We’ve all heard of writer’s block. And it’s something that I’m often asked about – ‘how do you deliver copy to a timetable? I just sit there and stare at my screen’.
Personally, I never use the expression writer’s block. I can’t allow myself to be sucked in. I have to produce content. And so do you, if you’re going to have a successful website.
You and I have to see writer’s block as as a bogeyman. A fiction that will scare the bejeezus out of you, if you believe in it.
Know your topic. Then just start
So don’t allow yourself to believe you’re suffering with writer’s block. Sit down with a clear idea of what you’re going to write about – that’s the topic, not the structure and details.
If you’re still feeling unsure, start by putting down all you know as notes, write your sub heads, anything. Your company’s name and address and contact details, links to other sites, straightforward information.
Just get yourself going and pushing any notion of a block aside.
Forward motion is vital
If you’re lucky, you’ll hit your stride and really enter the zone where the passage of time isn’t an issue and everything feels easy – I’m not talking rubbish here, there has been a lot of academic research on the zone, that area of peak performance experienced by sportsmen, musicians, public speakers, software developers, artists and writers, amongst others.
I remember, many years ago, someone saying to me ‘feel the elation of creation’, but I’m not going to be that touchy-feely. I want you to be able to produce content for your website. And this is a sure-fire way to get some copy on that empty screen.
Try to write well, but don’t get hung up with trying to get your first draft perfect. Writing is as much about revision and editing as producing words from the ether.
Don’t let anything get in your way
Over the years, I’ve evolved a few tricks that stop me from getting derailed:
- Play some music – some people say quiet; others say loud. If you’re working in a space with other people, get yourself some comfortable headphones – earbuds are a pain in the, er, ear. I find instrumental music is best. Lyrics tend to get tangled up with what I’m writing
- Ignore anything that’s going on around you – gossip is good, but it won’t help you get the job done
- Make sure you have something to drink sitting on your desk beside you – you won’t have an excuse to get up immediately to get some coffee
- Switch off the phone, social media and e-mail – minimise interruptions. There’s very little more important than the content you’re wrestling with
- Don’t get stuck if you can’t think of a word – if it’s going to be more than a short stop to think, I put the nearest words to what I’m trying to think of [in square brackets] and come back to them later. It’s amazing the way the right word pops up when your mindset has changed. You can do a search from the beginning of the document on ‘[‘, and you’ll make sure you find all of them
And one that I don’t use, but many recommend:
- Turn your auto spellcheck and grammar check off – people argue that you will tend to stop and engage with the copy that’s been flagged and your flow will be interrupted. You spellcheck all in one batch at the end. It’s good, sound advice that I choose to ignore. I see most spelling mistakes as I make them anyway and never have been able to get out of the habit of correcting them as I go along.
So treat writer’s block as a bogeyman, something invented to scare the uninitiated. Treat it as if it doesn’t exist and get on with your writing.
Do you have any tips for getting writing done?
Thanks to photosteve101 for making the image available.