How to overcome writer’s block
Ever hit a roadblock while trying to write a column or article? As hard as you try, you just cannot come up with a topic. You’ve hit the brick wall that has bedeviled authors for centuries: writer’s block.
What to do? Well, you could bang your head against the wall, but that would hurt a bit. And not really give you any good ideas, except on how to deal with a headache. Writers, after all, are problem solvers. Writer’s block is just one more hurdle to overcome. The following steps will help you come up with suggestions for your next column or article.
First, keep in mind what I call the Four Universal Themes. They are:
– Customer Service
– Increasing sales
– Decreasing costs
Business people can relate to all four categories, whereas consumers are likely to find the first and fourth themes most appealing. Use one of these as the basis for your column. Where do you turn for topic ideas?
Reflect on your experiences Sounds simple and obvious, but this area is often overlooked, especially by those involved in B2B writing. What have you experienced while shopping, vacationing, taking a walk, or ordering online that you can use as the foundation for an article? Readers hunger for stories, especially those that offer helpful suggestions or uplifting messages.
Think deeply. Even the mundane can be made useful to someone else with the right kind of angle. Perhaps the topic is totally unrelated to your business. That’s fine. It’s the moral that you’re trying to tell. Your readers learn a valuable lesson by reading about your experience. You, in turn, may develop a following, which is important for a successful blog and other online platforms. Over time you will develop a knack for writing those types of articles.
Other people’s experiences We’ve all attended a function wherein someone recounted a challenging time in life–perhaps a life-threatening illness or injury–but came out of it and is now on a new path in life. Weeks or months later you realize that would make a great foundation for a column. Of course you didn’t take good notes then. No matter. Contact the speaker anyway. He or she would be glad to retell the story.
Think of a problem to solve What are your readers having difficulty with? Generating leads? Closing sales? Fixing their cars? Growing vegetables at home? Whatever is bedeviling them is a great topic for your column. Put yourself in their shoes or work boots, and picture away out of their dilemma. You’ll overcome writer’s block in a hurry!
Trade association materials Tap into the information provided by your trade association via its Web site, trade journal, or newsletter. You’re particularly interested in trends. As a leader, you take pride remaining knowledgeable about your firm and industry. But you can’t expect to be on top of it all. Trade association folks do that for a living, and post their thoughts in magazine articles, Web columns, and other places.
The Web As you know, there is a nearly unlimited supply of information and ideas available via the Web (Internet). Government agencies, especially at the federal level, are great resources, and are constantly issuing reports, generating new data, and otherwise providing useful information. Check out the Census Bureau, EPA, FTC, SEC, and other agencies for ideas to use for your articles. Remember to attribute appropriately.
I’m sure there are other sources, but these will get you started. Writers are known for being resourceful. The next time you’re at wit’s end for a topic, try one of the solutions listed here. Writer’s block, you will find, is but a temporary condition. Before you know it, you’ll be typing furiously on your next column.
For related reading, see “Minimize jargon to ensure a clearer message” and “Detailed requests for information produce more valuable results.”
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