There can be something quite intimidating about a blank page. The pressure to fill it with words can be overwhelming. Even the most experienced writers can, at some point, feel as though their ideas have dried up, and they don’t know where to start. But it can be overcome.
Whether you need to write a presentation or proposal, a book or a blog, an advertisement or an anecdote, a newsletter or news release, here are five ways to help you overcome blank page paralysis.
1. Work backwards
When you are stuck, it can help to look at the end goal. What do you want to happen as a result of this? What is the next action step? What do you want customers, readers, journalists, staff members or other stakeholders to take away from it or do as a result of it?
Once you know the end goal, it is easier to determine what you need to write to achieve it, giving you a place to start.
2. Be inspired by the work of others
Need to give a presentation? Watch some TED Talks and other great speeches in history. Have a blog to write? Read other blogs and publishing websites. Need to develop an advertisement? Look over the most successful advertisements developed over the years.
Sometimes we need a touch of inspiration to get us on our way. To see an example of how it is done right or to see it achieving results for us to know it is possible and make a start.
Inspiration should not be confused with plagiarism though. You don’t want to copy what you have read, listened to or watched. Instead, look at the subtle details that appealed to you like their tone of voice, presentation of facts, how they formulated their argument, captured attention or used imagery.
3. Reconnect with your creativity
Sometimes sitting behind a computer can stifle our creativity. We can get too caught in the humdrum of routine and are too easily distracted by the noises of new emails and social media updates coming through.
Think back over the times when you have been the most creative. Chances are it wasn’t in front of your computer screen; it was with a pen and paper, over a whiteboard, away from your desk or talking with others. Also, take into consideration the time of day it was. Identify any patterns and do what you can to recreate these moments of creativity.
4. Write your way
You don’t need to write from start to finish. If you are more inspired to start at the end or halfway through then follow your inspiration. Pressure will only fuel procrastination and overwhelm.
Make notes under different sections or headings and come back to them when you feel you have more clarity. There is no right or wrong way to fill a page. You need to find the process that most suits you.
5. Delegate it
If you are experiencing severe writer’s block and can’t find a way around it personally, then delegate it. Give yourself something to work with by asking a staff member, ghostwriter or copywriter to do the first draft for you.
It might just take someone else’s interpretation of your business, product, service or topic to help you gain more clarity around your positioning and what you do and don’t want to say.
You can help us (and help yourself)
Small and medium businesses and startups have never needed credible, independent journalism and information more than now.
That’s our job at SmartCompany: to keep you informed with the news, interviews and analysis you need to manage your way through this unprecedented crisis.
Now, there’s a way you can help us keep doing this: by becoming a SmartCompany supporter.
Even a small contribution will help us to keep doing the journalism that keeps Australia’s entrepreneurs informed.