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Content Marketing  |   Careers in Inbound

How to Overcome Writer's Block (8 Techniques & a Free Guide)

Rachel Palmateer

By Rachel Palmateer

Oct 29, 2018

How to Overcome Writer's Block (8 Techniques & a Free Guide)

“Chain that muse to your desk and get the job done.”
- Barbara Kingsolver

Suffering from writer’s block?

Preemptively looking for ways to prevent writer’s block because it always comes for you?

Already pulled out all of your hair, chewed your nails down to stubs and knocked out the work but hate it and still feel the need to start over?

I can’t help you get your nails back, but I can say that you’re not alone.

All writers have a tough time with the craft now and again. For those of us writing and  in the marketing sphere, the pressure to produce is particularly high.

Forget the existential fear of the blank page that plagues poets, we marketers have metrics to drive and timelines to meet and customers to please.

New data from Quick Sprout has revealed that 96% of B2B buyers are looking to consume content from industry leaders.

No pressure, right? Just become an industry leader overnight and start banging out top-notch content like crazy.

Easy to say, tricky to do.

Let's start by discussing some of the common causes of writer's block:

Fear: Many people, whether they realize it or not, are simply afraid of taking their ideas and putting them into words for everyone to see and critique.  

Timing: It simply may not be the best time for you to write. Perhaps your mood is off, your ideas may need to mature a bit more, or you simply just aren't equipped with all the information you need.

Your Expectations are Too High - a.k.a. Perfectionism: From your mindset when you sit down to write and crafting the perfect catchy title to mastering the on-page SEO, you want everything to be just right, and this is all before you even start thinking about the actual content or pressing the publish button!

You're Burnt Out: If you are tapped out, whether it be physically, mentally, emotionally (or all of the above), your brain just isn't going to have the gusto to create good content. 

You're Too Distracted: You've got noise in the background, co-workers bustling around you, kids who need your time. or just other responsibilities and pressures that are occupying your attention.

So, if you’ve been tasked with bolstering blog content for your brand but writer’s block is sitting on your keyboard and playing a tiny violin, take a read through the following ideas to see if you can jumpstart your creative process.

1. Turn to Your Content Strategy

Before any real writing happens, make sure you have a strategy in place. This is always and forever step one.

Blogging for business is not the same as posting the recipes you’ve had and liked over the last week. You have personas to consider, you have goals and metrics to drive towards, you have CTAs and pillar pages to work into the mix.

The more you can plan your content, the easier it will be to choose a topic and run with it while writer’s block is off napping somewhere. And - apparently - you’ll be leagues above the competition.

Here’s a shocking stat that’s reassuring if you do have a content plan already in place: 61% of marketers still either don’t have a strategy or don’t have it written down.

If you’re part of this majority of content-strategy-free marketers, it’s time to make another cup of coffee and get that strategy in place.

A couple of quick strategy tips:

  • Consider the platforms that your readers will likely read and/or share your content on. Make sure sharing is easy and make sure you’re posting your content when your readers are looking for it.

  • Keep your keywords front-of-mind. 87% of B2B information seekers use search engines to discover new business content. Get your keyword strategy aligned with and integrated into your content strategy from the beginning for easier execution while drafting and easier searching for your audience.

2. Think Visually, Think Infographics

We’re all familiar with infographics - those snazzy, quick-to-read art pieces with little bits of information that keeps our 7-second attention spans happy.

But why do we love infographics so much? According to data from Quick Sprout, our brains process images 60,000 times faster than words and 65% of people are visual learners.

In our visual-forward world (think marketing and sales videos, Instagram, Snapchat, etc.), we need to be thinking visually, even when we’re conveying ideas through words and blog posts.

This may mean featuring an infographic and providing commentary that’s customized for your audience and provides a new perspective on the data.

This may mean thinking like an infographic when you’re outlining your content.

What are the little bits of information that you want to cover with this post? How do they add up to the larger story that you’re trying to tell?

Remember to keep things simple, cite your data, and stay original.

(And don’t get lost in a sea of infographics and forget to start writing!)

3. Customer Questions are Your Friends

When you’re unsure about what to cover with a specific blog post topic, remember that you have a wealth of topics on your social channels, FAQs page, and various customer touch points throughout your business.

If customers are asking questions about it, wrap it into a blog post.  They Ask, You Answer.

Once you’ve covered the top questions that you receive directly, ask your sales team about common objections that they see during the selling process and discuss what kind of content could help overcome those objections.

Also, don’t forget to check out industry forums and see what questions are being asked and answered there.

