Writer’s block – the most frustrating feeling that wraps its claws around all wordsmiths at some point in time. Also known as creator’s block, this mental blankness has a tendency to strike at the most inconvenient time. It affects all creators, from authors and journalists to artists and designers.
Writer’s block is the inability to put words onto paper (or to type sentences on a screen, in today’s case). It’s not because writers have lost their basic motor functions, rather they lack creative ideas and dislike the words they’ve already strung together.
It’s a helpless feeling of wanting to write something, but your mind just can’t access the right words. Everyone has their own way of dealing with it. Some take a break and step outside to clear their head, others grab a cup of strong coffee and return to their seats with renewed determination.
Ending writer’s block can be a laborious task but, luckily, we have a few steps that you can try to make the process easier. These steps are especially effective when working on a deadline and time is not your friend.
Forget about the content
The first step in solving writer’s block is to stop thinking about the content. Trying to force your brain to focus on the content will only put it in a death spin. Remember that the aim of writing is not to create the content, it’s to engage with and reach an audience.
Good articles are not the result of focussing on the words you are typing. A well-written piece of work stems from focusing on the audience, trying to create a compelling read for your viewers.
Content is not created for websites, publications, newspapers or novels – it’s created for audiences. Don’t let the content itself create more problems than necessary. Stop thinking about it and focus on what you want your audience to feel, think or do upon reading your work.
Even if your goal is to improve your website’s SEO or to create some leads for your business, focusing on the audience will allow you to put words onto paper.
Put yourself in your readers’ shoes
Once you’ve started to think about your audience, start focusing on their wants and needs. The most useful content often helps to solve a problem currently faced by the reader. All problem-solving content must have three things; relevance, importance and urgency.
The article must be relevant to the reader (they did choose to click on it or read it, after all). It must be important to them for some reason or other, which is why they are seeking a solution. Finally, there is usually a sense of urgency with problems as everyone wants to find a solution in the quickest way possible.
When faced with a case of writer’s block, remember who you are writing for and why they probably care. By putting yourself in their shoes, you can better understand their needs and articulate your words and thoughts more easily.
Stick with what you’ve got
Now you’ve defined your audience and understand their needs. Just start putting sentences down and go with it. It’s challenging to write when you don’t like anything you’re saying, but it’s better than having a blank screen.
You can always come back when inspiration strikes and rework your content, but putting words down is an important step to making progress. Overcoming writer’s block is all about moving slowly and steadily onward.
Feelings of inadequacy are rife when you’re unmotivated and uninspired. As writers, we tend to second guess our abilities when we’re struggling to formulate sentences. However, we are often more critical of our own abilities than our readers are.
You just have to get on with it and write with what you’ve got – even if it doesn’t feel like much. Writer’s block does come to an end, and when it does you can always review your work and breathe some creativity back into it.
Start formulating a structure
As you start to give more thought to your work, start thinking about the structure. All articles need a framework upon which words make sense. A structure gives the sentences a logical order that makes sense to the reader.
It doesn’t matter how you decide to structure your article, as long as you have one before you start writing. There are many different structures that suit various purposes, such as posing and answering questions, following a chronological order, or resolving a conflict of some sort.
Audiences need clarity and will often skim read an article to find what they’re looking for. A framework will allow them to pick up keywords as they scan the paragraphs and still make sense of the article.
What’s important is that you begin to structure your thoughts and arguments in a way that is easily digestible and understandable for the audience. Your article should just make sense and this comes together through the structure.
Don’t be such a perfectionist
When overcoming writer’s block, it’s common for a writer to want to edit, rework and refine every sentence. These articles are published under our names, after all. While being concerned about the grammaticality and perfection of an article is a good trait for a writer to have, it can get in the way of productivity.
After wasting time with writer’s block, the last thing you want to do is further delay the process by being too finicky about the minute details. Once you get back in the zone, don’t jeopardise the inspiration and productivity by being too fussy. By all means, make sure the article is of a professional standard before sending it out, but don’t waste time stressing over minor details.
For content writers and journalists who have multiple articles to get through every day, time is not a luxury that can be spent on perfecting every minor detail. That’s what editors and proofreaders are for. Write your article, check it for glaring mistakes and send it for editing. Moving on to the next piece will actually make you feel productive.
Your purpose as a writer is to create helpful and engaging content for the audience. Don’t lose sight of the true reason why you write every day. Getting articles done and being productive is the best way to boost your morale and fight writer’s block; but when it strikes again, use these steps to scramble out of the pit once again.
Sorted Design Agency is a creative company that constantly looks for solutions to other people’s problems. These problems come mostly in the visual format, such as graphic design, logo and illustration, but we’re experts in brand development, website design, and digital SEO campaigns as well.
Based in Pretoria and Cape Town, Sorted has been in the content marketing industry since 2006. We assist your company with its corporate identity by communicating core values through content and articles written for your website, blog and news area. This content is supported by AdWords and social advertising, which facilitates wider reach and audience growth. Turn your website into a business tool.
Sorted also owns two other businesses; InkFish Print Studio – a printing company that handles a range of promotional materials for businesses and other services for individual customers, and Pampiri + Kie – a gifts and stationery store selling online and in-store. Both of these companies operate from Cape Town and Pretoria.
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