We’ve all been there: a blank page, a blinking cursor, a looming deadline. Writer’s block. It can strike at any time, whether you’ve just fired off your most impressive work to-date and you’re ready to tackle the next assignment or you’ve been struggling to find the words for your last few pieces of writing.
Many who consider themselves “real” writers will try to tell you that writer’s block doesn’t exist. It does. And, if you try to tell yourself that it doesn’t when you’re sitting there staring at the same sentence for a half hour (or longer), well, you’re not doing yourself any favors.
Fortunately, in the world of content marketing, alive with visual storytelling and social sharing and interactive media, writer’s block increasingly has less of a chance of rearing its ugly head. In fact, with 41% of B2B marketers citing “producing the kind of content that engages prospects/customers” as their biggest content marketing challenge, the more you can move beyond the writing and explore other forms of audience engagement and lead generation, the better.
So, if you’re stuck, try to get yourself unstuck by focusing less on the actual writing and more on creatively brainstorming whatever it is you’re attempting to write about. Here are 3 suggestions to get you started:
- Kick It Off With a List of Questions
Many professionals tasked with creating content marketing collateral shy away from the writing because they don’t think they’re any good at it. If that’s the case, think of the blog post or article you’re writing as just a list of questions to start. Come up with a couple bullet points about your company’s service offerings and anticipate the answers to any questions your audience might have. Doing so will allow you to brainstorm the points you’ll highlight when you begin writing and it might even help you think of something you may have missed before.
“Writer phobiacs often love to talk,” says one marketing writer in an article about content marketing solutions for the writing impaired. “When you find this approach working as it should, ask a second question, and a third. Probe. Ask for examples of how ‘it’ works. After you’ve made your way through ‘how,’ back up and ask “why?” Try ‘when,’ and of course, ‘who.’ All that remains to be done is transcription.”
- Let the Images Tell the Story
According to Mashable, more than 250 million photos are uploaded to Facebook every day and posts that include a photo album or a picture generate about 180 and 120% more engagement than the average post, respectively. So what does all of this mean? If you’re in any way struggling with the language in your blog post, by all means let the images tell the story!
At KoMarketing Associates, the content marketing team relies heavily on the use of photo- and video-based blog posts to increase audience engagement and drive conversions. In fact, for one of our larger clients for whom we write regular content, we create a minimum of one image gallery/photo collection a week and we distribute the post across social media channels on the optimal day of the week for social sharing.
Very little text, if any, goes into these posts; the idea is to deliver to our audience a post worthy of social sharing. In doing so, we’re not only building audience engagement, but we’re also establishing that our client is aware of the types of blog posts that their audience will want to share.
- Step Away from the Computer
Sometimes, the best course of action can be to take a break and clear your head. In fact, Copyblogger maintains that often the best brainstorming occurs when you’re having trouble focusing. If you fall into the category of needing a little time away from your desk to come up with your ideas, then try taking a walk around the block or switching gears to work on another assignment until inspiration strikes. Business2Community recommends taking an even more unconventional approach to “unclog your brain,” including reading a book that has nothing to do with your industry, cleaning your car, or playing with your pets. Whatever it is, make sure you stray from the task at hand with the intention of returning!
One approach (also outlined in the B2C article) that worked for me in graduate school and has not yet failed me in my professional career is to set a timer and write without stopping until the appointed time. Often, writers or anyone attempting to write can fall victim to the dreaded self-edit, a surefire way of curbing creative flow. Instead, try to just get all of your ideas down on paper; you can always go back and weed out the absurd (or even embarrassing) ideas you’ve come up with later. The trick is to simply come up with them in the first place.
Whether you’re a content marketing writer by trade or you’ve been tasked with a writing assignment you’d rather not tackle, it can be intimidating to sit down to a blank screen. Instead of falling victim to the ever-present fear of writer’s block, try to make your job a little bit easier by approaching each writing project with an open mind. It may help to come up with a preliminary list of questions that your audience will want answers to, or maybe you abandon the text altogether and shoot for a social-friendly, share-worthy photo- or video-based post. Whatever you decide, be sure to give yourself the freedom and flexibility to explore your ideas by taking a break from the work, if need be, or otherwise coming up with a list of ways to clear your head and start fresh.
What’s important to remember is that, when writer’s block strikes, don’t let it drag you down!