With a blog post that answers a common question, you can visit forums and link to your post when you answer - thus building the “industry leader” status that we’re all aiming for when writing content.

Remember to always look through the lens of your target persona.

Maybe these questions aren’t something that you’d come up with, but if you put yourself in your persona’s shoes you might find new topics to focus on.

4. Watch a Webinar or Listen to a Podcast

When writer’s block brings you a breakfast burrito to eat instead of getting started on your first draft, maybe join a webinar or listen to a podcast for some inspiration.

First, start with those within your industry.

While you’re listening, take note of how the tone, speed of content delivery, and language used might work well if used in your blog post. Be careful not to parrot back the content you’ve heard instead of writing your own thoughts.

Second, check out some publications that are out of your immediate industry.

Watch something short that helps to relieve the immediate pressure of writer’s block - something to get you to laugh or something to pull out as a fun fact at this year’s holiday party.

Alternatively, watch something that’s challenging and full of technical jargon that makes you think in a different way.

Is there something from this entirely unrelated industry that can help inform your delivery, pacing, word choices to boost the creativity of your post once you start drafting?

4. Make a List (or Seventeen)

People love lists. (I mean, you’re reading one of sorts right now.)

They’re quick to read, segmented information snippets that get their point across quickly and they can apply across all industries and personas.

There are to-do lists, not-to-do lists, pros and cons lists, top 5 lists, most popular lists, top-performing lists, all-time worst lists, and countless more.

Consider lists the next time you’re drafting an article. Focus on your keyword, choose a topic, and write out your key points, or list items, that you want to include.

Have fun with it, keep your persona in mind, and maintain your brand voice.

5. Compare and Contrast 

Comparisons are great because they give you a guide for drafting your post and they do the heavy lifting for the reader.

You can compare and contrast similar services or products, review plan types and pricing for different consumer needs or personas, or focus on before and after comparisons, especially in regard to industry regulations or new technology that’s hitting the market.

When writing a comparison blog post, use it to call out industry similarities or stark differences. If you’re going for funny or casual or it’s April Fools Day, get a little weird but wrap on a serious note - this is a business blog post after all.

Don’t get too deep into selling the reader on one side of the comparison. You want to be unbiased. 

The information you’re presenting in your post is a valuable piece of information to help the reader, not to shove them into a funnel (or onto a flywheel).

It’s all about helping the reader make informed decisions, which will ultimately result in more qualified leads for your business, as you’ll have weeded out those who are more attracted to a different service or product.

If you’re not sure where to start with your comparison topics, check out Google Trends.

6. Look for Success Stories

Success stories are a great way to celebrate good client/customer experiences, reveal the hard work that your team put into making it happen, and demonstrate that similar results can be achieved for prospective customers.

Remember that readers aren’t just reading for someone else's good fortune, they’re getting a taste of the success they can expect when engaging with your brand.

If you have a success story that helps to support your answers on your FAQs page or helps to empower your sales team, make sure that the post gets added to the proper places so that future readers can easily find it.

7. Ask Yourself, "What's Changed?"

The world is always changing and I'm sure your industry is as well, whether it be through legislation, competition, or especially technology. 

With 45% of B2B audiences primarily looking at content to help them stay up with the latest technology trends, there is endless opportunity for writing new and engaging content.

So, jump in and distill it for your customers and readers.

Discuss the new technologies through the lens of your business or your industry.

  • What new technology are you using in your services or product offerings and bringing to consumers?

  • What new technology are you not going to be using at the moment and why?

  • From a technology standpoint, what is your business looking forward to or concerned about?

  • What is your industry or are your customers looking forward to or concerned about?

  • What solutions do you have to help speed access to new technology or to help those who are concerned feel less so?

This type of post might require more research and more interviewing of your team for information, but it will be potent content to offer your audience.

8. Try Some Free-writing

Instead of cold-turkey forcing yourself to sit down for hours to write, try building up to it by spending at least 15 minutes a day writing whatever comes off the top of your head. It doesn't have to be polished or even have punctuation or correct grammar.

Doing this stress-free form of writing allows your brain to work without expectations, enabling you to tap into your creative side faster.

Try doing this for a few weeks before your next writing assignment.

Short on time? Prior to starting your next piece, try free-writing for 15-20 minutes, then getting into the nitty-gritty of your actual assignment.

If you’ve tried out the 8 tips above and you’re still feeling blocked, remember not to give up.

Pop up for a quick walk, get that cup of coffee, and then sit and commit. Tell three people about it so that you feel socially obligated to get through it. And go.

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How does your sales & marketing measure up?
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