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When Writing Stalls: Tips to Jumpstart Your Copy

By September 18, 2018News & Viewpoints

I love to write, and as a communications professional, I write quite a bit for my clients. Lately I’ve been facing serious writer’s block when it comes to blog content. How perfect that this article arrived in my inbox. As I eagerly scanned the article for new tips to break out of my rut, I was disappointed when I realized I disagree with most of the article’s suggestions which focus on free association, writing fast or slow, or finding something to edit. If the tips in the article work for you – march on! If these tips are new to you, give them a try.

If what you need is a little more inspiration, I offer the following tips:

  1. Read. I’m not talking about reading your social media feed. Peruse a daily paper, a weekly news magazine or long form journalism. Reading other editorial stories often sparks ideas when I’m staring at a blinking cursor and blank screen. While I love a good podcast or the story-telling nature of NPR, reading the written word helps light up the writing corner of my brain.
  1. Write. Yes, I mean pick up your favorite pen or pencil and jot down ideas. I often find the physical act of writing instead of banging on a keyboard is all I need to unblock my mind. The added bonus of writing by hand is I’m not distracted by a pinging inbox, instant messenger or temptation to surf the web. My team has seen me curled up in a chair or couch with a pen and pad of paper on more than one occasion (and now they know what I’ve been doing all those times!).
  1. Change your scenery. Be it a coffee shop, conference room, home office, outside or even someone else’s workspace. In addition to our traditional office, Stratacomm has a desk in a collaborative work space that is regularly used when our staff need different surroundings for inspiration.
  1. Empty your mind. Sometimes I just need to find an empty space in my brain. For me, a yoga class or other physical activity that encourages “letting go” often does the trick. This is different from consciously thinking of ideas while running or cycling – its about resting your mind and recharging. Since I was stuck while writing this blog post, I was looking forward to a yoga class to clear my mind and find my inspiration. In the end, reading (see Tip 1) provided my inspiration and got me unstuck. Who knows, maybe I’ll think of my next blog post at yoga instead!

Most of all, don’t get discouraged. Writing is very personal, and we all have our best practices and approaches. The key is to have a toolbox of tricks you can pick up to jump start your mind. Once you unblock your mind, the words will start to flow.

Sharon Hegarty is a senior vice president and senior partner in Stratacomm’s Detroit office. After staring at a screen for many days, this post was written in under an hour once she found her inspiration.