How to beat writer’s block — 8 tips from VistaCreate’s copywriters
Creative jobs are super fun and exciting! Until they’re not…
No matter how great of a copywriter you are, at some point, you inevitably face every writer’s worst enemy — writer’s block.
Then, it’s up to you to decide the fate of your career: you either give up and quit or tackle the creative drought.
Unfortunately, a lot of copywriters get outnumbered in this fight. But not you! You came across this article and now have the whole VistaCreate copywriting team on your side.
Read till the end to find out 8 tried and tested tips on how to turn a blank page into a beautifully written article.
Why does writer’s block occur?
There are no two identical people in the world, which means there are no identical reasons for creative droughts. But the majority of them fall into one (or more) of the following categories:
- You’re working under pressure.
A couple of weeks ago, you procrastinated the whole day, then sat down and wrote your star piece in under two hours. It was nauseatingly stressful, of course. But reaching the conclusion felt so good and rewarding. The triumph of outrunning time was almost addictive. Even though you definitely promised yourself to never do it again, here you are. Just for the thrill of it — and because you’ve already managed to do it before, — you left your copywriting job to the last minute.
Been there, done that; and it’s not good.
Nothing blocks creativity as much as having to work under the pressure of meeting deadlines. Working under strict time restrictions can go two ways: you either generate a genius idea and find the right words to convey it to the readers, or you give up before you even start because there’s allegedly not enough time to produce a good piece.
Unfortunately, the latter is more common. Hence all the unfinished copywriting jobs.
- You’re too much of a perfectionist.
And it sucks big time! While we all strive to write persuasive, impactful copy that captures the audience’s attention and — hopefully — sells, the copy itself doesn’t have to be Pulitzer prize-worthy. Or at least not when you’re still at the first draft stage of the process.
Every time you hit backspace on your keyboard, you lose rhythm. This hinders the whole process and leads to a terrible loss of ideas. After a few lost trails of thought, you risk hitting a dead-end — copywriter’s block.
- You don’t see a point in writing the copy you’re working on.
If you feel like you’re doing a Sisyphean task writing your article, you’re doomed for failure. You need to have a good understanding of the impact your piece is going to have on your business. Then, you’ll have enough inspiration to combat writer’s block.
- Your past success is setting you back.
It’s always a delight to see your copy perform well. When the article you’ve written has low bounce rates, heaps of social shares, and generates a lot of traffic and a good amount of conversions… That’s a copywriter’s best reward! But at the same time, it’s also the source of copywriters’ worst fears.
‘Quit at the peak’ is one of the most popular phrases in the creative field. Past success puts a lot of pressure on copywriters: after you produce one successful piece of content, the audience expects you to hit it out of the park every single time. That can be terrifying; especially when you start off with a blank page.
- You start off with a blank page.
You’re tête-à-tête with an idea, but you just don’t know where to start. No plan, no roadmap — just a topic to cover. When you don’t break down the copywriting task into smaller, more manageable bits, it can be almost impossible to find your way around a blank page.
Regardless of the nature of your writer’s block, you still need to get that copy written — at the end of the day, it’s your job. To make it easier, we’ve asked VistaCreate’s team of copywriters to share their tried-and-tested tips for overcoming writer’s block.
The best ways to combat copywriter’s block according to VistaCreate’s copywriters
We’ve already written a pretty good action plan for what to do when you can’t generate ideas. Now, it’s time to find out what you should do when you have an idea but can’t bring yourself to bring it to life.
Study your competitors’ copy
Unless your business is truly one of a kind (to quote Lady Gaga, ‘never the same, totally unique, completely not ever been done before’), it’s likely that someone on the market has already had their take on the topic you’re trying to cover in your article.
Research your competitors and their copy to get inspired and borrow some central ideas to base your article on. Just ensure you still give it a spin to make them your own.
Get distracted from copywriting and search for a muse
Sometimes, the best thing you can do to beat your writer’s block is to stop trying to write the copy altogether.
Get inspired by something other than writing. For instance, you can look through books, including copywriting books, advertising books, marketing books, art history books, etc. They’re a great source of inspiration, eloquence, and good copy in general.
Alternatively, you can look through online media. They’re perfect for understanding what’s popular at the moment and which topics get the most public resonance. Besides, even if you step away from researching topics and opinions for your articles, you can still benefit from seeing all the different formats in which you can present your information.
