It’s every blogger’s and content writer’s worst nightmare.
It’s something that happens far more frequently that they would like.
What is it?
A blank mind.
They know they have to generate great content quickly to satisfy the insatiable appetite of their readers, but sometimes, just sometimes, the ideas simply won’t come.
Why does this happen?
Probably because of poor writing techniques:
- Sitting in front of a blank screen in the hope that inspiration will strike
- Writing well to start with and then heading off in a long-winded tangent that ends up being deleted, returning them to the blank screen stage
- Constantly distracted by their Twitter feed, Facebook and emails
- Editing and formatting as they write
This doesn’t make them bad writers, far from it, but they are distractions that can seriously block creative flow.
Here’s how you can get around the problem.
Most writers are at their height of creativity first thing in the morning, before their brains get clogged with client work.
That’s the time to sit down with pen and paper and brainstorm ideas. Think about what’s happened that week, conversations you’ve had with clients, articles you’ve read in the papers or news stories you’ve seen on the TV. Draw from everything you can think of and come up with a list of title/outlines for your articles.
2. Choose and plan
Once you have your list, pick the one that really jumps out at you.
But, before you start hammering the keyboard, take 10 minutes or so to write a plan. Whether it’s a list of points you want to cover, a mind map to help you visualise the way the piece will be structured or a general outline, this will help you keep focused and your writing on track.
Once you have your plan, you’re almost ready to get started.
Before you start typing though, switch off Twitter, log out of Facebook and close down your mail client.
It’s essential nothing distracts you so you ideas can flow freely.
Once you have your first draft, read through it, refine it and check it for typos and grammatical errors.
But only when you have a first draft – checking as you write will stifle your workflow and clog up your creativity.
Plus, make sure you set the first draft aside for a while before you edit it.
Now your article is written and you’re happy that it’s error free, you can go back and format it. Add in any bold headings you want, italics and hyperlinks. And make sure your paragraphs are flowing, short and easy to read.
These 5 simple steps will help you avoid wasting hours sat in front of a blank screen.
Keeping a pen and paper with you at all times will help you record ideas as they come to you (you can also record voice memos on your phone), so you’ll always have a supply of great content ideas.
Give it a try and see how you get on.