Ever suffered from The Block? You know… linguistic constipation, leading to dangerous ruptures in your sanity?
Frustratingly, you may know what to cover in your copy.
It’s just the very act of trying to write it down that gums up your innards.
The battle is in your head. In your brain, to be precise. It’s a symptom of creative brain v logical brain.
Writing copy is creative, using words
- to create emotions
- to inspire
- to influence
- to persuade
- to indulge in storytelling.
It’s classic Right Brain activity.
But here’s the catch… it relies on laws of logic as you need
- to evaluate what you’re saying
- to pick the right words
- to worry about opening lines
- to correct spelling
- to put the capital letters at the start of sentences. And fullstops at the end.
This is all very Left Brain, ie you’re running your logic programme.
So what happens when creative meets logic? Do you think they can really occupy the same space without getting under each other’s feet?
Of course not. It’s like two giants lining up a tug-of-war challenge. Sometimes the advantage goes to the left, sometimes to the right. But it’s a battle for supremacy where the only casualty is your deadline.
Want to know how to tackle it? Here are 3 tried and trusted methods which help trick your Left and Right Brain into making friends..
TIP No 1 – Talk, don’t type!
Writing’s inherently left brain. It’s the method you use to record your thoughts. But the method gets in the way of the message.
So abandon your pen, notebook and computer and dictate what you want to say instead. Say it out loud and let dictation software turn it into a document you can edit later. You’ll need:
- Dragon Naturally Speaking – software that takes your spoken file and turns it into an editable text file for PC or Mac.
- A voice recorder – either buy a dictaphone from your local office supplies store, try the voice record feature on your smart phone, or talk direct into your pc.
No-one ever got Talker’s Block. Even if your thoughts are rough and ready, getting them down on paper is the start you need.
TIP No 2 – Start fast
Remember, back in school, there was a day when your English teacher taught you about the structure of a story. You know, the ‘beginning, the middle and the end’ bit? Well he or she probably also threw in there about the opening sentence being the most important line of all because:
- It should set the scene
- It should attract the attention of the reader
- It should blow their socks off.
OK, opening lines are important. But now don’t you feel just the tiniest bit paranoid about writing one? I mean, what if it didn’t adequately set the scene, or it failed to attract attention. What if <gasp> the reader’s socks remained firmly ON?
What we have here is the kiss of death to creativity. It’s hard to be an erudite copywriting Pro with fear in your belly. And many of us have been drilled to effectively fear the opening line cos of its importance.
In fact starting with the first line is exactly that feeling you had back as a teenager plucking up the nerve to ask someone out on a date. You’re walking and talking like a normal – then you see the object of your affections and in a nanosecond you turn into a dribbling wreck. Can’t breathe, think, speak. Also not ENTIRELY sure of bladder control. Suddenly it’s time to make like a banana, and split.
No wonder we suffer from Writer’s Block.
So here’s the cure. Ignore first date nerves by avoiding the first line completely. At least to start with. Instead jump in anywhere where your thoughts are fast-flowing. Choose the bit of the copy you know best, and start there instead.
You’ll get swept along by the sheer velocity of your entry point. You’ll progress.
And once you’ve started and have some momentum, then you can tackle the first line later.
In fact the first sentence will probably wander along when you least expect it, batting its eyelids at you.
All you have to do it pounce!
TIP No 3 – Start with the offer
It’s your final destination. Everything you write should be pointing ultimately to this point. So why not start at the end with the offer.
It’s a great idea to do this anyway. Most people write the article then tack the offer on at the end. See the problem? The most important bit is disjointed from the rest of the presentation. But write the offer first, and you can script the rest around it.
Start with the words: “Here’s what you’re going to get…” then just fill in the bullets covering the product, the offer, plus the benefits.
Once you have this down on paper, you’ll find it infuses the rest of the copy as you write. Your message is threaded through like the sauce in raspberry ripple icecream, not served up as beginning-middle-end 3-separate-colour Neopolitan.
What do YOU find works for you at unblocking The Block? Please do share them below…