis and content writing.
- Deadlines and schedules. Careful with this one, for some setting a deadline and schedule is what can cause writers block. But accountability is good for us and it can help you break a big project (like writing a book) down to smaller, doable pieces. Also consider getting a coach to keep you going, bounce ideas off of, and act as your editor. Content writing is a marathon, and the best athletes hire coaches too.
- Just write. About anything. Write about having writer's block (ah-hem), write about what your dog did that day (and then reread #5), write a review of your favorite restaurant, or write in a journal. Even when you don't feel like it, writing everyday will then become like therapy and help you to form new thoughts and create a writing habit.
- Get over yourself. Even the most acclaimed writers have had those moments when they thought everything that came from them sucked. Some of it will, and some of it will seem profound to someone else that seems common to you. Don't judge, just do.
Your turn, when (and why) do you find your content writing blockages happen and what have you done to overcome them?