The pressure is on, the deadline is looming and that blinking little cursor on your still-blank page is absolutely taunting you. Sometimes the hardest part of writing content is simply starting. I’ve made content my career and even I’m not immune to the dreaded blank page syndrome. In fact, when it came time to write this blog post I battled it pretty hard. I opened and closed the GatherContent (the tool Webolutions uses for content creation) project page countless times before the words finally started flowing. Quality content is a crucial part of any marketing mix in today’s digital world of constant information consumption, so letting the blank page defeat you just isn’t an option.
Slay that blank page with some of my favorite content secrets below.
This is perhaps one of my most sacred and powerful writing tools. It’s the first step to busting through any kind of writer’s block, but it is also the toughest to truly execute. Almost everyone staring at a blank page and trying to hold back a tremendous string of swear words directed that that freaking blinking cursor is suffering from one overarching thing – they’re worried what they put down won’t be perfect, or even good. But here’s the thing – you’re drafting. You’re not writing something that is going to be published immediately. You’re not tied to your very first draft. You’re just getting something down. You can cut, add, and polish from there. But you can’t make it better if you don’t let yourself be an imperfect writer first.
Sometimes it’s just the introductory paragraph staring you down that you can’t seem to get through. When you’ve got an idea of what you want the rest of your content to look like, but you can’t seem to get past the “Once upon a time” of it all, the best trick is to skip it. Skip the intro and dive into the ideas that are a little more clear in your mind. The end user experience will be no different, and in fact might be a little bit better, if you write the introduction halfway through or even after you’ve finished the rest of the piece. Some of the best introductions I’ve written were only able to exist after I had the rest of the piece finished.
Bonus tip: if you do write the introduction first – make sure to go back and re-read it when you’ve finished. Sometimes the content has evolved and the introduction doesn’t make sense anymore. Don’t be afraid to go back and edit, if that’s the case.
It worked for school papers, why not give it a shot in your professional content creation? Having your main points laid out in the order you think makes sense gives you a bird’s eye view of the bones of your content. Looking over the subheadings and bullet points will give you an idea of whether or not your structure makes sense and where things might be adjusted or cut before you even dig into the individual paragraphs and start stringing together the sentences that fill in the skeletal version of your content. It saves time and helps get the creative juices flowing more easily when you have an idea of what each section needs to convey.
When all else fails, this is my go-to, but fair warning, it might feel a little silly or even frustrating at first. Stream of consciousness writing is exactly what it sounds like – separate from your actual document, grab a blank sheet of paper or notebook and just start writing (this exercise works best with pen and paper). Whatever comes to mind, even if it’s “Oh my god this is so stupid I don’t know what to write here this is ridiculous.” Keep writing whatever pops into your mind for 5-10 minutes. Then stop. Put the pen down and see what you’ve got. Chances are there’s a gold nugget or two in there for you to work with. This is a great exercise to incorporate regularly if you’re going to be writing a lot of content.
At the end of the day, creating high quality content is hard, but so worth it. When you’re getting frustrated, just remember that even professional writers struggle with getting started. If you’re looking to build your content library into a total content powerhouse for your brand and your audience, it might be time to look at outsourcing with a content partner that cares for your brand as much as you. If that’s what you’re looking for, we’d love to talk. Give us a call at 303.300.2640 or contact us online.
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