The struggle is real. You sit down to start a simple 1,000 words and you feel writer's block creeping in. It can feel impossible to get through.
Every person has experienced that moment where you just feel like everything you put out is, well, terrible. Your coffee suddenly tastes bitter, candy turns sour, and the delete key becomes your best friend and your worst enemy—all at once.
As a passionate, creative person, I love what my job demands of me. That also means (queue dramatic music) I face, "The Block" on a regular basis.
I've read every suggestion: work somewhere else, turn on music, turn off music, get some coffee, don't start with a blank page, use a different writing style. I've been to this rodeo before.
The truth is, we all face "The Block" differently. For myself, and other writers, there are five sure-fire ways to crush your writer's block. Hopefully they will help you get back to work.
How to Crush Writers Block
1. Talk to an inanimate object.
This might sound a bit weird, but some writers live by this tip.
Although it might work well, I don't recommend doing this in public. It becomes awkward. Trust me.
When you talk to a judgement-free inanimate object about your topic, you'll discuss the most honest points about your blog. You can also verbally work through creative angles without worrying about negative feedback.
In my house in New Hampshire, I used to talk to Nala, a wooden sculpture of a lioness rocking a Davy Crockett Cap. Here's a picture for proof.
She used to give me the toughest feedback, the best encouragement and never judged me. Sure, my room mates thought I was crazy, but Nala was always honest. She helped me drill down to why I was wallowing in self doubt.
If you struggle with the idea of talking to yourself, log into HubSpot and review your Buyer Personas. Examine their profile and read their story, even if you are the one who developed the persona.
Graft that persona onto one of these inanimate objects. Personally, I assign Buyer Personas to my instruments. My guitar takes on the voice of Geocaching Gary; my saxophone becomes Adventure Allison; and my piano voices the opinions of Leader Larry.
I ask questions like, "What is important to you in regards to this topic?" or "What question am I trying to answer, what is the solution you need?"
Aside from helping me come up with ideas that best align with my brand, it also always helps me remember that I'm not just writing for myself. I write for my customers, prospects, and followers.
Sometimes the largest obstacle that we need to overcome, is our own criticism. Remember that you are writing for you Buyer Personas, not yourself. So think about they need from your article and try to let go of self-criticism.
2. Lean into your productive and non-productive moments.
We all have times where we feel absolutely unproductive. Low motivation and low energy also majorly impacts our creativity, and can ultimately cause writer's block.
When this happens, Rebecca White, a junior writer for the HubSpot Blog, suggests leaning into your productive and non-productive times rather than forcing yourself to write.
3. Take breaks or time off as needed.
While you'll have productive and unproductive times during each day, you might also find yourself running into writer's block because you're simply mentally drained.
When this happens, Pamela Bump, Audience Growth Writer for the HubSpot Blog, suggests taking a breather.
"In my role, I regularly need to churn out blog posts while also coming up with a roster of blog posts assignments for other team members. While I love doing this, sometimes constantly searching for new ideas and blog post angles can get challenging," Bump admits.
"To rejuvenate my mind, I make sure to take regular breaks each day, and request a day off as needed," Bump says. "Once I'm out of the office and take some time to relax, I find that ideas start flowing naturally again."
4. Write down creative ideas as they come.
Sometimes, when you're struggling to write a blog post, you'll get a spark of creativity once you leave your desk. For example, a great idea might hit you in a meeting, in the office elevator, when you're falling asleep, or even when you're working out. Unfortunately, during these times, you can't always whip out your laptop and start writing.
When creative strikes, write it down in a notebook or your phone's Notes app. If you prefer to talk through your ideas, Jim Ruocco, a senior CSM suggests using "a voice recorder or voice assistant to record creative thoughts when they come to you."
Later, when you sit back down to write your post, review your notes.
5. Use noun cards to free write.
What's a noun card? It is what it sounds like. Go get a set of index cards and cut them in half. Write one noun on every half-card until you have no cards left. These cards will act as your starting point for some limitless free writing.
When I feel like I have nothing left to write about, I break out my noun cards.
Start with a pen and paper—no pencils and no technology. You should not be able to change what you write. This is an exercise in uncovering new ideas. If you get hung up on editing, you won't get past your own criticism.
Pick a noun card. Did you pick "Golden Gate Bridge?" That's awesome, now set a timer for two minutes (seriously, do it) and write furiously. Then pick another noun card and free write for two minutes.
Ultimately, it's about defining you message, uncovering what is important to your Buyer Personas, and getting your brain-engine warm in order to hit your creative stride.
After a few sessions, concentrate your writing snippets into just a few words. This can act as a starting point for new blog titles, blog topics, and even long-tail keywords.
Take those distilled words and run them through HubSpot's Blog Topic Generator. You will be amazed at what you might come up with.
Also, try out some of the keyword generator tools that HubSpot Customers are using. It is amazing what new ideas come to light while using these tools.
Improving Your Writing Skills
If you've exhausted all of these ideas and still can't spark creativity, you might be running into a skill-gap related challenge rather than writer's block.
I've had the hard realization that I don't know how to accomplish my goal. It can take a long time searching for answers and practicing to close or develop a skill, like writing.
Closing a skill gap requires more than a bus ride with a stuffed animal holding a deck of index cards. Over the years, I've benefited from live training courses, great books, and working with a mentor. To pay it forward, I've linked some great resources below to help on your journey. Good luck!
- HubSpot Academy - An endless resource for everything you need
- HubSpot's Blog Team on How to Be a Better Blogger
- How HubSpot Marketers Stay Creative Under Pressure
Editor's Note: This blog post was originally published in June of 2016, but was updated for comprehensiveness and freshness in June 2020.