Said the voice inside my head. Ever sit down to write and go completely blank? Absolutely nothing comes to mind, or at least nothing that seems relevant or worth writing about. Zip, zero, zilch, zippo…you got nothin’. But content is KING right? Especially when it comes to copywriting for websites, social media and search engine optimization.
I’ve read numbers that are all over the map. Some recommend posting 300 – 400 words daily, while other suggest adding 3,000 words of relevant and indexable content each month is the magic number. But what do you do when trying to write even 100 words is like giving birth to an adolescent hippo.
So if your ink well is running dry and writing that next blog post is taking away your will to live, here are a few of my favorite tactics for getting the creative juices flowing and the keyboard hopping.
Have a plan
One of the first and seemingly obvious steps when writing (to avoid staring endlessly at your computer screen) is to figure out what you want to write about before sitting down to write. Going in cold to a writing session will almost always end poorly. While you don’t need a super specific topic, you should at least have some kind of theme or point you want to get across to your readers. Kind of hard to get rolling when you really didn’t nail down a place you want to start. A bullet point brain dump usually helps me to whittle my way down to something I want to write about.
Write about what you know and like
Nothing is more difficult than writing about a topic that you find boring. And it’s even harder to write about things that you know little to nothing about. Sure, you can do lots of research and pirate someone else’s ideas and concepts – but articles and blog posts are always better when written from first person experience. Readers want to know the writer’s own thoughts and feelings on a topic. Don’t try to write an article on the properties of CSS background imagery if you are not a developer and would be just talking out of your back-side. Do write about your experience and frustrations with poor customer service if that’s what’s on your mind. And for the love of all things holy, hopefully what you know is also something people find interesting.
Although reading works of other authors is an obvious place to start, real and personal inspiration can be found listening to music, walking through an art gallery or dining at a new restaurant. Be aware and open to your surroundings. Emotions – good, bad or indifferent – can be spawned by just soaking up your environment. Simply telling a story in your own voice based on your own experience can be very engaging to your readers. And just let the words flow. You never know when you are going to create something valuable and useful to people. And when it’s not – that’s what the delete button is for. Even decent writers will hammer out considerable crap now and then – yours truly included.
The big thing I find about copywriting is you need a good starting point and you need momentum. Don’t sit down at the keyboard early morning after a late night of slamming Heinekens. At least for me, a clear head is a must (apologies to Hunter Thompson and Ernest Hemingway).
And when you do finally get rolling, try to eliminate any possible distractions. Writing is like romance. Avoid word-flow-interruptis at all costs. Total mood killer. Trying to pick up where you left off when it was a struggle to get going in the first place is über uncool. And it could do a number on your confidence for the next writing session too – so lock the doors, turn off the phones and give yourself a healthy dose of “me time”. You’ll be glad you did. Happy writing!