Here's a Simple Cure for Writer's Block

Brian on 6th of Nov 2015

Here’s a Simple Cure for Writer’s Block

Writer’s block is the enemy of content creators everywhere. Anyone who’s sat down at their MacBook to write blog posts, website copy, or customer stories knows that writing is hard. Not all of us are Buffer’s Kevan Lee, after all. In this post, you’ll learn a simple process (adapted from the Book in a Box method) that hacks writer’s block and speeds up content creation. It’s especially helpful for:

  • Business owners who are experts in their field, create their own content, and are looking for a way to share their hard-earned wisdom while reducing the pain of writing

  • Content marketers, company bloggers, and copywriters who’d like to access and share their company’s knowledge and insight (or just crack their own writing woes)

The process is slightly different for both, but based on a simple premise: There’s no such thing as talker’s block. To illustrate, we’ll focus on the bread-and-butter of most company’s content strategy: the blog post. We’ve found that once core content has been tackled on a blog, it’s easy to repurpose into a lead nurturing email, ebook, and so on. Let’s get started.

Step 1. Nail down a post topic

The most important component of a remarkable blog post is helpful and relevant content that meets the needs of your ideal reader. Scannable lists and the right word count won’t save you if your content misses the mark. With that in mind, choose a topic that teaches your audience a new skill, strategy, or way of thinking. Your goal is to inform and inspire. Staying in touch with great content, whether you’re a rawkstar e-commerce business or a hardware startup, earns the trust of leads who will buy from you when the time is right. Content Marketers: Don’t limit yourself to your strongest topics or ones that are researchable on Google. Look to others in your company who can give expert insight your readers will clamor for. Business Owners: Remember that your insights are often a goldmine for your target personas, even if they feel normal because you live and breathe this stuff.

Step 2. Record an expert on the subject

This is how to hack writer’s block… Record the expert, or yourself. That’s it. As I recorded myself talking through this post for 7 minutes with the Voice Memos app on my iPhone, I came up with more content than I could have in 60 minutes of trying to write because I wasn’t getting hung up on the writing part. The same applies to interviewees who you’re gleaning knowledge from: they can just talk about the topic they already know a ton about.

Step 3. Transcribe the recording

Now it’s time to put the recording down on paper, so you won’t be staring at a blank screen when you sit down to write. You can either:

  • Transcribe it on your own, which is more time-consuming but helps the content take root in you. This option is your best bet if you’re on a budget.

  • Delegate it to someone else. Pass off the transcription work to another person on your team or use a service like Speechpad to do it for you. Speechpad costs $1.00 per minute and has clients like Netflix, Kissmetrics, and Salesforce.

I’ve done both approaches. I recently transcribed the “Introducing Headsup: In-App Messaging for Customer Journey Marketers” webinar that I’ll transform into a blog post and customer story for our website. I could’ve sent it off to Speechpad, but wanted to intimately know the content to better tell the story. Deciding on a case-by-case basis to do-it-yourself or delegate is more effective than creating a hard and fast rule.

Step 4. Dig for treasure in your transcript to create an outline

Once your transcript is complete, it’ll look a little something like this Speechpad screenshot… Speechpad Screenshot Your job is to dig through the transcript and find the main ideas, which form the sub-headlines of your blog post. From here, read through the transcript again and look for the chunks of text that expand on each sub-headline, also known as your body text. Every time I use this process, the transcript looks a lot like lorem ipsum dummy text. This is perfectly fine because you have a rough draft! You’re almost to the finish line.

Step 5. Sculpt the language to create a post

The last step is to transform this from audio transcript to written copy. Some tips:

  • Take a short walk to clear your mind and put on your editor’s hat

  • Use Parkinson’s Law to your advantage by assigning the right amount of time to the task

  • Write section by section, you’ll be done before you know it

Bye bye writer’s block

The end result is a blog post that looks like other blog posts you’ve created, but what’s different is the process that went on behind the scenes. It’s faster and will help you rev your content engine. By adding this to your normal workflow, as a content marketer or business owner, you’ll be well on your way to creating great content to use for lead nurturing, staying in touch with customers, and ultimately growing your business. Do you have any hacks to speed up the writing process? Or any tips to overcome writer’s block? Let us know in the comments.

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