As a content marketer, one of your main roles is to (duh) produce content. But that’s simplifying it. You know it’s more thanjust producing content – it needs to be the total package: compelling, interesting, informative, conversational, and more. It has to be a pony with many, many tricks.
So you sit down to create some content magic, to cook up something that is essentially everything but the kitchen sink…and nothing. It’s like that moment in “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation” when Clark Griswold drags his whole family out into the cold to turn his Christmas lights on. The drums are rolling, he plugs the cords in, and poof! Not a single light turns on.
Yep, it’s just like that – writer’s block has struck again.
You’re just sitting there, staring at a blank screen with the blinking cursor mocking you. Or you’ve gotten halfway through and you’ve hit a wall.
AND NOW THE PANIC SETS IN!!!
You need to come up with something. It’s your job for crying out loud. You’re in between a rock and a hard place because you’re probably under a deadline and you need to create something amazing, but it’s just not coming to you.
Calm down, stop hyperventilating and try some of these tricks to triumph over your writer’s block.
If you’re having trouble getting started…
Sometimes, you just don’t know where to begin. If coming up with a topic is your problem, hit up the Internet.
First, head to tried and true Google to do a search on your industry. But this isn’t just any Google search – you’re going to be doing a Google news search. Try searching not just your industry, but anything that has to do with your industry.
For instance, if you happen to be in the content marketing industry, you might want to do a news search on “content marketing” as well as “content creation,” “social media,” “email marketing,” “native advertising,” and more. This will give you the chance to see the latest headlines in your industry.
Then, head on over to Twitter. Similarly, you should start searching hashtags that relate to your industry. While you may stumble upon some of the same stories you found in your Google news search, you’ll see more headlines that may not have made it onto your first page of Google search results in addition to what other people in your industry are talking and blogging about.
If you often find it difficult to brainstorm a topic, you can do a little legwork before you place your hands on a keyboard. Sometimes when you’re on a walk, in the shower, cooking, any mundane, daily task, an idea for content could pop into your head. When that happens, write it down right away so you don’t forget it. It may be a terrible idea, but it could be a launch pad for another great idea.
If you can’t figure out what else to say…
This may be the more frustrating form of this affliction. You have the content perfectly planned out in your head, you start writing and then you simply cannot figure out what else to say. That completed content is just slightly out of reach.
My mother always told me to never walk away from your problems, but to face them. Sorry mom, but in the case of writer’s block, sometimes the best thing you can do is walk away from it for a bit. Yes, I know you’re under deadline, but walking away from your screen, out of the room and getting some fresh air may just bestow upon you a fresh idea. Clear the topic from your mind, think about some other things, have a snack, and then come back.
When you return to your partially completed content, just write. Set a timer for five to 10 minutes and just free write – pull open a new blank document or grab a pen and paper and for that set amount of time, write down everything you know about the topic and anything else that pops into your head. If things keep coming up in your mind that aren’t related to the topic you’re writing about, jotting them down may just get them out of your head and stop them from distracting you or, perhaps, causing your writer’s block.
Whatever you do write, even if it’s not great, just write anyway. I’m giving you permission to craft a terrible first draft. Do you think Harper Lee sat down and wrote “How to Kill a Mockingbird” from start to finish in one draft? Write it out, leave it, maybe do some research on the topic, and come back with a critical eye.
(Well, this is awkward – I’m now stuck. I’m going for a walk…brb)
(Okay, I’m back and, by the way, the weather outside is amazing right now)
If you’re still stuck after your break, enlist the help of a friend or colleague. Let them read what you’ve got so far and see if they have any ideas or insight into what else you could say. Also, after they read, request that they ask you open-ended questions about the topic. This will get you really thinking critically about the topic and help you come up with some points you may not have thought of before.
If you’re lost, you would likely pick up a map or open one up on your phone to find your way. The same can be said about writing. Pull yourself away from your content, and create a map or outline of how you want the work to flow, including how it should start, where you want to take your readers, and how it will end.
Also, there’s no rule that you have to start writing at the beginning and end at the end. You can start writing at any part of the content you want. If you’re stuck in one particular place, let’s say you’re in the middle, leave it and write the ending. This can help you create a bridge from where you left off to finishing your content.
Writer’s block happens to everyone – I will admit that happened to me with this blog post. Sometimes you have a lot to say, but don’t know how to say it and sometimes you simply don’t know what to say. But, since you’re a writer and a content marketer, you know you have the skills to crank out an amazing piece of work. You just have to reach into your toolbox of tricks and talent to get over your writer’s block hump.
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