In a world where content rules as the king of inbound, the pressure to offer your customers exciting and engaging content as part of your website content strategy – whether that’s in your website copy, in blogs, or even in videos – has been ramped up more highly than ever before. And there’s nothing worse than being all too aware of this pressure, but simply finding yourself staring at a blank document, unable to get any words out, let alone coherent sentences.
Welcome to the hurdle that is writer’s block.
What is writer’s block, and why does it happen?
Writer’s block is defined by Google’s dictionary as “the condition of being unable to think of what to write or how to proceed with writing.” It’s typically associated with authors and poets, but can happen to anyone - it is an especially common occurrence for content creators!
Writer’s block can arise for a number of different reasons, including:
As a content creator, you are probably required to write on an almost daily basis, and suffer writing fatigue as a result. This works much in the same way as exercise; going to the gym regularly is great for building muscle and physical skill, but do it too often and you can crash from exhaustion.
Plenty of psychologists have looked into whether there’s a link between brain make-up and neurological activity on writer’s block. According to writer and neurologist Alice W. Flaherty, literary creativity can be attributed to different parts of the brain, and writer’s block can occur when brain activity is disrupted in those parts. Similarly, Neuroscientist Michael Grybko says: “[...] Activity in one area of the brain may affect another area in a negative way. Our emotions can have an impact on our productivity and learning … When activity in the area of the brain that is responsible for processing the information needed to write effectively is altered, the result may be writer’s block.”
More likely than not, most of your writing tasks will take place in your office (I am, for example, writing this at the Angelfish Hub!). And with offices come distractions! The noise from a radio, catching up with colleagues, admin tasks in between... and with our phones pinging incessantly with texts and notifications from social media, it’s easy to see why writers find themselves unable to focus.
Lack of interest or understanding
As a writer, you might find yourself commissioned to write about topics that you may never have heard of, don’t understand especially well, or - worst-case scenario - have little interest in. And inevitably, this is going to make it difficult to pen words to paper! In a similar vein:
You may be feeling particularly anxious about writing on a certain topic; either due to the lack of interest or understanding as mentioned above, but also because perhaps you are very interested in the topic and are worried about getting the wrong end of the stick, or you’re (rightly) conscious that you want to get the content spot-on for your client.
How can you banish writer’s block?
Get rid of any distractions
First things first, make sure you are in an environment where you’re able to concentrate on your writing task to the best of your ability. If there’s a separate room in your office for quiet work away from colleagues and radio, take advantage of it - and leave your phone at your usual desk so you’re not tempted to look at it!
Take some time to research your topic
When you’re writing on a topic that you don’t know much about, it’s a good idea to set aside some time to research it; the greater understanding you have of a topic, the sooner the writing process will start to kick in. In fact, even if you feel like you know your topic well, researching it in depth is still essential - you might learn something new, or be able to take your content away from your traditional style and down a different route. Most importantly, however, an in-depth exploration of your topic clusters will ignite your SEO!
Put yourself in the shoes of the content’s recipient
There’s nothing like a bit of role-playing to inspire your content - because, ultimately, placing yourself in the shoes of the people you’re creating the content for will give you a whole new perspective to write from! Developing buyer personas is a great way to do this, as it’ll help you to fully visualise and understand their pain points, interests and more. As a result, your content will be more relevant and relate-able to your target audience, and significantly more successful for your website content strategy!
Inspire yourself with other content - including your competitors!
The internet offers a plethora of brilliant content, and chances are that someone else will have written about your topic, whether directly or indirectly. If you’re looking to get the creative juices flowing, this content can be especially useful. And if you happen to stumble across content from your competitors? Think about ways that you can write about the topic better!
Take breaks to focus on other things
Taking short and regular breaks is important for productivity in any situation, but it’s especially important when writing content. Specifically, incubation (dipping back into psychology for a moment) is one of four theorised stages of problem-solving and creativity, where, when you take a break from the task your currently working on to focus on something different, your brain will subconsciously work on the problem for you, and you’ll suddenly get the inspiration you need at a later time. According to researchers Sio & Ormerod in their article Does incubation enhance problem-solving? A meta-analytic review, “Incubation substantially increases the chances of solving a problem, and benefits from long incubation periods with low cognitive workloads.” So by taking regular breaks, you’re more likely to negate the effects of writer’s block!
Sometimes the best inspiration comes from opening a blank document or page of a notebook and smashing out any old nonsense to see what happens - this is known by many writers as forced writing, and though it might seem a little unconventional, if you’re really struggling for inspiration, there’s no harm in giving it a go!
At the end of the day, we don’t think something like writer’s block should get in the way of a good website content strategy. If you’re looking for inspiration for your current web content, book your free content review with our team today.