If your job requires any type of content creation, you’ve probably experienced writer’s block at one point.
This productivity killer affects us all. Even great writers suffer through it.
A recent Hubspot presentation outlined some tips on how to tackle this debilitating problem. Here are 10 tips from the presentations and my take on them.
1. Create an editorial calendar — and stick to it.
If you’re not sure what to write about, an editorial calendar keeps you on track.
I’d also suggest using Evernote or another similar app where you can jot down ideas on the go. Good ideas can come at random times.
Also, have a handful of backup topics at any given time. Pin future topic ideas on a Pinterest board, or bookmark recent infographics and Slideshare presentations that have caught your eye. These are all possible sources of content you can write about.
2. Refine your title to make it more specific.
I find writing less intimidating if the topic is focused. Generality is the writer’s block’s best friend.
Also, keep your target audience in mind. If necessary, create brand personas. Addressing a specific person’s question or issue is easier and often results to more interesting content.
3. Set a deadline.
As part of the interview process for my current job as a Social Media Marketing Assistant, I had to do a two-hour exam that included drafting a blog post about a topic I had very little knowledge of: market research. The exam was stressful, but what I produced actually wasn’t bad. The process I went through didn’t change, but the deadline kept me focused.
Hubspot also recommends the ‘laptop trick’, a technique that involves unplugging your laptop, going to a quiet room and getting rid of distractions.
4. Write like you speak.
For my music blog, I can usually cook up a song review in less than 10 minutes. Granted, the content is a lot lighter, but one reason I’m able to do so is because I write like I speak.
One word of advice about this tip: You still need to proofread after to get rid of typos and grammatical errors.
5. Work on the intro last.
Although I hate writing intros (and would rather skip them altogether), they play a huge role in enticing your readers. A succinct, punchy intro doesn’t always come quickly though, so if you must, skip it and save it for later.
No worries; your intro will come to you — eventually.
6. Crowdsource examples.
To establish credibility, you need to provide at least a few examples. If you can’t come up with a few, ask for help.
Of course, if you end up using someone else’s example, don’t forget to credit and thank them.
7. Log out of Twitter.
And Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Tumblr, etc. Let’s face it — social media (especially Twitter) is awesome, but it’s also a distraction!
Another time suck? Your email, so try turning it off while working on your content.
8. Book a meeting with yourself.
I love Hubspot’s advice on blocking time off to write. This ensures that your co-workers don’t distract you. It also forces you to sit down and actually write.
9. Break huge content into smaller chunks.
“Heavy” content is the future of content marketing, according to Kissmetrics, and so you may need to write long pieces of content regularly. If you do, write in smaller chunks. This will make the task more manageable.
10. Create content for an audience you can influence.
You may think that you’re not an expert, but you can always find a group that is less experienced that you. This audience is usually keen to learn.
For example, I am still a relatively new marketer, so a huge chunk of my content here is meant for students. That’s okay; when I get more experience, I’ll start writing for VPs, CMOs, and CEOs someday.
Of course, eventually, you want to start creating content for a more experienced crowd. Until then, don’t let what you perceived to be a lack of experience act as an excuse.
Bonus tip about writer’s block
Okay, here’s a tip I’d add to Hubspot’s list: Take a short break.
No, I am not contradicting the tip about avoiding distractions. You can try all 10 tips listed above, but in some cases, you really just need a break. Your brain isn’t a machine, and creativity takes time sometimes. You can’t force genius, right?
For more tips on battling writer’s content, check out Hubspot’s Slideshare below or read the original blog post.
If you have any tips about combatting writer’s block, please leave them below. I could always use more tips to try!