Lost for words: How marketers can tackle writers block
Anyone who writes as part of their job will have experienced or at least heard of writers block. Whether you’re a bestselling novelist, a copywriter or a marketer who puts together client documents and emails, few are immune from becoming inexplicably lost for words at times.
There’s an endless list of causes and cures for writers block, with some even arguing there’s no such thing. You could literally write a book on the subject… if only you could think of the words.
Stephen King, The Coen Brothers, J.K. Rowling and Eminem have all experienced this terrible infliction at some point in their careers, but they all got over it. And if they can, surely anyone in marketing can – it’s not like we’re reproducing Shakespeare right? Here are a few words of advice on how to get over the dreaded writers block…
Know where you’re going
It’s near on impossible to write anything if you don’t have a beginning, a middle and an end in sight from the outset. Ask yourself who your piece is aimed at and what it needs to achieve and then jot down what each section should contain, adding question marks to any uncertain areas.
It might be that you’ve been given a poor brief and need to push back for more information, or it could be that you haven’t yet found the right angle. If it’s a case of the latter, ask a colleague for their opinion – you might just find the missing jigsaw piece needed to jumpstart your creativity.
Whether it’s Justin Bieber blasting out of the Sonos, a stressed out Account Manager pestering you for work or a constantly ringing telephone, the chaotic world of marketing is not without its distractions – none of which are good for writers.
Block out the white noise with a good pair of headphones or earplugs, hideaway in a quiet spot, or if you’re really stacked – ask to work from home; whatever it takes to get that welcome dose of respite in order to get the job at hand done.
When writers block strikes, procrastination can easily kick in and you can spend hours finding other things you try to convince yourself are just as important. Sometimes the best thing to do here is just write. Good writers have bad days, and writing can be a tough job at times, but nothing should stop you from simply getting on with it and writing the ugly first draft.
Start by jotting down everything you need to cover in your introduction, main body and conclusion and then just hammer away at the keyboard until you’ve covered everything, and don’t worry how ugly or incoherent it appears at this stage. You can then take a breather and come back to it later, look over it with a fresh pair of eyes and tweak accordingly.
Write for your friend
Often when writing, it can be easy to get bogged down with what your editor or client wants, the inner critic inside you comes out and you end up second guessing every single word and sentence. Instead, try pitching your piece toward a close friend, loved one or colleague you get on with and respect, and you should find the words will flow more easily. Once it’s complete you might find it’s perfectly good as it is. If not, you can always edit accordingly to suit the brand and audience you’re trying to reach.
Write and only write
Sometimes we only have ourselves to blame when it comes to stifling creativity. Endless social media notifications that tell you nothing, email alerts and hilarious WhatsApp group messages from your annoying friend on holiday are all unwelcome distractions.
If you’re in a position where you’ve done your research and simply need to write, then switch your smart phone to flight mode, turn off WI-FI on your laptop, set yourself a goal and get on with it. If necessary, you can always get back online later to cite a reference or check Twitter to see what Rand Fishkin’s moustache is up to.
Get some caffeine
Last, but certainly not least on the list, is of course caffeine – something few writers can live without. Whilst scientific evidence supporting the creative benefits of this popular drug may be hazy, there’s no denying a break away from your screen can work wonders for the mind
Some might say that the benefits of caffeine are all psychological and they’re probably right. But, then you could also say that writer’s block too is all but a figment of your imagination.