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3 Unique Ways to Crush Writer's Block

by Nick Congelosi

Date

June 10, 2016 at 2:03 PM

writer's blockThe 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 and everyone has 36 suggestions about how to get past writer's block. Then you get option paralysis, which is no help at all. So here are three unique and simple methods to wake up your creativity.

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 me, there are three sure-fire ways to crush your writer's block. Hopefully they will help you get back to work. 

1. Ride any public transportation

Subway-424102-edited.jpeg

Hop on any public transit. The bus is my go-to but others prefer the subway. Leave your technology at home for this one. Bring a notebook and a pen or pencil. Okay, fine – bring your phone, but try to leave it in your pocket.  

Riding public transit helps in a number of ways with writer's block. For me, I find it most helpful when I am struggling to develop a clear message for my blog posts. It can be hard to distill a topic down to one impactful and clear "core message."

If you were to talk to each person on the bus about your blog topic, what would you want them to walk away remembering? 

Some questions to ask yourself:
  • What would a one-on-one dialogue sound like?
  • What is the one thing would I want them to remember?
  • What would change of you were talking to every person at once?
  • If you had only moments before the final stop, what information takes priority?

Once you have identified the core message of a broad topic - hop on the return bus. Head home and review your notes. What you may find is a strong opening and closing for your blog. All you need to do fill in the blanks. 

Take one more look at your notes. You may find is some great copy for targeted social media messages to promote your new post. You put in the effort to develop communication that fits some odd parameters, I'd bet there's a fantastic Tweet in there somewhere. 

2. Talk to an inanimate object

Lioness-620384-edited.jpgDisclaimer: I do not recommend doing this in public. It becomes awkward. Trust me.

You'll be talking to yourself, but it will be the most honest conversation about why the struggle is so-very-real. 

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. Review 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?"

This always helps me remember that I am not writing for myself. I write for my Buyer Personas. 

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. 

3. Use noun cards to free write

FullSizeRender.jpgWhat'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 is 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. 

At the end of the day...

It may not be writer's block that you are facing. It could be a skill gap. 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 Classroom Training

Written by Nick Congelosi

Nick is a Customer Training Specialist at HubSpot. Nick teaches inbound best practices and strategy to customers all over the country. When he's not working, you can find him Geocaching, playing music, and hanging out with his dog, Yoshi.

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