(prefer video over text? click here to watch the Facebook Live instead)
So here’s the problem – you know you need to write, and write consistently, for your business blog. But you open that fresh Google Doc or empty blog post … and you just stare at that blinking cursor. You know you have to write SOMEthing … but what?
The good news is that you don’t have to be a writing whiz to break through this wall.
Here’s three simple things anyone can do to get past writer’s block and write a good post.
(1) Talk Through Your Ideas with a Friend
You’ve heard of Brene Brown, right? Author of multiple best-selling books? She’s a successful and experienced writer, and even she gets writer’s block.
So how does she get past it? With a little help from her friends.
The story goes that, while she was working on her most recent manuscript, she got stuck. And sitting alone in front of her computer wasn’t helping. So she asked for help, scheduled a girls’ weekend trip, packed her manuscript, and between beer runs and beach time they smashed her writer’s block.
The story sounds too fun to be true – but Brene is a self-described “Texan and born-storyteller”, and all she needed was a little stress-relief and a live audience.
Over multiple sessions throughout the weekend, she’d audibly tell her girlfriends stories about her research, they would type along and give feedback as fast possible, and then Brene would take their notes and go back to her computer to organize it. Then she’d come back out to the living room for another round with new stories and ideas, and they’d cycle through the process again and again, until finally her writer’s block was a distant memory.
Talking is different than writing, and I was reminded of this story when I realized how much time I spend on the phone TALKING to my clients – for most people, it’s more comfortable to process their thoughts out loud with another person, rather than alone and at a keyboard.
So pick up the phone, meet someone for lunch and coffee, and just talk through some of your ideas. Who said that it’s not allowed to be fun?
(Helpful sidenote: You can also use the wonderful Otter app to record and automatically transcribe your conversation – it’s really easy to use, and the first 600 minutes every month are free!)
(2) Perfection is NOT Real, but Drafting is – So Write an SFD
On the wall above my desk, I have a bright pink post-it note that says, in big black Sharpie, “PERFECTION IS A MYTH”. I need this reminder while writing – we all do.
Did you know that Hemingway drafted and rewrote the end of his novel “Farewell to Arms” FORTY-SEVEN TIMES?
Here’s my point – NO ONE writes ANYTHING perfectly on the first try – NO ONE in the history of forever.
Just accept that everyone has to write an SFD (a “shitty first draft”), and don’t shoot for perfection on the first round. No one hits that target on round – and you’ll freeze up if you think you have to.
I don’t care if you need to write a tight 500-word blog perfectly describing an important tax concept – write a rambling 1,500 word stream-of-consciousness piece with stories thrown in about your childhood goldfish. Throw in a 13-point bullet list. Ignore misspellings. Fill it with goofy phrases and profanity. Type “I CAN HAZ CHEEZBURGER” 8 times until you start to laugh at yourself.
You know why I recommend this? Because even though I’m a professional writer, I have to write them, too. ALL. THE. TIME.
It’s just part of writing – we all get stuck sometimes. And the only way through it is to throw words at it – sometimes, really ridiculous, misspelled or profane words.
The first draft is just about uncorking the bottle and getting things flowing, not about immediately making a polished finished product.
Have fun making it terrible, then walk away from it for an hour or a day. Go back later and mine out the gems for your shorter second draft – I promise you, they’ll be there. And the second draft will be infinitely easier.
(Helpful sidenote: If you’re a perfectionist and need help being forced to just keep writing that SFD, try out this unusual drafting tool from Squibler. If you stop typing before the time limit is up, everything is deleted!)
(3) What questions do your clients ask you the most? Answer those questions
Sometimes what locks us up is that we have no idea what our clients and audience WANT to know or read about. But with a little research and pre-planning, you can create a GOLD MINE for your current and future blog posts, and save yourself from a lot of future writer’s block.
Wanna know what your clients want to read or learn about? It’s easy.
Just ask them. Listen to them. They’ve already told you in the questions they ask you:
- How do I know when and where to file my taxes on the federal, state and local levels?
- How do I keep track of my receipts?
- How do I read these Quickbooks reports when I’m not an accountant?
Then take each of those questions and write a blog entry that answers it. Just be helpful.
I know, it’s not a “sexy” blog topic idea, but think about it – when you’re googling “how do I shut off my water main?” to stop a flooding leak in your house, you do NOT want to be entertained – you want fast answers that will solve your flooding problem.
Now think about your audience – when they’re googling accountants and bookkeepers, it’s probably because they have a financial problem they need help solving. They want solutions, not entertainment.
So help them. And, if you listen carefully, you can be helpful in very specific areas that YOUR clients ACTUALLY need (for example: real estate bookkeeping for your real estate clients). Solve the problems they’re asking for your help on. As long as it’s helpful and readable, it doesn’t need to be sexy.
I myself keep a spreadsheet just for this kind of stuff for my own marketing work. (Where do you think this blog idea came from? ) And it has saved me time and again when I wake up “uninspired” on what to write next.
Even if you hate writing, or feel like you suck at it, you don’t have to stay stuck in writer’s block.
Pick up the phone. Write a long and unreadable SFD. Or do a little research and pick a client question to answer.
But mostly, just remember – you know so much valuable information that could help your clients SO much. Don’t worry about making it perfect – just put something out there that helps them. Trust me, the right audience will appreciate it.
(This content cam from a FB Live originally recorded on Oct 23, 2019)
Do you have any other suggestions of how you’ve successfully gotten past writer’s block? I’d love to hear about it – feel free to leave a comment about it to help others 🙂 And If you’ve got any other questions about writing, just send ’em my way!