You’re at your computer sending off your final email of the day. You go to attach a file and…
The spinning wheel of death—that multi-color symbol of computational frailty in the machine that’s supposed to know and do it all.
There goes two minutes…three minutes…seven minutes.
You were supposed to put the steaks on the grill. Now dinner is going to be late, but there you are, stuck at your computer, darn near hypnotized by that circling wheel.
But wait! You have options. Specifically, the reboot.
The reboot is a gift, a Get out of Jail Free card, a whisper of hope for rescuing the steak dinner after all.
But what if your brain is the spinning wheel, and there’s no button to push? That’s the story of writer’s block.
As a copywriter, you depend on the free flow of creativity and words, but what happens when your brain gets stuck? And you have a deadline? And you really need the money from this job?
First of all, relax. You’re not some strange outlier. Through my copywriting courses, I’m asked all of the time about writer’s block. In fact, I’d venture to say that in this field, there are very few people who haven’t experienced writer’s block at some point, and most have dealt with it many times over.
Why Writer’s Block?
If we don’t want it to happen, why does that spinning wheel of writer’s block death start turning? Here are some explanations that may resonate with you.
- We ‘re naturally hard on ourselves. This can take the form of negative self-talk, including comparing ourselves to other writers and telling ourselves that we just don’t measure up. Enough negativity can shut us down.
- We’re scared of failure. Nobody wants to fall on their face, and some of us tend toward perfectionism. That can make writing feel overwhelming.
- We lack motivation. Being a freelance writer requires discipline, and, let’s face it, there are some days we just want to binge watch old Star Trek episodes, and, well, resistance is futile. Cue the spinning wheel.
The Big Seven
Whatever the cause of your writer’s block, I want to share seven tips to help you reboot and move forward.
- Make the most of your mornings.
I’ve recently shared thoughts on the virtue of mornings. It’s quiet in the morning, and your mind is fresh and uncluttered. I’ve been trying to get after my biggest needle movers in the first few hours of the day, and it’s working. So stop banging your head against the keyboard at 11 pm. Go to sleep, wake up refreshed and try it again. Let the body’s sleep processes clear the clutter out of your brain. The world will look better, and your ideas will be more likely to flow in the morning.
- Chat with your imaginary friend.
I know. You may not have talked with him since childhood, but I’m going to recommend that you invite him back into your life—at least while you’re pushing through writer’s block. Sit him down, tell him in plain words exactly what you’re trying to say in this high-centered sales letter. Don’t try to sound lofty or clever, just get the words out there. Then type them out—no matter how rough they may be—and keep typing. You can always fine tune later, but this can help you get the fundamentals on paper.
- Get outside.
When we’re wrestling with writer’s block, our life and our future can shrink down to the size of our computer screen, but there’s a big sky out there and, depending on where you live, mountains and trees and grass, and the neighbor’s dog is barking. Life is bigger than just this frustrating moment, so put on your sneakers, step outside and let the world around you reset your perspective.
- Keep a growth mindset
If negative self-talk and fear of defeat are giving you one big brain freeze, switch your mindset. We’re all on a journey to become better at our craft, but we get ourselves in trouble when we see each new project as a finish line that we may or may not cross in time to win. This copy that you are writing—it’s one of many you’ll generate along your journey, and with every piece you write, you’ll learn a little more and get a little better. So give yourself permission to write both pieces that knock it out of the park and others that could use a little improvement—and be willing to learn from all of them.
- Get really familiar with the brand.
I recently wrote an article on writing quickly like a sociopath, in which I told about the time I wrote a new promo (11,000 words) in 2.5 days. Not bad. I don’t always do this, but the thing that made the big difference for me was that before I started writing, I got really familiar with the spokesperson and the brand—so much so that the whole time I was writing, I had the Avatar’s voice in my head, propelling me along. I knew his accent, quips, mannerisms. You can gain and maintain momentum and be less prone to writer’s block when you do your legwork and truly “inhabit” the brand you are writing about.
- Call a friend
Go ahead, use one of your lifelines, and reach out to the people who keep you afloat in life. Call your spouse or your old college roommate. Throw a ball with your kid. Limber up a little. Laugh a little. Human connection and seeing life through someone else’s eyes can help reboot the brain
- Move it
Shift the stress from your brain by getting your body busy. Lift some weights, vacuum, fold some laundry, weed the garden. Sometimes the rhythm of mindless, repetitive physical tasks can take the pressure off of your mind so that you can think more freely and creatively.
Writer’s block is not your end state; it’s a little bump on the road. So relax, step away from the screen and mix it up with one or more of these tips. I have full confidence you’ll be able to put a new “spin” on your creative flow. And if you want a “shortcut” to writing better copy faster, make sure to check out The RMBC Method. I created this method to help me break through writer's block and write winning sales copy consistently. It's already helped hundreds of writers speed up their writing time AND write killer copy.