Content marketing in the UK usually involves a lot of writing. It’s the easiest, most versatile way of creating content for your audience. Even then, writing can be a challenge, especially when you get this dreadful thing in your head.
Writer’s block. Nearly everyone who has to write experiences it. Content marketers included.
Recall the last time you’re on your desk, ready to type, but there’s just one problem. Nothing is in your head. You can’t write if there isn’t anything to write about. It then goes on for several minutes, sometimes hours, and as a result, nothing gets done. More so if you’re a person who has to write several articles in a day. It’s such a horrible thing for certain.
But you’ll be glad to know that there are ways to avoid it. Follow these eight tips and soon enough you will kill your writer’s block forever.
Read, Read, and Read Some More
This is the only way to get ideas about what to write. To be a good writer, you have to read as much as you can. And I don’t mean reading Twitter and Facebook all day. Instead, read news, op-eds, reviews, informative articles, and the occasional blog posts. To get more variety out of your reading, add in some anecdotes, essays, and other forms of creative nonfiction. Reading will get you very far as a writer.
But who has time to read that much, you ask? Everyone. Everyone has idle time – when commuting, queuing up for coffee, waiting for a friend at lunch, etc. Use that time to catch up on your reading. It may not seem like a lot of time, but it will add up to something significant.
Get Writing Prompts from Current Events
Speaking of the news, current events are a great source of topics. With so much going on in the world these days, you can almost certainly find a topic that’s a good fit for your niche.
Here are some examples. If you’re a health writer, you can write about how the latest developments in CRISPR technology (which is a form of genetic engineering) could affect healthcare. If you’re in the online business niche, you could write about how Brexit may affect business prospects in the UK.
The idea is to find a piece of news that will fit into your niche, and take advantage of that to write a timely article. Turn that piece of news into something valuable that your audience will want to know. You can use any news, as long as it’s from a reputable source.
Bring a Notebook Everywhere, Every Time
Serendipity can produce the greatest ideas. Whenever you’re mentally idle, like when waiting for the train or drinking your morning coffee, you may think of really good ideas to write about. The problem is you’re likely to forget about it ten seconds later. What a waste of a good idea!
But not if you have a notebook with you. Once any good idea comes to mind, you can simply write it down. Then you don’t have to worry about forgetting it. Quite soon you’ll have plenty enough ideas to write about.
Find an Enabling Environment
Writing is a creative process that requires much brainpower. Naturally, you won’t be able to write well if you’re surrounded with distractions. Emails here, notifications there, people bugging you all over the place, and more. It’s chaos, and where there’s chaos, there’s writer’s block.
To be at your peak, find your place. It should be somewhere you can be left alone, so you can focus on your writing. It doesn’t have to be a very quiet place; your favourite coffee shop will do nicely. If your house is in a particularly peaceful location, then that’s even better.
Listening to music also helps you concentrate, and it drowns out the noise around you. It doesn’t work for everyone; but if listening to music while writing is what floats your boat, go for those without any lyrics. Lyrics will only divert your attention away from your writing and into the song. Instead, choose tunes like classical music or the songs in the “Focus” category on Spotify.
Just Keep Writing, Writing, Writing
All right, now that you’re seated at your desk, time to actually write. But even at this stage many people encounter a roadblock called editing.
Don’t get me wrong; editing is always necessary, but there is a right time to do that. While writing is not the right time.
Why? Because it cripples your creativity. Editing is a highly technical, rule-based process. You have grammar, syntax, punctuation, spelling – a whole host of standards to follow. The logical part of your brain operates differently from its creative side; forcing them to work together at the same time results in disaster. In this situation, writer’s block rears its ugly head, disguised as perfectionism. Once it takes over, you will take too much time to finish just one piece of writing.
It’s a lot better to separate the writing from the editing. Write first: pour out everything that’s in your head, not minding grammar and the rest. Once everything is laid out, then you can edit. After writing is the right time.
Use a Plain Text Editor
Most people prefer to use software like Microsoft Word to write in. Hey, it’s common sense, right? What other program would you use to write stuff?
But it turns out that “common sense” is slightly mistaken. Yes, it’s a word processor. It allows you to put words on a page. But it also allows you to edit – change the alignment, spacing, font, font size, font colour, and many others. Here lies our problem.
Again, editing is a distraction while writing. With all of these customisations available in the program, you’d be really tempted to edit while writing. Thus, to avoid this, it’s better to use a program that does not have these features available.
Those programs are called plain text editors: Notepad for Windows, and TextEdit for Mac. They’re built in to the operating systems, so no need to download anything. Just fire them up, and write away. All text, no formatting.
Writing in a technical style can be quite draining. And let’s admit: it’s boring to write that way all the time. When you’re bored with your writing, writer’s block will easily take hold of you.
Similarly, people also get easily bored reading technical material. Technical isn’t something that’s meant to be enjoyable, after all.
Instead, people like reading stories. In real life, many of our conversations revolve around stories. Our brains are designed to tell stories. Therefore, it’s a great idea in your writing to adapt a style of storytelling. Your audience will thank you for it.
Stories are not just meant for fun; they can also give useful information. It’s only a writing style; the content itself is still the same. You just have to reframe it as if you’re telling someone a story. Give it some characters, a conflict, and a resolution.
Of course, no one is good at what they do without constant practise. Keep writing every week, every day, whatever your schedule permits. The more you write, the more you’ll improve. And the more you refine your writing technique, the lesser you’ll experience writer’s block. Once writing becomes a habit for you, you’ll be writing away without breaking a proverbial sweat.
Writer’s block is something you can conquer. It will not stay with you if you don’t let it. Develop your writing discipline with these 8 tips, and soon enough you can say goodbye to writer’s block.
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