Tackling writer’s block

Tackling writer’s block

If you ever get writer’s block, this one’s for you.

Even after 25 years writing for a living, I still feel the fear when it’s time to get my ideas down. My favourite trick to get things flowing is to chunk up the copy. Here’s how I do it:

Start with the word count. (If you don’t know how many words you’re aiming for, find out! If you’re writing without a clear brief, it’s no wonder you’re feeling blocked!)

Now, forget the ideas – just think about how many words you have available to you and break the total into chunks. Here’s how.

If you’re writing an 800 word blog, you’re probably looking at something 100 words for the intro and 100 for the conclusion.

That leaves you with 600 words to play with. In a piece of that length, you probably can’t explore more than three main points. So you might allocate 200 words to each.

You’ll end up with something like this:

Intro                 100
Concept 1         200
Concept 2         200
Concept 3         200
Conclusion        100

If you’re still stuck, chunk it down even further. Each of those sections will probably include what the idea is, how it works, and then a bridging passage: something to link that idea to the next so that the piece nicely flows. So you could subdivide each one to:
Idea 1
– Introduce concept                               70
– Explain how it works, pros and cons     70
– Analysis/bridging passage                    60

Each of those mini-chunks is about two sentences long. However jammed you are feeling, you can probably force out two sentences. They don’t need to be good – you can always rewrite them later. Just get them down.

One tip: Tackle the sections in the wrong order. The fear sets in when we look at the big picture. Instead, take each chunk one at a time and before you know it, you’ll have a first draft. Then you can read it through, edit and make sure the whole thing hangs together.

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