Still, you don’t necessarily need to get neck-deep in studying other people’s writing. Sometimes, writer’s block is not about not knowing how or what to write. Instead, it’s just a lack of inspiration in general. So any change of setting or routine can get the job done. Go for a walk, clean your house, take a shower, travel to different places, visit a gallery — the extent to which you mix it up is entirely up to you.
The trick is to get your mind off the copywriting task so that you stop perceiving it as an active threat. Let the idea marinate in your mind palaces for some time. Your brain works in interesting ways; even when you think you’re not thinking about a certain idea, your brain is actually processing it.
Create a framework
Sometimes, you don’t fear the actual process of writing, you fear the avalanche of work that’s about to consume you the second you sit down and type out your first word.
Indeed, if you have double digits of pages to write, the task might seem impossible. But the second you understand that it’s not twenty-thirty-something pages of continuous writing, but rather several dozens of paragraphs and ideas only loosely interconnected with each other, the task instantly becomes way more doable.
Section your article into several headers. Then, bullet point the content for each heading, breaking it further down into smaller bits. Continue the process until you’re almost done and only have to write a couple of filler sentences to connect the dots. You won’t even notice how you went from a blank page to a coherent document that is one edit away from being good to publish.
Create a rewards system for yourself (and break it, if needed)
It all comes down to persuading your brain to force your body to unstiffen your fingers and finally let you write that copy. So, why not trade the ability to write for something your brain loves?
For example, if you procrastinate by watching TikToks, promise yourself to get 15 guilt-free minutes of TikTok after every completed section of the article. Or, for example, if you’re a sweet tooth, negotiate some delicious candy for every page of text written.
But if you already have a system like that and still fail to get the job done… Break the rules! Dedicate a whole day to scrolling through your For You Page, stuffing your face with sweets, or playing two hundred Solitaire games in one go until you can no longer look at it. Sometimes you have to turn your carrots into sticks for them to work.
Reach out to your network
Teamwork makes dreams work. Especially if your dream is beating writer’s block.
Scan your network of connections for people that have expertise in the topic you’re covering and reach out to them for help.
Doing this can help you kill three birds with one stone:
- Get valuable insight and tips to make your article more expert and actionable.
- Get simpler explanations of complex concepts so that you can put them into better words.
- Get to see your topic from a different angle.
It also makes your copywriting process significantly faster as you don’t have to waste time researching the web, trying to find information from secondary sources.
Start writing, for real
Once you force yourself to write at least something, it’s already half the battle won. At the end of the day — and ironically, — it’s the only way to start.
Now, there are two directions you can take. You either try to come up with the central idea, a star sentence that unveils the very essence of your article to base the rest of your piece around or free-write.
Don’t think about the quality of your copy, don’t think about the ideas you translate in your text, don’t think about whether or not your grammar is good. Just write the first thing that comes to your mind and see where it can take you.
Optimize your freewriting by following these rules:
- Don’t critique your thoughts or written text.
- Write paragraphs, not calibrated lists.
- Don’t spell check or grammar-check during the writing.
The stress of upcoming deadlines might be the reason for the writer’s block, but it can also be the cure for it.
Set a timer for 10 minutes and force yourself to write as much as you can during this time. Alternatively, you can place a bet with yourself and try to write a certain amount of words during the allotted time. The results will vary depending on how much of a gambler you are.
If you want to take this method to an extreme, make use of designated tools. One of the most famous tools (or infamous, considering the amount of text it has gobbled up without leaving a trace) is Squibler.
This self-proclaimed “Most Dangerous Writing App” allows you to break down your writing process into a series of sessions (you decide how long they are). As soon as you start your session, you can’t stop writing. Otherwise, the app erases all the progress you make.
Cut down on distractions and go old school
Make sure nothing gets in between you and your blank text document. No chat notification, no open tab with the latest celebrity gossip, no nothing. Just you and the copy you need to write.
Make sure you silence all devices, ask your colleagues (or household since we’re all WFH these days) not to disturb you unless absolutely necessary, and put some noise-canceling headphones on. Et voila — you have nothing better to do than your job.
And if everything else fails… You can always ditch your MacBook and go back to how things used to be. When you’re writing in a physical notebook, with a good old pen or pencil, you have no choice but to get things done. Magic!
And just like that, eight top-notch tips later, you have all the knowledge you need to uppercut that sneaky writer’s block and produce star copy. Now, stop procrastinating and start practicing techniques.