As freelancing copywriters will know, “The easiest thing to do on earth is not to write”.
William Goldman’s words ring true for every freelancer who’s tried their hand at writing. But unfortunately when there are bills to pay and mouths to feed, writer’s block isn’t an option. In order to make a decent wage you need to be ready to write all the time. If only it was that simple!
Dealing with writer’s block is a stressful business for freelancers who already have enough on their plate, so here’s some helpful tips that should get you through.
Fixating on the end product is a big no-no. Nothing is more daunting than considering how this one sentence is going to affect the rest of your project. Worrying about how it will look in your portfolio is a sure-fire way to stop you dead in your tracks.
Focus on your work sentence by sentence and reassure yourself that this is what edits (and re-edits) are for. No one’s going anywhere without a fair few proofreads, so don’t stress yourself out. Just concentrate on putting the next few words into a sentence rather than considering the grand scheme of things.
Consider what you want to say
Waffling prose is a client’s nightmare. If you find yourself struggling to get out the right words, take a moment, breathe and relax. Don’t try to write everything down at once; if you risk sensible and coherent sentences.
Instead, think about what you’re trying to say. If it helps, say your ideas out loud to yourself. This strategy will help you avoid superfluous language and buzzwords that put your project in the danger zone. Be straightforward and direct for the most effective copy.
Do some research
Part and parcel of being a freelance writer is reading up on what you’re writing about. Your client won’t expect yourself to know the entire history of Tutankhamun’s left toe, which is why you need to read up on the subject before putting pen to paper (or finger to keyboard).
As tedious a task as you might find it, research is vital. Without it a case of writer’s block is inevitable, and waffling, fluffy language will soon follow.
Anyone who’s ever had to write an assignment will know that there’s always going to be procrastination before you get down to the nitty gritty. Turning off the TV is a good way to start, but sometimes it’s not enough.
Silence your email notifications and put your phone out of sight. These small distractions might seem like they only take a second, but a person takes 15 minutes to concentrate after being distracted. So all those small phone checks are really taking a toll on your work.
Re-read what you’ve written
Although the hardest thing about writing is staring at a blank page, that doesn’t mean it’s impossible to get writer’s block halfway through a project. You might be mid-sentence when you’re hit by a brick wall that stops you going any further.
There’s only one answer for you in this time of need. Look over what you’ve written. While you’re editing your writing, you’ll be able to let related ideas ruminate at the back of your mind and soon enough ideas will be flowing from your fingertips at an impressive speed!
Start to outline a plan
When you’ve got ideas but you aren’t sure how to make sense of them, it’s best to start with a plan. There’s nothing worse than reading an unstructured piece of copy. It’s confusing, irritating and unprofessional.
Start by making points that will form each of your paragraphs. Whether they’re bullet points, random words or comprehensive sentences, just get something down. You’ll be able to come back to it and restructure afterwards. This will provide you with a starting point to get your writing on its feet again.
Be creative in other ways
Sometimes all it takes for a good idea to come to you is to have a little break. Inspiration can come from unlikely places, so don’t feel bad if you decide to take a walk or have lunch with friends. Having a rest from writing can give you a chance to consider other ideas.
If you don’t feel like it’s productive enough to have a break, try and express your creativity in other ways. Inspire yourself by painting, playing an instrument or even by having a good old dance. You don’t have to be a creative genius, just let yourself try something different that doesn’t involve stressing about your deadline.
What are your tips for overcoming writers block? Leave us a comment in the section below!