Fear not, dear reader. I’m here to share my certified Blank Page Busters!
Before we start, I want to ask you one simple question. WHY are you stuck?
Picture yourself in blank page hell.
Let me guess why you are there.
- Your stomach is churning. You’ve left this to the last minute.
- You’re tired, hungry, dehydrated, distracted, uncomfortable or fidgety.
- To be honest, you just don’t want to write this. It’s BORING.
- You’ve just seen the most intriguing Instagram story and you want to go back and watch more.
- You’re actually thinking about what you have to buy for dinner tonight.
- Your phone is sitting next to your laptop. (Face down, of course.)
Do you see a pattern here? It’s all about mindset. Not the deadline, not the content. The only way you are going to move forward is to shift into writing mode.
As soon as I find myself in blank page hell, I don’t stay there and torture myself. I get up. I play music and jump about, I go for a walk, go and stand outside with the sun on my back. Getting active will break that feeling of being stuck but beware, do not use a device!
This will help your mindset, but if you want a fail-safe plan to follow every time, here are my eight tried and true blank page buster tips!
- Start with a basic plan. Jot down the main idea you want to get across and a few facts, to give you a basic ‘writing roadmap’. Use pencil and paper for added impact – old school works best.
- Make it valuable. We all know most audiences have the attention span of a gnat. How will your piece help your audience and keep their interest?
- Write to a person. Picture the face of a person who will read your written piece in your head. I use this technique all the time. It’s effective because BOOM – you’re now writing to an audience, not to a faceless blank page! You’ll immediately find it easier to write in a more engaging, conversational style – and to the right person.
- Get rid of distractions. Turn off your phone, close your emails, turn off notifications and if you can, close the door. If you are constantly interrupted, your page will stay blank!
- Begin anywhere. Don’t try and come up with the perfect first line. Just begin by writing whatever comes into your head, then build and refine. The quality of the writing doesn’t matter at first. It’s about getting started.
- Write in short bursts. You’ll stay focussed and achieve more. Try the Pomodoro Technique – it’s one of my favourite tools to get things done.
- Check your spelling. It might seem obvious, but so many people forget this simple step.
- Read it aloud. Yes, you might feel silly. But it’s the quickest way to make sure your written piece hits the mark. Try it!
- Seek constructive, but kind criticism. Ask someone else to read your piece. An extra set of eyes is always helpful, but you need someone who will encourage you, not overuse their red pen.
Of course, if you’d rather outsource your writing task, I’d love to hear from you!
This post was written by Anne George, the founder of Word and Web.