How a swipe file can conquer writer’s block

Greetings and welcome back! Today, Heather discusses her favorite writing tip that can benefit all writers, whether you’re an in-house copywriter, freelance writer, blogger, or even a novelist. And that tip is: how to use a swipe file.

Swipe files are spectacular because they offer a great way to conquer writer’s block and provide inspiration on those days that you really need it!

So tune in to learn what a swipe file is, and how to use it to infuse your writing muse…

What’s a swipe file?

A swipe file is as simple as:

– Writing examples that inspire you and give you ideas

– Your swipe file could contain headlines, snippets of text, photos, online or offline writing – it’s whatever gets your brain moving in the right direction

So for example, say you are looking at a website and see a fantastic headline and think, “I need to remember that headline!”

All you would do is copy down that URL and put it someplace where later, when you need inspiration, you could refer to that URL and recall how the headline was crafted.

Having a swipe file makes it easier to jumpstart your brain when your writing muse is languishing, providing the impetus you need to write your own brilliant stuff!

The key is to save those great text snippets in the moment…

– Don’t think “I’ll save this later.” Do it now…otherwise, you’ll forget.

And you’ll be back home or back in your office thinking “What was that headline again?” and it will be *poof* out of your brain, so save it in the moment, and…

– Find the method that works best for you. Evernote and Instapaper are fantastic tools.

Historically, swipe files used to be file folders, and we used to tear out articles and shove them in the file folders and thumb through them when we needed to get some ideas.

But today we have a lot of really cool electronic options for the swipe file. My two favorites are Evernote and Instapaper because it is very easy to just instantly send your great find to Evernote, or hit “read later” on Instapaper, and have it saved someplace where you can access it from anywhere.

So even if you’re not in front of your laptop, you can pull it up on your smartphone and boom! There it is.

And it might be that a traditional file folder where you clip or print stuff out and put it in the file is the best way for you to go! That’s cool. It’s just when you need that little burst of inspiration, you want to be able to access it wherever you are.

– Consider organizing your swipe file by theme (blog post ideas/headline ideas/etc.)

A time-saving strategy is to organize your swipe file by theme so you can readily find exactly what it is you’re looking for, be it a blog post idea, a great headline, or especially great content that you want to be able to refer to.

Thanks for joining me for this week’s SEO copywriting video! If you’re looking for more SEO copywriting tips, I encourage you to sign up for my free SEO Copywriting Buzz Newsletter. You can choose either (or both) daily or weekly updates, and receive my free “How to write for Google” whitepaper as a thank you!

Also, if you’re having some issues with your website(s) – you might know that you’re having some content challenges but you’re not sure what they are, or if you’re preparing for 2013 and want to jumpstart your content marketing efforts now, please let me know! I’m offering my new SEO Content Review – a fantastic low-cost, high-value service!

And as always, if you have any questions or ideas/requests for my next SEO copywriting video, please contact me via, or on Twitter via @heatherlloyd.

Thanks again! I look forward to hearing from you.


photo thanks to Jennie Farber

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3 replies
  1. Amy C. Teeple says:

    I have referred to this as a “parking lot.” If you are working on one thing and a great idea for something else pops into your head – put it in the parking lot and it will be there when you need it! :-) Whatever you call it, it works well.

    I have used Evernote, white boards, notebooks, etc. Find what works for you! (Of course, now I just need to pick one, so all of my ideas are in once place.)

  2. Sue Huckle says:

    Thanks for the tip!

    I use Microsoft OneNote but I’ve never thought of creating a notebook to use specifically as a swipe file. So I just made one and have it stored on SkyDrive so I can add to it no matter what computer I’m on.


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