The dreaded writer’s block plagues every copywriter at some point in their life, so it’s natural to experience that sudden panic you forgot ALL the words. Luckily, I’ve successfully banished Blank Screen Betty countless times in my 15-year copywriting career, so I’ve picked up some handy hacks along the way. Here are my tips on how to beat writer’s block and become a brilliant copywriter.
This first tip on how to beat writer’s block may sound obvious, but to me, it’s actually the most valuable advice I’ve ever had.
All too often, freelance copywriters agonise over finding the perfect word or ideal opening paragraph, causing an avalanche of anxiety and self-doubt. The best way to banish this is by writing something, anything! As soon as you’ve overcome that blank Google Doc and got some words down, you have a foundation to work from and the words will flow.
Maybe you’ll end up replacing everything you wrote in that first draft (a writer I follow on Instagram, Laura Jane Williams, calls the first draft of each book the “trash draft” as it inevitably ends up relegated to the trash can). Perhaps you’ll improve on some of it and it will evolve into your finished edit. Or possibly, you’ll nail it first time when you forget your perfectionism and bang out something in a hurry.
The important thing is to start writing in the first place, as you can edit imperfect text, but you can’t edit a blank screen 😉
Set a timer
When researching copywriting tips, one I often see is to set a timer to beat writer’s block. If you want to get all fancy about it, there are apps, plugins and various other tools you can use to achieve this. Terrifyingly, Squibler’s The Most Dangerous Writing App is a free writing tool that deletes everything you’ve written if you stop typing. You can write in five-minute to one-hour slots, and it’s designed to boost productivity and help copywriters and authors overcome writer’s block.
However, if that’s a little extreme, you can always set a 10-minute timer on your phone and see how much you can get down in that time. Against the clock, you may well produce some of your best copywriting work. Or if nothing else, have a basis to start improving and editing.
Create a framework
For me, large copywriting projects can seem daunting until I break them down into smaller pieces.
If I’m tasked with producing the content for a website, for example, I will start by typing out titles for each page, then breaking down each page into sections with a header, body copy and call to action. As soon as I see each smaller task, I find it infinitely easier to get started because it suddenly seems far more achievable than a blank page with 25 web pages to create.
For blog copywriting, you could start by sectioning your blog into headers to build an idea of how you will format the article, and what you will include in each section.
Headers, titles and prompts instantly exterminate the blank page and distract you from any worries about the task in hand, leaving you with a manageable framework to work from.
Cut out distractions
Distractions are a surefire way to turn writer’s block into a wasted afternoon of procrastination, so if they’re threatening your ability to produce brilliant copywriting, it’s time to cut them out.
Lock your mobile phone in a desk drawer, or leave it in another room. Turn off email notifications on your laptop. Switch off the radio or music if it’s making your mind wander. If you’re working from home, find a space where you can ignore the laundry pile or washing up.
Know yourself and what’s likely to distract you. For me, the slightest hint of writer’s block and I’ll look for ways to distract my brain and before I know it, I’m five years deep into a stranger’s Instagram page and no closer to getting my word count off ground zero.
With minimal distractions, you can clear the clutter in your mind and create a calm mindset to let the words flow.
If you’ve tried various ways to beat writer’s block and you’re still staring at a blank page, it’s time to step away from screen!
Taking a break is a brilliant way to recharge and reignite your inspiration, so you can return to your desk brimming with ideas.
Do something productive to boost your self-esteem, rather than wallowing and beating yourself up about it. Go for a walk, call a friend, write a shopping list to plan a delicious meal to look forward to at the end of your copywriting session, or take a bath and pamper yourself a little.
Sometimes, the worst thing you can do for writer’s block is force yourself to sit at your desk feeling guilty and stressed, so stepping back and allowing yourself a break gives you a physical and mental boost.
Try a change of scenery
Staring at the same four walls can drive you crazy if you’re suffering from writer’s block, so don’t feel you have to chain yourself to your desk to produce successful copywriting.
Take your laptop outside, head to a local cafe, snuggle up on the sofa, visit a coworking space or work from your bed if it works for you. A change of scenery can be the perfect antidote to a spell of writer’s block.
Shut down your screens
For some, screens can cause stress and anxiety when trying to beat writer’s block and create interesting content.
If that sounds familiar, shut down your screens and get back to basics. Open up a notebook and try to jot down some initial ideas. Or, close your eyes, get thinking and record some voice notes to inspire your next copywriting project.
Write a plan by hand
Following on from the previous tip, writing a plan of action relating to your copywriting project can be an excellent way to get your writing session off the ground.
Scribbling thoughts, headers, ideas and tasks down by hand can feel more satisfying than typing, so mentally it can put you in a productive mindset to get you started.
A good old-fashioned spider diagram can help you organise your thoughts and form the foundation of your copywriting project, giving you something to refer back to for inspiration as you go along.
Brainstorm, mindmap, thoughtshower… whatever you call it, get something down on paper and watch the content start flowing onto your screen.
Hopefully, some of these tips will help you banish writer’s block the next time it comes lurking, and produce some brilliant freelance copywriting for your next project.
If you can’t find the time or inclination to overcome your writer’s block, you can pass your project over to a freelance copywriter. I’d be happy to help with your content writing needs – drop me a line on firstname.lastname@example.org and let’s chat.