Chances are, you don’t need a topic. The first dozen you left on the cutting-room floor still have potential. What you probably need is reassurance. You’re here for a couple possible reasons. You might just be struggling to get the words out of your head and down on paper. Maybe you’re worried your ideas are flat or unoriginal. You could be under pressure to constantly publish more content and keep up with the competition—which can lead to frustration and writer’s block. Perhaps you’re also here because you spend time comparing your work in progress to what you’ve seen in the marketplace and believe it comes up short.
Any number of things can contribute to writer’s block, and we’ve all been there—editors, marketing professionals, subject matter experts, and writers. Those establishing their own creative process can use the strategies below to push past the block and produce top-notch content.
Embrace uncertainty. You might just have to accept that this hindrance is part of the process, and still get the words down. Yes, there will be gaps to fill and issues to fix, but all will be resolved. The ideas, and the piece itself, will take shape. Knowing this outcome—that the end result will be fine—can help authors feel comfortable with and navigate the uncertainty that exists at the very beginning. Eventually, that uncertainty can even help fuel the process. Getting to work through ideas and drafts is a writer’s luxury; when we start with an undefined narrative or fresh canvas, there’s a reward waiting on the other side, when the ideas crystallize, and we achieve the clarity we’re looking for.
Reliving past positive outcomes can help. So often, we dedicate excess time mentally replaying our missteps, while barely acknowledging our successes. Shifting your focus to such prior achievements can alleviate tension and serve as a reminder that you’re capable of getting through this task at hand.
Start reading. When putting pen to paper, or hand to keyboard, seems impossible, take a minute to read. The more topics crossed, the more knowledge gained, and both will bring forth new story angles to be applied in your own writing. If you haven’t already widened your range of reading material from your favorite subjects and authors, now’s the time. Reading a mix of content will also increase your appetite to write more consistently, which can have a positive impact on your writing confidence.
Seek guidance. You’re already on the right track with this query by seeking out this post. While you’re here, feel free to browse the archives. We suggest starting with our overview of the editorial process, but in these pages you’ll also find content marketing, editing software, writing, and storytelling tips that can help improve your creative process and boost your confidence. We also highly recommend having a trusted editor revisit those rough drafts. Knowing another set of eyes will be on the piece will help tackle writer’s block by taking off some of the pressure to be perfect.
Ignore guidance. The number of authorities offering bad advice is probably as great as the number of people whom you imagine can write circles around you. We advocate avoiding a one-size-fits-all trap when approaching your creative process and building writing confidence. Perspectives are just that—not mandates. Take only what you need and find fitting.
Put pen to paper. While not everyone’s favorite strategy, outlining is effective for structuring ideas and getting started. Just save yourself from unnecessary hassle and avoid perfecting the formatting of the time-consuming, formal, Roman numeral outline of yesteryear. Freewriting can be helpful too. Allow the piece to be bad, given that it will eventually go through a few rounds of copyediting, fact-checking, and proofreading. Develop better clarity by stepping away from your writing; a fresh set of eyes will reveal how clear your thoughts are and uncover possible errors.
Writing is a powerful means for conveying authenticity, putting forth new information that rivals the competition, and solidifying your place as a subject matter expert. As with any project, writing requires a substantial amount of effort and practice to arrive at a polished product. But don’t let that anxiety deter you. With time, you’ll learn to tackle your fears at the beginning of the process and overcome self-doubt to build your writing confidence.