Write? Or… flight, fight or freeze. The stress responses. How you might feel, say, when you’re staring down a blank page and the deadline is tonight and you’re totally stuck and you feel yucky and you’re about to beat yourself up but you need positivity and creativity to create a 15 page ebook on love RIGHT. NOW. And by you, in this conspicuously specific situation, I mean me. RIGHT. NOW. Or, WRITE. NOW. (ha).
You’ve been here too, haven’t you? You have to write content, you haven’t reached out to your audience and your pages have tumbleweeds. You have a new launch but you don’t know what to write about it beyond “buy pls”. You see others making creative social media posts, ads, podcasts, videos… and you’re empty. You might even have an idea – “love! Valentine’s Day!” – but the words are out for the count. Your fingers hover over the keyboard, the cursor blinks reproachfully, the clock ticks.
My stress response? A bit of flight (sleep, denial, distraction) but for the past 4 days? I totally FROZE. I said “I’ve got this”, and then just stared at a blank screen. I felt I had to figure everything out on my own. My brain mocked me: “well YOU’RE the marketer/copywriter/expert, you should know.” It’s a heady mix of putting pressure on myself to know all the answers, perfectionism and defeatism.
What did I do? Give up? NO. This is what I did. This is what to do. Write.
- ASK!! I *didn’t* have to know all the answers, brain. As a copywriter, the job is to ask questions, and re-work the answers, in their voice. As a marketer, the job is to ask what the audience needs, and provide that. As a journalist, I’m trained on interviews. I’m curious; in the process of asking questions I’ll get ideas, read between the lines, see patterns, and ask more.
- So… don’t clam up for 4 days (like I did) and feel intimidated by the new client (like I did), just ask them a bloody question!! I asked them basic questions; their answers gave me the information and sparks I needed. I should have asked them a LOT MORE questions when we first spoke. Lesson.
- GET THEIR VOICE IN YOUR HEAD. Read and listen to ALL of their stuff. My client has a youtube channel, a webinar and has been a guest on a podcast. I listened to those all day, and listen to them going to sleep – and woke up with their voice in my head. That’s what I needed – to be them, in my head. Copywriting is more like being an actor, than a writer.
- KEYWORDS. For new content ideas – Use SEO tools (Moz, SEMRush, Ahrefs + others) to see related keywords, language people use when searching and associations. Look up questions people ask on the subject (Answer The Public, Quora, Reddit). Know the audience – what do they actually want to know? My audience for this = ladies looking for love – so I asked friends (if you have your target audience as friends) and I looked at forums and FB groups for what people talk about. Ask a question on your own social media (“what’s your biggest challenge in your love life?”) and write around the responses.
- WORDS. If you’re still stuck, turn to the trusty dictionary and thesaurus. Even better, an encyclopedic dictionary or a dictionary on the origins of words (etymology). That often sparks something for me. And it was a CLASSIC trick I used in University essays – I started with defining the words of the question, going to the origins of those words, and often finding a different angle to the rest of the class. #nerd ;)
And when words REALLY aren’t flowing? (My muse is a pesky beast).
Go VISUAL. I love art and illustration and those feels.
- DRAW your thoughts, associations (it doesn’t have to be good – it’s not for anyone!) I drew this illustration from the sentence “take the wheel of your love life”. Drawing loosened up the other side of my brain and got things flowing a bit. And it’s just fun!
- BROWSE Pinterest, google images, stock photo and design websites. Search the keywords and titles and topics you need to write on. I searched for love and romance, and it really helped me *picture* what the ladies are dreaming of when they read this ebook.
When NOTHING ELSE WORKS. When it’s midnight last night and I’m too tired and I’m frustrated and I’m completely blank…
Pull an Oracle card. Or a tarot card, or those cards that have a message from the universe.
- ORACLE CARD. I got: “FREEDOM: You always have a choice”. Sure, the choice to go to bed or stay up bashing my head against this writing … But then BOOM! I realised the ebook was ALL ABOUT choices and taking initiative in your love life. I went through and highlighted the theme of CHOICE throughout my notes and found a nice structure and interesting connections.
… So now I’m scrambling to finish it by “the end of the weekend” and I hope this bloody horse is right about what to write.