How I Beat Writer’s Block By Interviewing Myself

This is me, happy that I beat writer’s block.

I have a confession.

You know those tasks you put on your to-do list — but you never do them? You keep carrying them over day after day thinking, “I’ll get to it tomorrow.”

For the last few months, I’ve been sitting slack-jawed in front of my laptop every time I tried to start a writing project. I’d write a few words, hate them all and put it off for another day.

The project? My “About Us” bio page.

The bio I had was…OK. It did what it did to do, but I felt that it didn’t have much pizzaz. Nor did it reflect my personality. It was mechanically correct, but flat from a copywriting perspective.

Never was that issue so in my face than when I redesigned the site. When I asked people to review it, one of the top comments was, “You don’t really showcase who you are or what you’ve done. You’re an expert. You need to put that front and center.”

Sadly, I knew they were right.

Although I can expertly tease out a client’s unique benefits and make them sing on the page, I have a hard time doing it for myself. I write things like, “Heather has been the leading expert in SEO copywriting…” and immediately hear a snide internal voice say, “Who the heck do you think you are? If you’re that good, you don’t need to brag about it.”

You may have had the same issue. You may be super good at something…but instead of shouting it to the rooftops, you downplay your accomplishments. You make yourself smaller rather than bigger. You try to blend in rather than stand out.

How. Incredibly. Stupid.

The purpose of the “about us” page IS to stand out. It’s where you can connect with your readers and showcase your brilliance. If you sound just like everyone else, why would a client bother hiring you? After all, there are lots of other people just like you…and they may work for much less.

If you sell yourself short, you will always lose. Always. It could be a big contract. Or a cool speaking gig. Or a sweet contact. You. Will. Lose.

I decided to slap myself silly last week and get to work on the page. I’d tried free-association writing. I tried using an outline. So this time, I tried something different.

I wrote up a list of interview questions and wrote down my responses. Some of my questions were:

– How long have you been in the industry?

– What makes you different than other SEO content providers out there?

– Who have you worked with?

– What kinds of awards or special recognition have you received?

(You know. The same questions you’d send to any new client.)

I spent a long time answering my interview questions (actually, more time than I spent writing the About Us page.) I went through past emails to remember what I’d done and how I’d helped. I even asked my husband to remind me of my cool accomplishments.

(As a side note, why is it so easy for me to remember when and how I’ve messed up. But it’s so darn hard to remember what I’ve done well. Sheesh!).

Once the interview process was complete, I let it “sit” overnight and started my About Us page the next day.

30 minutes later, I finished my rough draft.  30 minutes! The writer’s block was gone!

I made some edits the next day, took the page live and finally (finally) crossed that item off my to-do list.

Success!

Here’s why I think my process worked:

– I believe that going through my normal client process helped me emotionally detach from the topic. That detachment made it easier to write about myself. Even though I was still writing about me, it almost felt like I was writing about a client. I’m more apt to push the writing envelope with a client and play up their strengths. If I’m writing about myself, I tend to be a bit more subdued.

– Answering interview questions forced me to think about my career. After 17+ years in SEO content development, accomplishments and milestones tend to blend together. There were quite a few things I didn’t even remember until my husband reminded me about them. If you’ve been in one career for a long time, you probably know what I mean.

– All the information I needed was right there. I wasn’t staring at a screen trying to yank factoids out of my brain. I could look at a sheet of notes, highlight the main points and start writing.

My About Us page isn’t 100% perfect yet, but it’s light years ahead of what it was. I finally feel like I have something that showcases what I’ve done, who I am and a little about my personality.

Plus, and more importantly, I can tackle my other pages with confidence. And I can finally (finally) rewrite my other pages, too.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have a new home page to write…

What about you? What writing tips and tricks have you used to write about yourself or your company? Discuss them in the comments!

14 replies
  1. sara woodward
    sara woodward says:

    Heather,
    Your post made me smile for several reasons. Strangely, people who excel and make a skill or crat appear easy, can often be the most reticent about singing their own praises. (For example, I know an Olympian who seldom shares this information about the mountains he has climbed and the heights he has achieved in his sport. He is content to keep his medals in a drawer and share his knowledge and skills with others. Hence your problem with writing your ‘About Page’. So well done on overcoming this ‘hurdle of modesty’ and sharing your achievements and accomplishments. I love the way you write and share your knowledge. I am in the process of revamping my much neglected website and I too have faced the ‘About Page’ dilemma. My cardinal sin was not to have one! My copy writing journey is not in the same league as yours, but I have come a long way, thanks in no small part to people such as you, who are happy to share your wisdom and experience. This craft is definitely a continuous learning process, in order to improve and produce compelling and original copy for clients. Thank you. You rock. Sara

