Make your voice heard
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Tired of staring at that irritating, flashing cursor? Everyone suffers writer’s block – even the professionals. Here are seven tips to help fill that blank, white screen.

1. Why?
Why do you have writer’s block, and how will you get over it? Is it a lack of inspiration? Are you stressed?

For most, writer’s block stems from fear – fear that the words won’t be good enough. You might lose sight of the big picture – and what you’re writing about.

Ask yourself why you started. What’s your objective? And why are you stuck? 

  • Do you fear what others will think?
  • Are your messages ambiguous?
  • Is the timing right?
  • Is your office space comfortable?

Write about your writing anxieties – vent your frustrations. Then write about how you can overcome them. Once you know why you’re stuck for words, you’ll find you can quickly resolve the problem and get on with that email, professional biography or web content.

2. Brainstorm
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. Mapping can help you:

  • Summarise information
  • Think through issues
  • Present information in a structured format

Once you have some words and phrases in front of you – even if they’re a maze, 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? 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.

3. Inspiration
Does your writer’s block come from a lack of inspiration?

A little research can go a long way. It could inspire your words or provide you with a quote around which to structure your content.

Look at related material – even your competitors’. Perhaps your industry is in the news. What do the experts say? This could inspire the general direction of what you write.

Keep a notepad beside your bed or start an ideas box. Take ideas from life. Scribble down everything that inspires you.

Listen to background music. It could help block out other distractions, and break the distraction of silence.

4. Just write
Set yourself a deadline and write! Once it starts flowing, you won’t be able to stop.

Allow yourself to write without perfection; try not to make revisions along the way – this can slow you down and dry up your inspiration. It is nice to get it right from the start, and that will come with practice, but remember, no one will see this draft. It can be easier to fix spelling, grammar, order and flow when you’re fresh.

Try closing your eyes or turning the monitor off. If you can’t see what you’ve written, you can’t decide prematurely that you don’t like it.

Keep writing, regardless. Let word follow word. Breaking writer’s block isn’t about writing perfectly, it’s about getting some words out there.

5. 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! Clear your mind: go for a walk; meditate; get a cup of tea. Sometimes it 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.

6. Keep it short and simple
We’re all guilty of overcomplicating things – using big words to sound impressive; 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.

Chunking
Present information as small pieces or ‘chunks’ of information to make reading and comprehension faster and easier – this is especially useful for web content, which readers tend to scan.

Sub-headings
By inserting a sub-heading, readers can scan your text until they find the keywords they’re searching for. If it is visually pleasing, a reader is more likely to start – and finish – reading your material.

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

7. 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!

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