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6 Ways to Deal with Writer's Block

September 2, 2014

Writer's Block

Whether you’re a creative writer, a copywriter, or a small business owner acting as a copywriter for your own marketing materials, there are always days (or weeks) in which the creative spark never seems to fire. Writers block is something that can affect any writer, from the upcoming novice to the seasoned professional. Like any other writing-related annoyance, writer’s block can be overcome with the right combination of creative thinking and hard work. In this blog post, we’ll share six strategies to help you put pen to paper and start producing great copy again.

Read your favorite copywriters

From pioneers like Albert Lasker to today’s top online copywriters, sometimes the best source of inspiration is the work of a true master. Break your writer’s block by reading copy – or even creative writing – from some of the world’s best writers.

You don’t need an extensive library to see great copy in action. Navigate to Apple’s website and read their copy for the latest gadget or Volkswagen.com for the latest eco-friendly hatchback. Sometimes the best copywriting inspiration is digital.

Put yourself in your customer’s shoes

Many copywriters study their products in detail, all from the wrong perspective. It’s easy to describe an offer in terms that another marketer will understand, but much harder to effectively market it to a customer.

Instead of approaching your product from a small business owner or marketer's perspective, put yourself in your customer’s shoes and think about the questions they would ask you. Then, put pen to paper and answer their questions before they can ask them in your copy.

Study what your competitors are doing

When he was designing the original Macintosh PC in the 1980s, Apple cofounder Steve Jobs liked to quote a possibly apocryphal statement by Pablo Picasso: “Good artists copy; great artists steal.

Putting the quote into practice, Jobs and his team took the best parts of what their competitors were offering and mixed them with their own innovations, creating an end product that was better than anything else on the market.

It’s never good to steal from your competitors, especially when it comes to creative things like sales copy. But don’t be afraid of looking at what they’re doing and using it as a source of creative inspiration.

Use the spray and pray writing method

Here’s a great way to overcome writer’s block, especially if you’re struggling with the first sentence of a sales page or direct mail postcard: Write down 10-20 lines, each marketing your product from a different angle, in quick succession.

By forcing yourself to think on your feet and crank out copy at an incredible speed, you’ll churn out a lot of garbage copy. You might, however, come up with an idea or two that’s perfect your next small business postcard marketing campaign.

Find inspiration in your environment

Are you struggling to think of copy for a product or service you know well? Force yourself into creative mode by writing copy for products you don’t know very well by using your immediate environment.

Here’s a fun exercise: find an item that’s within 5-10 feet of your desk and write a paragraph of compelling, persuasive copy about it. Once you’re finished, look for a new item and repeat the process. When you’re finished, repeat again.

Like the spray and pray writing method above, this strategy forces you to think on your feet and get outside your comfort zone. Once you’ve written your inspiration copy based on nearby items, start working on your real postcard or sales letter.

Use, reuse and reuse your product again

The more familiar you are with your product or service, the more skilled you’ll be at finding unique angles to market it from. Because of this, a great way to overcome the writer’s block so many copywriters deal with is by using your product.

Remember that episode of Seinfeld where Elaine struggled to think up copy for her company’s unique Himalayan walking boots? It wasn’t until she was forced to wear them herself on a cold walk home that she discovered the perfect sales pitch.

A cursory glance at your product or service’s benefits list isn’t enough to know its value on a deep level. Use and reuse it yourself and you’ll quickly discover a great angle or two that you can use in your copy.