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Beat the fear of the blank page

Beat the fear of the blank page

Category: Copywriting | Date: | Author: Sarah Fielding

When I write an article, a brochure or a web page, I think of it like a jigsaw. I need all the pieces in front of me before I can craft it into a something that makes sense. It’s much easier to do a jigsaw when you have the picture on the box in front of you, showing you what the completed puzzle should look like, and you have the corners and the edges to give you some structure. Writing is just the same, you need a vision of what you want to say and a solid structure in place before you get stuck in.

As with most things in life, copywriting is a lot easier if you break it down into small achievable chunks. I’d spend my entire life staring at a bank screen if I didn’t follow these simple steps...

1. Give yourself time – Here’s a formula (all of my own creation) that gives Pi a run for its money: Writing Under Pressure = No Fun. Give yourself plenty of time and if possible, remove yourself from distractions and disturbances. I know that’s easier said than done in busy offices and homes, but maybe this is your excuse to make like JK Rowling and find a quiet corner of a coffee shop to work in.

2. What’s the point? – First things first, write down a list of all the points you want to make and put them in some kind of logical order. Doing this will not only get your brain thinking about your audience and what you want to say to them, but it will ensure that you don’t miss any important points when the creative juices really get flowing.

3. Develop your structure – You’ve nailed the main points you want to make, but now you need to frame them up and give the piece some structure. A good structure will ensure the piece flows nicely and keeps your readers engaged. You’ll need a persuasive introduction and a powerful call to action at the end.

4. Break its back – It’s time to start writing in earnest. With your structure in place you should know roughly what you want to say in your introduction and for your first point. My biggest tip for getting started is this - don't attempt to formulate eloquent and clever sentences initially. Pretend you are having a conversation with a friend and explain to them what you are trying to say - then write it down. Be wary of having the conversation out loud if you are in a coffee shop - you might get some funny looks! The most important thing is to put words on the page – it doesn’t matter how clunky they are, you can go back later and polish them up.

5. Sleep on it – Once you’ve produced your first draft, save it (don’t be the person crying in the corner of the coffee shop because you forgot to save the file!) and walk away. Not literally, because someone might run off with your lap top, but sleep on it (again, not literally, that would be uncomfortable) and revisit it with a fresh pair of eyes tomorrow. No doubt you’ll find lots of things to tweak, but that’s all part of the creative process.

6. Keep hydrated – It might seem obvious, but if you feel your creative juices ebbing at any point, reach for a glass of chilled water. Our brains depend on proper hydration to function optimally, and it is amazing what a difference H2O can make! N.b. the 'chilled' part is just personal preference. I find tepid water revolting.

Of course, if you simply don’t have the time or inclination to put pen to paper, then let me help you. I’ll happily take a brief and find the words that will resonate with your audience. Drop me a line today!