Published on April 16th, 2012 | by Colleen Corkery1
How to Get Inspired & Kick Writer’s Block to the Curb
I use my words wisely when I say, “writer’s block is a b****!” This may seem blunt, but getting yourself into a copywriting rut can make you feel worse than Hoops and Yoyo on a Monday Morning (watch the video, you’ll relate). And I quote, “I’m so depressed …What am I doing with my life!? …This is inhumane!” But how can you force inspiration and enticing copy to spill out onto a page and into your email campaigns, social updates, and/or blog? With persistence and advice from the pros, which I’ve outlined below, your own content ideas will soon be flying:
Copywriting Tips from the Original Mad Man
Are you a fan of the TV show Mad Men? Well then you’re in luck, as we’ve got some copywriting advice from the ‘original mad man.’ Business Insider posted a letter written by David Ogilvy (The “Father of Advertising”) in 1955 in which he shares his habits as a copywriter. Ogilvy was donned “the most sought-after wizard in today’s advertising” by Time magazine in 1962. Here are a handful of his “appalling” (according to Ogilvy himself) copywriting tips (#6 is my favorite):
- I spend a long time studying precedents. I look at every advertisement which has appeared for competing products during the past 20 years.
- I am helpless without research material – and the more “motivational,” the better.
- I write out a definition of the problem and a statement of the purpose which I wish the campaign to achieve. Then I go no further until the statement and its principles have been accepted by the client.
- Before actually writing the copy, I write down every conceivable fact and selling the idea. Then I get them organized and relate them to research and the copy platform.
- I try to write 20 alternative headlines for every advertisement, and I never select the final headline without asking the opinion of other people in the agency…
- If all else fails, I drink half a bottle of rum and play a Handel Oratorio on the gramophone. This generally produces an uncontrollable gush of copy.
Quick & Dirty Writer’s Block Tips
We’re Grammar Girl fans and in a blog post, she’s outlined writer’s block advice from Roy Peter Clark in his book, Help! For Writers: 210 Solutions to the Problems Every Writer Faces. Here are the short and sweet takeaways:
- Lower your standards at the beginning of the (writing) process. Raise them later.
- Imagine the story before writing a draft.
- Rehearse the beginning by speaking it to another person.
- Write as fast as you can for ten minutes – without stopping.
- Tell the critical voice in your head to “shut up!”
- If you’re blocked in your usual writing space, try a new place.
- Get someone to ask you questions about your story.
- Forget the beginning for now. Write the ending first.
Overcoming Writer’s Block – Real Writers Reveal All
Love quotes? Want writing advice from professional writers? Here’s a two-in-one piece on About.com called, Writers on Writing: Overcoming Writer’s Block containing more than 30 quotes and tips from famous writers. Here are a few faves:
- “You don’t start out writing good stuff. You start out writing crap and thinking it’s good stuff, and then gradually you get better at it. That’s why I say one of the most valuable traits is persistence.” – Octavia Butler
- “The secret of getting ahead is getting started. The secret of getting started is breaking your complex overwhelming tasks into small manageable tasks, and then starting on the first one.” – Mark Twain
- “Never stop writing because you have run out of ideas. Fill the lacunae of inspiration by tidily copying out what is already written.” – Walter Benjamin
- “If I waited for perfection, I would never write a word.” – Margaret Atwood5. “All through my career I’ve written 1,000 words a day – even if I’ve got a hangover. You’ve got to discipline yourself if you’re professional. There’s no other way.” – J.G. Ballard6. “Read a lot. Write a lot. Have fun.” – Daniel Pinkwater
Content Marketing Webinars on Us – Sit Back, Relax & Learn
Need a break from staring at that blank page, yet still want to be productive? Watch a copywriting webinar! Content marketing/copywriting webinars are some of our most popular here at VerticalResponse. Luckily, we record every minute of it. You won’t feel guilty when words just won’t come to you if you’re watching one of these:
- Content is King – 50 mins
- Blogging for Beginners – 41 mins
- Quick Tips for Effective Email & Social Media Copywriting - 55 mins
- Copywriting 101 – 43 mins
How to Create Compelling Content ‘When You Don’t Have a Clue’ – An Infographic
Hopefully these tips and tactics have ignited some writing sparks of your own. Have any secrets for shaking off the forever-feared writer’s block? Do tell!
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