    Reply
  2. Dan B
    Dan B says:

    So I am not the only one, who hates writing about themselves. I think CVs or cover letters are the most difficult. Thanks for the helpful tips. Dan

    Reply
  3. Geraldine
    Geraldine says:

    Interested to note that you’ve used third person rather than first for your About page. Personally I prefer the latter – which is how I’ve written my own – so I’m curious as to your thought process behind choosing to go with the former. Is it because it’s better for SEO because it gives you chance to mention your name? Or maybe because it’s easier to ‘sing your own praises’ if not using ‘I’ or ‘my’?

    Reply
    • Heather Lloyd-Martin
      Heather Lloyd-Martin says:

      @Geraldine, good question. There were a couple main factors that went into my decision. The first factor was because it was easier – for whatever reason, it’s easier for me to write, “Heather Lloyd-Martin was profiled in a book,” than, “I was profiled…” I tried first person and it ended up reading like I, I, I, I, I. 🙂

      The second reason is because people tend to pull my bio for guest posts, speaker introductions, etc. Third-person is a better format for those kind of things. Having said that, I’ve seen some folks create a first and a third person bio. One is targeted more towards their readership and the other is for speaker/guest post bios. I may do that in the future. For now, I was just happy to finish the darn page!

      Thanks!
      🙂

      Reply
      • Geraldine
        Geraldine says:

        Thanks for your explanation Heather. The guest post/speaker angle isn’t relevant for me (at the moment – never say never!) but I can see how it would be for you.

        (Minor technical issue you might not be aware of/able to fix: after pressing Reply to your comment I had to fill out my details again, which might put people off from continuing a conversation).

        Reply
  4. Jody
    Jody says:

    Heather,
    I can relate to this completely! I struggled mightily with my about page until I looked at it, much the way you did, from the context of prospective client. What would a prospective client need to know about me to engage in a more personal level? I have a lot of the professional bio stuff on my LinkedIn profile. On my website, I use my about me page to help folks understand the kind of person I am and what I might be like to work with. Regardless of the type of content you provide though, thinking about it from the perspective of another really helps to get the creative juices flowing. Great post!

    Reply
  5. Paul
    Paul says:

    Thanks for this article! It will help me go back and re-write my about page easier. The biggest obstacle I have is writing the one paragraph Author’s bio that other’s want to use when they reference the material on my site. Should it be a summary of my experience or more of a “sales” paragraph?

    Reply
    • Heather Lloyd-Martin
      Heather Lloyd-Martin says:

      @Paul – good question. You can try combining the two approaches and see how that works. Right now, I’m writing a “straight” about us page, and I’m also including benefits and a soft-sell call to action.

      Good luck with the rewrite and let me know how it goes! 🙂

      Reply
  6. Carolle
    Carolle says:

    Heather you are always so on-point.

    Really who doesn’t have this problem. The only people that I know who can spiel off a professional, relevant biography are those who have been forced to develop this skill for work. Those who must present bios for RFPs and speaking engagement biographies. Most of these people are consultants or regular circuit speakers who are required to do this type of self-aggradization again and again. Its not easy!

    I gained a bit of a reputation with a previous employer for writing bios for websites and introductions, CVs, and LinkedIn pages. It is so much easier to speak of someone else in a positive and professional manner. So at that workplace, it worked to have your professional profile written by some other informed insider. So here is a suggestion for your readers who might be stymied by this agonizing job – try writing bios for other colleagues at your office or workplace. If you are lucky enough to work in a creative industry you might try writing short, humorous bios even as an exercise, for example, “Joe P. – Our lead developer, addicted to Cool Ranch Doritos, and reigning table tennis champ at the office”. You will probably get a sobering and flattering perspective that you do not have complete access to when you attempt the task yourself.

    And in the interest of complete disclosure, my professional bio and LinkedIn page remain completely underdeveloped and amateurish. Maybe it is time for me to take up the challenge personally.

    Thanks for all of the great insights Heather. There are a handful of bloggers I follow religiously, you are always at the top of my reading list.

    Reply
    • Heather Lloyd-Martin
      Heather Lloyd-Martin says:

      @Carolle, thank you so much for your wonderful comment and the compliment. You made my day!

      You definitely have a very unique skill set – I hope your previous employer appreciated you. 🙂 Thanks so much for the GREAT bio-writing tip. Adding some personality to the bios always makes them more interesting to read.

      I’d be addicted to cupcakes and Netflix reruns…

      🙂

      Reply

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *