As a seasoned copywriter well knows, writer’s block is a nightmare. You’re on a deadline, you have three articles due by the end of the week, and you’re desperately trying to find another way of saying ‘engage your audience’, for risk of sounding like a broken record for the fifth time.
The more you try to push through it, the more it stops you from getting your content written, so take heed of these handy tips to overcome the dreaded block:
1. Take a break
Sometimes, no amount of staring at a screen, scrolling through dictionary.com or mind-searching will lead to that perfect sentence you need. Accept it. Make a cup of tea, change tasks, tidy your desk. Headspace away from your work always gives a better perspective when you come back to it. After all, no-one ever thinks their first-draft copy is faultless.
Equally, I don’t recommend passing your valuable writing time watching 3 hours of Kardashian videos either, or the 5pm fear will hit you square in the jaw, followed by the 5.03pm double espresso that you really shouldn’t have had.
There’s a happy writers’ medium.
2. Find Inspiration
In our office, we have some pretty well-curated bookshelves. My favourite thing to do is to find the most irrelevant book for the task in hand – flower arranging techniques anyone? – and sit down and read a few pages. Vocabulary, sentence structure, even imagery can inspire you to find the words you’re looking for. The benefit of taking yourself out of the assignment context takes the pressure off and allows your mind to actually explore its own creativity.
3. Play dumb
It’s not often I’d advocate this in the workplace, but pretending you know nothing about your subject and trying to explain it to yourself can really help your copy structure. Better still, explain it to a colleague and see if they understand what you’re trying to get across. Once you’ve got the bones of your copy down, you can go about making it sound pretty.
4. Put. The Thesaurus. Down.
Believe you me, readers can tell who has been playing thesaurus bingo in no time, and it doesn’t make for good reading. If you wouldn’t say it, don’t write it (as a general, but loose rule).
Yes, copy should be eloquent and verbose but it shouldn’t be circumlocutory, magniloquent or periphrastic. Readers relate to the tone of your copy, and throwing in the odd sesquipedalianism isn’t going to help. Letting your writing flow naturally will be a much better reflection of you, the company your writing for, and the message you’re trying to convey.