Writer’s Block? Causes and Cures For the Blank Page
You sit down to write that blog post, newsletter, product description or social media post. You place your fingers on the keyboard, take a breath and…your fingers don’t move.
You can’t write.
Writer’s block is both dreaded and real. It happens to all of us and almost always at the worst possible time. It never happens when you’ve written all the important stuff and are ahead of the game, right? Of course not!
Let me assure you, however, that all is not lost when you have writer’s block. There are both causes and cures for it. Let’s take a look at them now.
Cause #1: No topic
You try to be consistent with your content: a blog post every week, a newsletter once a month, social media posts daily. Having a content calendar and a clearly defined schedule for sharing new content is a great first step.
But when you’re sitting down to write solely because the calendar says you must, writer’s block can set in hard and fast.
A lack of topic is something we all run into. You can’t just write about any random thing (or can you?) and you also can’t just write a bunch of fluff.
So what do you do to cure having no topic? You make sure you have a topic, of course!
Take some time to sit down when you’re not under pressure to write anything and brainstorm a variety of topics that are related to your business. You don’t need to come up with specific blog post titles or anything that specific.
You do, however, need to come up with some broad strokes ideas of things that you could drill down and come up with more specific things. For example, if you own a real estate business, your broad strokes topics might include how to buy a house, how to sell a house, and how to be a landlord. Then you can drill down and write about topics like applying for a home loan or how to determine what neighborhood is right for your family (buying a house), getting your home in shape before selling or what happens after you accept an offer (selling a house), and how to find and vet potential tenants or why hiring a realtor to help you rent out your home can ensure an easier rental process (being a landlord).
Cause #2: You’re struggling to get started
You have this great idea and you just know it’s going to be a hit! But that blinking cursor staring back at you belligerently from the screen isn’t helping you take the idea from thought to written content.
Once you get started, writing is so much easier. Momentum keeps you going. It’s getting those first words on the page that hold you up. And they can hold you up forever if you let them.
So don’t let them. The biggest reason that most of us suffer writer’s block from this cause is that we think we need to start at the beginning and write consecutively through to the end. But you don’t!
You can start with the end and work backward. Start in the middle and work both backward and forward. Start with a headline and then write the first sentence, then the last sentence, then all that comes between.
It doesn’t matter where you start, just start. There’s a reason why writers have what’s called a rough draft. It’s rough because it’s not about looking pretty and polished, but about getting the thoughts in your head on the page.
Once you get them on the page, then you can reorganize, rewrite, and revise until you get the pretty and polished piece of content you’ll share.
Cause #3: Little to no research
I’m going to tell you a little secret: even the so-called “experts” have gaps in their knowledge. You don’t have to know it all. In fact, you can’t.
We convince ourselves that we do have to know it all, though. We believe that if there’s any gap in our knowledge about our business, clients will go to someone else because that gap means we’re not competent.
Let me repeat: you don’t have to know it all.
If you’re stumped because there’s something you don’t know, research it. Ask Google, ask a friend, ask the librarian for book suggestions, ask Siri, read a competitor’s blog. Pull together a variety of reliable sources where you can learn what you don’t know and round out the information you need to write your content.
Don’t limit your research to just when you need to write about a topic, either. Take some time every day or every week to scan reliable online sources for information that you can commit to memory for future use or bookmark for later. Use a service like Evernote, Keep, or Trello to keep track of these things in an organized way that makes it easier to come back and use them later.
Cause #4: You don’t know how to structure the content
Blog posts, newsletters, social media posts, product or service descriptions all have different structures. Each one plays a different role, and different types of content are better suited to different content structures. You wouldn’t put a 2,500-word piece on Twitter, obviously – but a blog post of only 280 characters is going to look weird and unprofessional to your existing and potential clients.
When you aren’t sure how to structure the content, it can be difficult to get started. There are too many questions that can’t be answered. How much information should you include? Do you need an introduction? Is it even something you should really share?
Knowing where to share content, how to structure it so people will read it, and being able to determine the best method of sharing your knowledge is a critical part of writing. Trying to turn a nugget of knowledge that should be a tweet into a blog post is going to leave you blocked for sure. So will trying to condense a blog post into a social media post.
Learning how to structure your content is easier than you think. Reach out today and we can get you on the path to not only understanding how best to structure your content.
Cause #5: You’ve never written anything this long before
There’s nothing worse than having a great idea and realizing that it’s a blog post five times as long as any you’ve written before – or an entire course – and you’ve never written that much before.
If you typically only write texts and tweets, it can be intimidating to suddenly faced with writing a 2,000-word blog post. You’ll start to nitpick every word choice, every piece of punctuation, and whether that sentence sounds right. All that is assuming that you even get the first words on the page to begin with.
Writing is like any other skill. You can’t go from never doing it to being skilled and able to go the distance overnight. You have to work at it, stick with it and push yourself just a little further each time.
That’s the cure: just keep going. Keep writing until you no long feel intimidated and unable to write.
What if you just don’t want to write?
Sometimes you’ll realize that the cause of your writer’s block is really just a symptom of a bigger issue: you don’t want to do the writing.
You aren’t coming up with topics, aren’t researching, don’t know where to start or how to structure your content because you just don’t want to do it. You know you need content to help your business grow and thrive, but you really don’t want to do it yourself.
That’s okay. That’s what I’m here for. You can give me your ideas and I’ll whip them into creative, interesting content that your readers will love. Or you can come to me with empty hands and a plea to come up with something, anything, for your blog, newsletter, or other area. The end result will be the same: You’ll have great content that does what you need it to do without spending the time on it yourself.
If you’re ready to take that leap and let someone else take over the content creation for you, reach out today for a free consultation. Let’s get you back to doing the things you love!
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