The Coffey Blog
Have a Great Workday! Breaking through writer's block
Writer's block. It happens to the best of us.
Does this sound familiar? You stare at the screen, fingers poised above the keys—and you don't know what to write. Or maybe you know what you want to say—you have important healthcare marketing messages to share, of course. But you can't come up with the words. It's as if they've been hijacked somewhere between your brain and your hands.
When faced with writer's block, many of us respond by staring ever more intently at the screen. That's the wrong thing to do. No matter how tightly you squint your eyes or clench your jaw, you cannot force the words to appear.
Write on! 7 go-to tips to get unstuck
Try one or more of these strategies the next time you encounter a writing roadblock:
1. Get up. Walk away. Don't think about writing. Your best option, if possible: Take a quick walk outdoors. Breathe in fresh air. Let your mind wander. That's a funny thing about your brain. It feels like you're taking a break, but your intuitive subconscious can be busy processing, making connections and helping you find those elusive words.
"Don't waste time waiting for inspiration. Begin, and inspiration will find you." —H. Jackson Brown Jr.
2. Just start. Some call it freewriting. Give yourself 15 minutes to write something, anything. Don't stop to weigh every word. Sometimes that's all it takes to open the gates. And as any wordsmith knows, great writing is almost always in the rewriting anyway.
"Writing about writer's block is better than not writing at all." —Charles Bukowski
3. Look for inspiration. Maybe you need to write a promo about a new service line or benefit program. Look at well-done ads in magazines for strategies. How are they appealing to consumers? Or perhaps you're ghostwriting a letter from your CEO. Read previous missives, and think about how you might improve upon them to fire up your creativity.
"Writing is a struggle against silence." —Carlos Fuentes
4. Doodle. Jot down words, phrases, even pictures. Going to paper and pen—and freeing yourself from the screen—may spark the ideas and vision you need to start writing.
5. Call on a colleague. Talking through what you're struggling with—and bouncing ideas around—could be the jump start you need.
6. Revisit some of your own work. Pick something you wrote that you felt good about. See? You know how to do this.
"The art of writing is the art of applying the seat of the pants to the seat of the chair." —Mary Heaton Vorse
7. Enlist the power of a firm deadline. Is a writing task hanging over your head with a loose time frame? That can make it too easy to dither and delay—until suddenly it's urgent and you're really scrambling or it just never gets done. Give yourself a deadline to complete a first draft, and block off time to work on it. Then set it aside and give yourself a new deadline to go back to it and polish it up.
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