6 Ways Business Owners Can Break Through Writer’s Block

6 Ways Business Owners Can Break Through Writer’s Block - The Cafe Wordsmith

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Few things are scarier than a blank page. 

Between completing a creative writing degree, writing a few books, working as an English and writing tutor for K-12 students, and years of blogging and freelance writing, I know all about writer’s block. 

I’m well acquainted with that awful feeling of watching the cursor flash on an empty page, my hands poised motionless on the keyboard, and a head either so full of ideas that I can’t figure out what to write first or a mind as empty as the page in front of me. 

We’ve all been there, and anyone who writes regularly for fun or for business will get veeeery cozy with writer’s block from time to time. 

So how do you finally get some words onto the page when you’re totally drawing a blank? 

Here’s what’s worked for me and what I’ve told clients, students, and friends when they’ve asked me about writer’s block: 

 

How to Break Through Writer’s Block

 

#1: Write SOMETHING

I rarely experience writer’s block these days, and I think that’s because I’ve gotten really good at writing crap. 

In fact, I call my first draft of anything—a blog post, sales page, novel, whatever—the crap draft or dump draft, because I’m just dumping out ideas that I can later arrange into something readable. And it’s almost always crappy. 

If you’re blocked, start by getting something down on the page. Brainstorm ideas until you hit on something good. Freewrite about your topic, even if it doesn’t make sense. The key here is to stop worrying about writing well and just focus on writing something, because you just need to create something you can edit later. 

You can edit a crappy draft. You can’t edit a blank page.  

 

#2: Brainstorm ideas

Start by either writing down all the ideas you want to cover in the piece you’re writing. Either brainstorm your ideas in a list or freewrite them in paragraph format. Get it all out. Even if you’re just writing nonsense for the first few minutes. Eventually, something will click.

Here are some tips to generate ideas from your existing content. 

Then, go back and pick the ideas that are most important and add any details and thoughts you want to include. 

 

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#3: Organize your ideas 

This can be a great preventative measure because if you know what you want to write before you start, the actual writing part will be a lot easier. 

Some of those ideas you just brainstormed will make more sense if they come before other ideas. In what order should you present those ideas? Do they build on each other? Do they have a natural flow or sequence?

Now you should have a fairly detailed outline of your writing project. This outline serves as a map, which tells you what to write in case you get stuck. If you discover gaps in your outline, or places where you want to add something else, go for it! 

Update your outline if necessary so you don’t get lost again. Sometimes it really helps so see the flow of your ideas in that format as you write the actual piece. 

 

#4: Move

If you’re really stuck and these other ideas just aren’t happening, get up and move your body. Take a break. Vacuum the living room, play with your pet, or fold a load of laundry. Anything to get away from your computer for a few minutes.

My favorite way to dislodge ideas and relax enough to write is to go for a walk. Walking is a great way to smooth out your energy and let your body get into a comfortable rhythm while your mind wanders. After a ten minute walk, your mind will be in a much better place for writing. It’s also a good way to work through problems and snags in your project.

 

#5: Feed your brain

Sometimes when I just can’t seem to write anything worth reading, it’s because my tank is completely empty.

I write a LOT, and I have to feed my brain a steady diet of ideas in the form of articles, books, music, and conversation. If I don’t do this, I have a hard time coming up with new ideas. Julia Cameron, author of The Artist’s Way, calls this “filling the well”. I’ve also heard it compared to tending a garden or filling a cup. 

If you feel like you have nothing to say, stretch your brain a little bit. Ideas will start flowing soon! 

 

#6: Talk to someone about your idea

If you can’t seem to wrangle your thoughts onto the page, try talking through your ideas with someone else or even out loud into a recording app. This works really well if you’re more of a talker than a writer, and it can renew your enthusiasm for a topic when you’re getting sick of it. 

Bonus: If you record yourself talking, you can listen later for important ideas to write down. 

 

Writing is a Muscle

The more you write, the better you’ll get at writing. It’s that simple. 

You’ll get used to sitting down to write and turning your creativity on like a faucet. You’ll get into the habit of expressing your thoughts in words and feeling comfortable with writing crappy first drafts.

But in the meantime, I hope these tips help you get past the block and into a good writing flow!

To make your posts even MORE effective, make sure to grab my free blog post checklist to make sure your posts have all the ingredients that have been proven to increase signups, sales, clicks, and sales! 

