Writer’s Block. These are two little words that need no explanation because everyone has experienced the dreaded WB at some point — even professional copywriters whose living depends on their ability to produce elegant words and sentences that pack a punch. (Wink, wink.)
Part of the problem with writer’s block is the pressure to produce. But the pressure to move fast can stifle creativity and prevent clarity. Frustration ensues, anxiety mounts, and the self-defeating cycle begins.
The best way to solve writer’s block is to give yourself time and space to mull things over. You need space away from client meetings, emails, social media notifications, and mounting to-do lists to really think about what you want to accomplish and how your writing will do that.
But let’s be honest with each other here — as a mom to little ones, I don’t have extra hours in the day. My mornings are a whirlwind of finding left shoes, packing lunches, and trying to remember not to leave my coffee thermos on the roof of the car (again.) My client-side projects pack a lot of work into quick time frames because I like staying in the flow with one client voice at a time instead of trying to code-switch.
So, I’ve had to get really creative in finding ways to reset and recalibrate my mind when brand clarity and compelling copywriting feel impossible. As someone who literally writes for her supper, finding ways to pull myself out of a rut has been an essential part of running my business.
Here are 7 things you can do to banish writer’s block and get brand clarity.
(So you can write the dang thing, and move on!)
1) Take the pressure off — don’t attempt to write something in one sitting.
Just because the course you purchased or template you downloaded says you can write an entire website in a day, doesn’t mean you should.
If staring down a blinking cursor is enough to discourage you from starting, remember, it’s called a FIRST draft. Think of your first draft as a brain dump — write out your incomplete or half-baked thoughts, use bullet points, and make lists. Don’t worry about grammar and punctuation, just put the proverbial pen to paper and then walk away.
I swear by leaving a hot mess of a draft to stew in my subconscious overnight. I always come back with fresh eyes and a better understanding of where I need to move things, why something’s just not working and how to fix it. Seriously, try it. It’s my #1 go-to when I just can’t.
2) Make it visual
Step away from the laptop — better yet, close it and move to somewhere you can’t see it. Sure, there’s an app for everything and there are lots of visual “tools” to help you brainstorm, but at the end of the day, these tools keep you inside your head where you might be triggering unproductive thought patterns over and over again.
(This is that “stuck” feeling you get and it’s a real creativity killer.)
I love getting down on the floor and drawing a mind map of my thoughts. Sometimes, if I know I’m going to need to move ideas around and see where they fit, I’ll sit on the floor and go wild with colored sticky notes, arranging and rearranging them like a puzzle.
There’s no wrong way to strategize visually, but the key is to put your unedited, super rough thoughts somewhere where you can see them reflected back at you. Just getting things “out” of your head, so you can *see* what’s going on can pave the way toward clarity.
3) Book yourself as a client
As much as you love serving those who need you, you need to carve out time to serve your own business too. Trying to jump from a client call straight into a writing project for your business can be a real code-switch fail.
Book yourself for a full day, at a minimum, and a week if you can swing it financially. Batch your writing, so you’re only tackling similar formats — email marketing copy on Monday, website and About page updates on Tuesday, etc. This way, when you sit down to write, you’re in the right frame of mind, the pressure is off, you’ve got the time and space you need to really think about what it is you need to convey through your words, and you can step away from the screen to meditate on an idea without feeling crunched for time.
4) Listen to a guided meditation
I’m currently obsessing over Tara McMullin’s 5-Day Morning Reset aimed specifically at entrepreneurs who are trying to do it all. (Yup, and yes, please.)
It doesn’t have to be long — pop in your earbuds for 5-10 minutes before diving into your next task to clear your mind and bring you back to center.
I know it sounds a little woo, but if you’ve ever reached the end of the day and thought, “what did I actually do today?”, I can’t recommend this practice enough. The goal at the end of the day is to feel like you did one thing that moved you forward toward your goal.
Taking a moment to pause and shut out all the distractions pulling your attention toward what others want and need instead of what you want and need can mean the difference between “doing all the things” and “doing the necessary things”.
5) Book a weekend staycation at a nearby hotel
This is a tip that came from my career coach friend and a fellow business baddie who’s also juggling entrepreneurship with wee ones at home. Once a quarter she books a Sunday-Monday stay at a nearby hotel (when prices are cheaper) and treats herself to takeout over post-it note brainstorming and journaling.
You don’t have to be a parent to reap the benefits of the creativity that seems to flow when working in a novel environment. I recently stayed at a cute boutique hotel in Newport, RI, and walked away from my stay with a completely fleshed-out outline for one of my digital products. (Something I struggled to find the time and clarity to do for months.)
6) Go for a run/power-walk
Look, I know this one sounds obvi, but the combination of getting outdoors (and out of your office) + exposing yourself to new stimuli + fortifying your brain with increased blood circulation = a rut-busting equation that lightens my mood and lets my subconscious work out a problem while I admire all the cute dogs in my neighborhood.
7) Rearrange your office
I told you this list would be creative! If you haven’t caught on yet, receiving new stimuli is the key to stopping your thought patterns from running into a brick wall over and over again.
Move your desk so when you’re looking up from your computer you see something new. Windows provide a lovely viewpoint but large printed artwork or painting a wall a new color is also a great way to change things up and add something new of interest to your environment.
Style your bookcase or the top of a side table with items you love and that reflect your brand. I keep my pens in the same mason jars I use to make my iced coffee every morning and I’ve painted an accent wall a navy blue that matches my brand colors.
Walking into my office, especially when I’m returning from a reset walk, gives my brain the signal that it’s time to work — and I don’t dread it because I’ve created a comfortable, and interesting space to do it in.