In this monthly series, Ask an Acer, we invite one of our talented members to share their expertise with you. February’s post comes to you from Amanda Lee, a skilled freelance journalist and copywriter.
When you have content to create (and don’t we all these days?) you might have a budget to hire a pro like Amanda, but very often we find ourselves facing that blank page on our own and we just don’t know where to start. In this post, Amanda explains three reasons why we might be experiencing writer’s block and gives her pro tips about how to beat it.
WHY MIGHT YOU FEEL BLOCKED?
1) You’re not a writer
Here’s something I learned through spending years writing everything from press releases to snappy tweets to feature stories: Writers are rarely born, they’re made. In his book, The Outliers, Malcolm Gladwell explores the 10,000 rule – the key to success in any field, including writing, is to practice.
Solution: Start now
If you feel compelled to write, that is all the reason – and permission – you need to put pen to paper to fingers to keyboard and share your thoughts and ideas with the rest of the world. Don’t be put off by thinking you have to put in thousands of hours of practice before sharing a blog post.
2) You’re self-critical
Expecting words to flow onto the page like maple syrup on warm, fluffy blueberry pancakes is unrealistic. Sure, sometimes they do. Writers get into the zone and the words do flow. Other times it’s as frustrating as trying to squeeze the remaining ketchup out from the bottle. Author, Neil Gaiman said, “Perfection is like chasing the horizon.” Self-criticism is a sure path to writer’s block.
Solution: The sh*tty first draft
In her book, Bird by Bird, Anne Lamott makes the case for the sh*tty first draft. “All good writers write them,” she notes. I was first given this piece of advice by another (real life!) author I met years ago at a reading. Professional authors embrace the sh*tty first draft. As Lamott says, “This is how they end up with good second drafts and terrific third drafts.” So get some words down on the page – any words. You’ll improve on them in later drafts.
3) You have nothing to say
Chances are, you’re an expert in your field. You know things about the real estate industry, or branding, or creating a sales funnel that your clients don’t. You may think you have nothing to share, but you do. We all do.
Solution: See writing as an act of generosity
To quote Lamott again, “If you give freely, there will always be more. …This is what the writer has to offer.” Inspiration can hit in the shower or while walking your dog. Jot down any ideas you have for a blog post, an e-booklet, or to share on social media. Write about the things that interest you. Write about the things your clients want advice on. Share your knowledge and your unique perspective on the world generously.
These tips should get you started on your own – but if you want to hire an awesome copywriter instead, then Amanda would be a great choice! Besides writing magazine pieces on topics such as travel, parenting, finance, arts, and culture, she has experience writing content for businesses in every sector imaginable. (This native Australian has also earned an MFA from The University of King’s College and is working on a narrative non-fiction book called Finding Opal.)