How to write sizzling Web content, every time

 “Writing is easy. Just put a sheet of paper in the typewriter and start bleeding.” – Thomas Wolfe

Let’s face it – writing is hard.

There are days when the Muse is with you and you’re able to crank out a 500 word blog post in 30 minutes. Those are wonderful days.

And then, there are the dark writing days.  Nothing flows. Everything you write sounds stupid and trite. When those days happen to me, I find myself checking email every five minutes. Is it a useful trait? No. But it distracts me from the sucky reality that is my writing day.

I’ve learned that writing is like life. Some days, nothing seems to work and things seem harder than they need to be. Then, there are days when the angels sing and everything flows.

Most days are in the middle. It may take awhile to warm up – but once you do, things chug along pretty nicely.

The key is knowing how to gently guide your writing brain from feeling stuck to thinking “Hey, I’m digging this!” When your writing is fun and flowing, that’s when you can write sizzling copy every time.

Here’s how to do it:

 – No excuses! There are some mornings when I wake up and think, “Enhhh. I don’t want to write today.” You’ve probably had similar days. It’s OK to feel that way. The challenge with acting on it is it turns into a habit. You put it off and put it off – and then it becomes a big scary thing in your head (and you run the risk of blowing your deadlines.) Instead of crawling back in bed….

 – …Try writing for just five minutes. There’s something about the psychological trick of “only five minutes” that works for me. If I told myself that I was going to write for 30 minutes, I’d find myself staring at a blank page. Even during my most brain-dead days, I can make myself write for five minutes. And after my five minutes is up, something very cool happens. Five minutes turns into fifteen minutes, thirty – even a completed blog post. I lose track of the time and get in the flow. Five minutes was all it took to clear the cobwebs.

 – Still not feeling it? Take a break. Did the five minute trick not work for you? Don’t push it. Forcing yourself to be creative is painful, frustrating and scary. This is when writer’s block creeps up and grabs you by your neck. The best thing you can do is walk away and do something – anything – different. I cook. Some people work out. Others take time to play with their children or their pet. The key is to get your mind completely off your writing. When you sit back down, your brain will (hopefully) be refreshed and ready to rock your latest writing assignment.

 – Is your brain screaming “no more?” Try again tomorrow.  You’ve tried everything and it’s still not working. Your writing sucks, your brain is frozen and you can’t figure out how to fix it. Consider it an “off day” and try again tomorrow.  Although it’s tempting to beat yourself up, don’t. We all have bad writing days. Heck, I have them at least once a month. I’ve learned that non-writing days are great times to catch up on administrative tasks. I may not be finishing my latest writing assignment, but I am getting things done. That makes me feel better.

 – If at any point you start “feeling it,” start writing and get it out.  Sometimes, the act of letting go and saying “I’m taking a break today,” is all your brain needs to loosen up. When you’re feeling jumpy because you need to write – write. Grab your computer. Grab a paper and pen. Grab something. When you take advantage of your creative flow, wonderful things can (and will) happen.

What about you? What’s your favorite way to jump start your brain and writing sizzling copy, every time?

 

 

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9 replies
  1. craig wright
    craig wright says:

    I go through this pretty much EVERY time I write! I go over and over things, and even when I’m relatively happy with it, I will go back and pick at it.

    I’ve started to learn that the best way is to just keep ploughing on, produce a draft that I’m 75% happy with, then pass it to the client. If they are happy with it, the 75% jumps to 95%. It is mostly self-doubt for me.

    But then there are days when my writing is just dire, no matter what I try. That’s when the PS3 comes in handy.

    Reply
  2. Amy C. Teeple
    Amy C. Teeple says:

    Many times taking a break helps me – it’s when I beat myself up for taking the break (or working on something else) that I find myself still stuck after the break.

    I know that a lot of people don’t like to run (I used to be one of them – heck on some days I still am), but I find that taking a run when I’m stuck can be extremely helpful. When I crank up my music and let my mind wander, I suddenly find myself with the perfect words to get started (or to get me past a specific block). Page layouts that flow suddenly materialize.

    It doesn’t happen every time I run, but it happens enough that it is worth lacing up my running shoes.

    The only problem I have with this trying to remember all of the fantastic ideas I get during the run. Jotting down ideas isn’t an option, so I often just repeat them to myself until I know they will stick.

    Thanks for the post!

    Reply
    • Heather
      Heather says:

      Ha! Amy, you could always take your phone and leave yourself voice mails. Of course, if you jog like me, your notes would sound like, “Remember (wheeze, wheeze) to mention the (wheeze) important benefit (wheeze)…(insert swear word here.)

      Craig, I love your 75% idea. That’s a great metric – thanks. :)

      Reply
  3. Jen Carroll
    Jen Carroll says:

    I can completely identify with this post! The more frustrated I get with my writing, the more anxious I become about work and life in general. Your tips are spot on.

    One other thing that has worked for me is to step away from email. It’s a distraction, breaks down the writing mojo and turns into a time suck. So, I try to only check it first thing in the morning (urgent items only), at lunch and once in the evening. I don’t always succeed, but it has helped immensely!

    Reply
  4. Nick Stamoulis
    Nick Stamoulis says:

    I think that a good tip is to just get it all out on the page. It doesn’t even need to make sense at first- just start writing. You can go back and edit later and put it together in a way that reads nicely.

    Reply

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