You’ve read the headline and you’re shaking your head.
You know writer’s block is real.
You’ve experienced it, haven’t you?
Staring at your page or your screen with your brain giving out nothing but static, as if it’s a detuned TV on full volume.
Well, I’m here to tell you that those moments are not writer’s block.
Writer’s block is a MYTH and I’m calling shenanigans.
The truth is that writer’s block is just an excuse to get out of work.
There, I’ve said it. Saying you can’t write because you’ve got writer’s block is the equivalent of saying, “But miss, I’m sick miss * cough cough *”.
If you take a moment and dig deep, you’ll admit that I’m telling the truth.
For all the posts we copywriters publish, sharing tips on how to make copywriting easy…. It’s hard!
Coming up with creative and unique approaches to well-worn topics is hard.
Writing headlines is hard.
Stringing sentences together in a way that keeps eyes glued to the words, it’s hard.
Crafting a call to action that doesn’t evoke a yawn is hard.
But professional copywriters don’t have the luxury of waiting for a lightning bolt of inspiration. We’re in the business of meeting deadlines, delivering exceptional copywriting when we promise we will.
There is no time to be tired, bored or lacking in imagination.
There is no secret to this
Throughout my copywriting course, I explain (and explain and explain) that solid writing comes out of a solid process.
When you know how to construct a piece of copywriting, the pressure is off. You have a starting point, an outline, a guide to follow. When you know how dig into a business’s story, their audience and their offer (and you do), you can rest easy because you will find the copywriting gold.
When you follow a process, your copy begins to write itself. That’s when your creativity and imagination get a kick up the bum and starts to pull their weight.
So what is the truth behind the myth of writer’s block?
#1 You don’t know enough
If you don’t really know how the product or service works, you can’t zero in on the small but extremely significant details.
When you haven’t done enough research, you can’t see all the possible connections.
If you don’t truly understand the audience you’re writing for, how can you turn those features into benefits that will stop someone in their track?
#2 You don’t know where to start
This is when the blank page really does mock you but who cares what a blank page has to say?
It’s not writer’s block, it’s simply writing without a plan.
#3 You don’t have confidence in yourself
You got the job, you’ve taken the brief but now that it’s time to write a little voice whispers, “Are you really up to this?”
If that is happening, you need to hush that little voice to silence! (Keep reading for some tips on doing just that.)
#4 You’re not in the mood
Perhaps you’ve got a big worry that’s distracting you. Or a more exciting project you’d rather be working on. If this is the case, don’t kid yourself that it’s writer’s block, okay?
How to bust your own writer’s block and get unstuck
Do more research
Fill the gaps in your knowledge. Research the product, the service, business and the industry. Can you get any hands-on experience with the product? Talk to the people who deliver the service? Walk around the business? Talk to an industry body?
I often find interesting angles and ideas start popping out when I’m more physically involved (as in, not simply researching on the computer) in my research. A simple walk around a factory can reveal nuggets of pure gold. If that’s not possible, just seeing what everyone else is doing can help you eliminate yawn-worthy angles for your writing.
Whatever you do, don’t use research as a means of procrastination. Check out more handy procrastination-busting tips.
Do more planning
Copywriting formulas are a great way to give your copywriting some general structure before you start writing. I’ve talked about the Pain-Agitate-Solve formula before as it’s a personal favourite of mine, but there are others.
The classic marketing formula is AIDA, which says that copywriting needs to:
- attract the Attention of its audience;
- create Interest and Desire;
- encourage people to take Action
There is also:
- ACCA (Awareness – Comprehension – Conviction – Action)
- AIDPPC (Attention – Interest – Description – Persuasion – Proof – Close)
- IDCA (Interest – Desire – Conviction – Action)
- AAPPA (Attention – Advantage – Proof – Persuasion – Action)
- PPPP (Picture – Promise – Prove – Push)
If you choose to use a copywriting formula, remember that it’s simply a framework to order your thoughts.
Clarify your research by asking yourself:
- What is the problem being solved?
- What impact does that problem have?
- What is the solution being offered?
- What action do I want people to take?
Just start writing
This sounds so simple because it is.
Set a timer and force yourself to write.
- No social media. No emails. No phone calls.
- No pondering for too long.
- No editing, correcting or formatting.
Just let the words flow and don’t stop…
I find that by forcing myself to write without distractions or editing, I’m more open to ideas and connections (as I don’t overthink what I know).
Even if you’re following a copywriting formula, just do a brain dump on the page and see what you get!
Don’t start at the beginning
For high school and university assignments, I would write the bibliography first. Why? Because it was easy and I started writing. It’s exactly the last tip suggested. Just start!
You don’t have to start at the beginning. I rarely write headlines first and I usually leave a website homepage until last.
Start with some easy copy first. Maybe that’s the contact page.
Or leave the headline and introduction and jump straight to the features. I often leave place markers in my copywriting such as:
Introduction – open with single biggest pain point.
Something about making that pain more visceral.
I start writing here.
Do something else
If you have that big worry I mentioned above, take care of it! If your brain is popping with ideas for the copywriting project that’s more fun, do that instead!
If you’re just in a funk (and it happens) give yourself an hour or so off. Read a favourite novel, watch a movie, go for a walk… get inspiration from the world around you.
Assuming you’re not going to miss your deadline, do what you need to do to remove distractions. When you do, your brain will be unencumbered and free to produce awesome copy.
Give yourself a pep talk
Dan Pinks talked about the internal chat we have with ourselves before a big moment.
He explained that positive self-talk (such as, “you’ve got this!”) is more effective than no self-talk. But he offered an even more effective approach. Ask yourself a question. Like, “Have I got this?” Then tell yourself why you do. You’re reminding yourself of all the reasons you have to feel confident and preparing yourself to be awesome.
If the client booked you, they did so for a reason. So go and prove them right!
Don’t take yourself so seriously
No one’s life hangs in the balance. I hope!
Take a breath, make a coffee and remember that this is just the first draft. Everything builds from here.