 

How I Write a Blog Post in Under an Hour

HOW I WRITE A BLOG POST IN UNDER AN HOUR

I’ve written hundreds of blog posts over the past ten years for myself and clients, and by now, I’m pretty fast. Unless I have to do a lot of research, I can write an 800-word draft in 20 minutes.

Most of the time, I can write a blog post in under an hour with another quick edit right before I publish.

This comes from practice, of course, and from being a really fast typer, but I’ve also dialed in my process so that I minimize habits that slow me down.

It doesn’t have to take you forever to write a blog post! Here’s how I do it.

 

How I Write a Blog Post in under an hour

 

Step 1: The Dump Draft

This isn’t exactly a first draft, but a pre-draft. I call this a dump draft because I think of it like dumping all my material out so I can shape it later. Think of dumping clay on a table so you can start sculpting.

This step is the KEY to writing anything quickly. This immediately gets you past the blank page jitters, which can save you so much wasted time waffling about what to write!

The idea is to get all your ideas on paper, even if they’re out of order or misspelled or make no sense. No editing allowed! Just get it all out. Write anything you can think of about your topic, story, or ideas. Anything you want to mention in your post. Write it down now, even if it’s out of order. No room for perfectionism here.

“I’m writing a first draft and reminding myself that I’m simply shoveling sand into a box so that later I can build castles.”
― Shannon Hale

You might be freaking out right now because you’re probably a perfectionist and the idea of writing a messy draft is terrifying. Trust, me, I get it. It gets easier the more you do it.

Try these tips to get started if you’re just plain stuck.

Tips for writing your dump draft:

  • Try making a really loose outline of your article. It’s okay if the points are out of order. Edit later.
  • Freewrite on your topic for a few minutes.
  • Start in the middle or start with the steps. The hardest part of writing an article is just starting it, so skip that part! It’s a lot easier to write an intro and conclusion after you’ve written the bulk of the article, so jump right to the good stuff first.

After you’ve gotten the bulk of the post on paper, write a simple introduction and conclusion. Think of this like a school essay: the intro tells your reader what the post is about and what to expect. The conclusion just wraps things up. You can even reiterate the introduction and add a new thought to leave with your reader.

Remember, it’s okay if your dump draft sucks! It’s supposed to. You can edit later.

 

Step 2: Organize

So much of writing is just organization.

After I dump out all my thoughts, I start lumping them together in an order that makes sense.

To do this, read through your dump draft and move sentences or paragraphs around to group like topics with like topics. Ask yourself what your reader would need to learn first, second, and third, and put your thoughts in that order.

Chances are, your thoughts are already somewhat in order, but things might still need to get moved around. There will probably be holes in your thoughts and things might feel disconnected, but don’t worry. We’ll fix that in the next step.

 

Step 3: Edit and Revise

This could be two steps, but I tend to do them at the same time. Read through your text and continue organizing, but this is the part where you start filling in holes.

Do you need to explain something a bit more? Do need to cut any unnecessary or repetitive parts? Should you include more examples? Would something made more sense if you reworded it?

Flesh out and clean up any confusing or under-explained parts. When you think you’ve done a pretty good job, it’s a good idea to let someone else read it and make sure it makes sense.

 

Step 4: Final Proofread

When you feel like your article is almost ready, do at least one more read-through to check for misspellings, grammatical errors, punctuation or capitalization mistakes, or usage errors.

I suggest taking some time away from your post before doing your final proofread because after you’ve read something 576 times, you stop seeing errors like typos. (Trust me, I’ve learned this one the hard way.)

I usually proofread after editing, but I ALWAYS do another pass right before publishing or sending off a client piece, and I almost always catch something I missed on the first pass.

 

Writing a Blog Post Doesn’t Have to be Hard

If this process seems intimidating, that’s okay. Writing, like everything else, gets easier with practice.

Final tips:

  • Don’t edit while you draft.
  • Don’t skip the dump draft.
  • If the post doesn’t flow right, try moving sentences or paragraphs around.
  • Do a final proofread before publishing.

Lastly, have fun with it. I know that sounds super corny, but it’s true. If you let yourself enjoy the process, your words will flow more freely. Blogging is a marketing tool, but it can also be a beautiful creative outlet!

 

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