“Writing about writer’s block is better than not writing at all.” — Charles Bukowski
Why “I can’t write” doesn’t fly
Writing is one of the most deceivingly difficult tasks imaginable. Second only to making a perfect hollandaise sauce, we’re pretty sure.
As a small business owner that specializes in a particular service or product, you would think that years of experience would provide an endless supply of writing material…which it does. So why does blogging seem like such a task? How do you beat writer’s block?
Because our brains are hardwired to think that writing is dangerous.
Seriously. When people think, “I can’t write,” it doesn’t mean they literally can’t use words to form sentences, sentences to form paragraphs, paragraphs to form a narrative. Everybody can do that, whether or not they acknowledge it. What they’re actually thinking is, “I’m afraid to write.” They fear that readers will pick apart what they write, or that they might break a rule about grammar and incur the wrath of the grammar police. Writer’s block preys upon that fear.
We blame grade school. Remember these things?
Sentence diagrams. Some of you just had a flood of childhood trauma rushing back. Some of you are feeling a little queasy. And a very small (and sick) percentage of you just got a warm, fuzzy feeling.
For those of us who get irrationally agitated at the thought of identifying subjects, compound predicates, indirect objects, reflexive pronouns, and those infuriating prepositional phrases, the sentence diagram is as good a scapegoat as any when figuring out why people say they can’t write.
Here’s the good news though. Being able to diagram a sentence isn’t the same as writing. So don’t let your second grade English class feed into your writer’s block. Stand up defiantly and shout, “Starting a sentence with ‘And’ or ‘But’ is perfectly acceptable!” Feels good, doesn’t it?
Writing is nothing to fear…great. I still have writer’s block
Everybody deals with writer’s block, and it’s more common than you think. The hardest part is getting started, but once you get that first paragraph on the screen, the rest just flows.
Keep it simple
Don’t feel like you have to cover every base in every blog. For the most part, blogs are supposed to be concise. Pick a singular topic that you can buttress with a half dozen bullet points and go from there.
Up to and including co-workers. And no, we don’t mean have them “removed.” Take your laptop and go find a nice quiet corner of the office where you can block out the ambient noise of the office. Don’t have a laptop? Try the analog method: get a notepad and a pen and go outside. No Wi-Fi needed!
If you’re stuck in a rut while writing some copy, loosen up by just writing nonsense. Make your client’s service or product the subject and just go freeform jazz with it. It really helps to get the creative juices flowing. Just make sure you don’t accidentally include your fun in the final draft.
Listen to music
Try to avoid this one, only because blocking out noise (ambient or in your head) with more noise can sometimes exacerbate the problem. But if you need some tunes, we recommend classical, jazz, or light instrumental. Nothing with lyrics – the words will only distract your train of thought.
Make a cup of coffee
Stand up, grab a mug, walk into the kitchen, pour the coffee into your mug, add some creamer, stir, and take a look out the window as you enjoy your first sip. Do all of this just to get your blood flowing. Talk to yourself about your blog while you do it. Once you have a breakthrough, try not to spill your coffee on yourself as you rush back to your desk to write.
Stop trying to write
Sometimes, people feel they have to lose their voice completely in their writing to make it seem more professional. In truth, when you cut yourself completely out of what you’re writing, your words come across as dry, sterile, empty, and about as dull as a dad with coffee breath explaining the finer points of tax write-offs. Write for you…just keep it clean.
Any don’t forget to proofread your work! Nothing kills a good read like a spelling mistache.