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Marketing / Business writing

Overcoming writer’s block: four more tips

Tired of staring at that irritating, flashing cursor? Here are four strategies which will help you with overcoming writer's block.

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1. Brainstorm – and record – your thoughts

Whether you have too much information or too little, brainstorming can bring your words to life.

Even if you don’t have the key points in mind, it can spark the ideas you need in order to write. And if you do have some amazing ideas, brainstorming can help organise the chaos in your head. It will give you some real words that you can then arrange logically.

By writing words and phrases randomly and then linking them into a ‘map’, you can virtually write your piece through the brainstorm. ‘Mind mapping’ can help you:

  • Think through issues;
  • Summarise information;
  • Present that information in a structured format.

Once you have some words and phrases to work with, you can start to cluster them; circle the words that relate to one another and then connect them with a line.

What does your map tell you? Explore your options and get your draft going! Write some sentences or even paragraphs to expand on your clusters. Keep building from there. You don’t have to start at the beginning and your first draft doesn’t need to be perfect.

2. Break

Take your mind off writing for a few minutes. If you’ve been writing – or staring at your screen – for half an hour or more, take a break!

"If you’ve been writing – or staring at your screen – for half an hour or more, take a break!"

Clear your mind: go for a walk; meditate; get a cup of tea. Sometimes overcoming writer’s block can be this simple.

If you ‘don’t have time’ for a break, move on to another project. Taking your mind away from the task at hand is a break in itself. You’ll come back more refreshed and inspired.

Want more articles like this? Check out the business writing section.

3. Keep it short and simple

We’re all guilty of overcomplicating things by using big words to sound impressive, for example, or longer sentences to explain a point. This can result in ambiguous, convoluted and confusing messages.

Insert a couple of commas, a full stop or two and suddenly your statement makes a lot more sense to you and your reader.

It was drummed into me as a cadet journalist to write as I would for an eight-year-old. If you keep your words and sentences short and simple, you’ll find your writing is not only easier to understand, but also has more punch, polish and professionalism.

You understand your product or service better than most so you need to keep your messages simple and clear.

Techniques to improve clarity include chunking, whereby you present information as small pieces or ‘chunks’ to make reading and comprehension faster and easier – this is especially useful for web content, which readers tend to scan.

Sub-headings are helpful as they enable readers to scan your text until they find the keyword they’re searching for. If it is visually pleasing, a reader is more likely to start – and finish – reading your material.

Bullet points also make it easier to scan a page, and make reading lists a breeze. They’re also great to highlight key points.

4. Go to the toilet!

Not only will you get a break, it also will relax you. Relaxation is the key to excelling at most things in life – writing is no different!

I was given this tip by an ABC reporter when I was studying… and it works!

What tips do you have for overcoming writer’s block? Share them below.

Caroline McDevitt

works with businesses to make their voice heard through superior written communication, and her new Writewords Writewell courses give you the skills to write with confidence.

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