How to Beat Writer’s Block: Tips for Content Marketers (and Everyone Else)
There’s a fantastic irony to writers writing about writer’s block, which is that in order to hand out tips on how to beat writer’s block with any authority at all, we first have to experience it. A lot.
Full disclosure, this is a list of the things I have done since starting this blog post:
- Googled “tips for beating writer’s block”
- Checked Facebook
- Checked Twitter
- Answered emails
- Bought three things off Amazon
- Given myself a stern pep talk about taking my own writing advice
- Checked Facebook again
Yeah. I know.
First lesson: Having a bunch of tips on hand for beating writer’s block does not guarantee you will be completely inoculated against it.
Second lesson: That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have them on hand and use them at every chance you get until you find the methods that work best for you.
Content marketing writer’s block
As a marketer, you have a couple of things working in your favor when it comes to encountering and avoiding writer’s block. First, you have your buyer personas. Your buyer personas shouldn’t just be an exercise you go through at the start of an inbound marketing effort. They are a tool that you should use as often as possible to focus your messaging, including when you’re writing blog posts.
However, there are also things about content marketing that make writer’s block that much harder to overcome, like the fact that you may or may not be writing from your own expertise.
If you work for an agency or in any other environment where you’re writing for clients, you probably often find yourself writing on a topic that may be interesting to the client and their buyer personas, but not so much for you.
There’s also a decent chance, whether you’re writing for clients or your own company, that you’ve written about this topic or something similar before. Meaning that you’ve already spent quite a few clever one-liners on it and now you’re staring the content calendar in the face wondering how in the world you’re going to come up with new material before the end of the day.
Actionable tips for beating writer’s block
So what’s a marketer to do? Well, we already covered tips one and two, but just for the sake of clarity:
Tip #1: Go back to the buyer personas.
Tip #2: Use your content planning tools.
Because sometimes all you need to beat a case of writer’s block is to be reminded who you’re writing for and why. However, if that doesn’t cut it, we’ve got more tips.
Tip #3: Bother a colleague. Your fellow marketers can be a really incredible resource, at all stages of the writing process.
Tip #4: Take a break. Whether you take an actual break—walk around the block, do yoga in the empty conference room, nap in your car—or just take a break from that particular piece of content to work on something else, getting away from that blinking cursor for a while can be a huge help.
Tip #5: Read something (or listen to a podcast!). I don’t know about you, but I have a never-ending list of bookmarked articles, suggested links, and blogs that I can’t possibly keep up with as often as I’d like to. In those moments when I’m struggling for inspiration, I cross one item off that list. Just one, though, because if I allowed myself any more than that, I would fall down the internet rabbit hole forever. Podcasts are also great for writing and storytelling inspiration, especially if you’re a multitasker like me.
Tip #6: Change your environment. If you’re fortunate enough to work somewhere that has common work areas available, use them. When I’m struggling with a particularly bad case of writer’s block, I head straight to the couches in the Raka lounge area. If there isn’t a common area available, try changing your environment by playing some music or mixing up your own workspace a little.
Tip #7: Skip the intro (or whatever it is that’s got you stymied). If you’re suffering from writer’s block, your flow has already been interrupted, so embrace it. Try skipping to a different section to get back on track. Just leave yourself a note or something so you don’t forget to go back.
And last, but certainly not least…
Tip #8: Just do something. It is so, so easy to get discouraged when you hit writer’s block. You get to that point where you not only don’t want to write, you don’t want to do anything. So do something. Stand up. Spin around. Find a hilarious GIF and send it to a coworker. Write a string of nonsense sentences. Write a to-do list. Draw a frustrated stick figure. Just don’t let your creativity stagnate.