A crusty newspaper editor’s “cure” for writer’s block
During my senior year in college, I spent a semester living in Washington D.C.
And while I was there, I worked as an intern (I preferred the term “cub reporter”) at The Washington Times.
For the first few weeks I thought everything was going great—
I’d met my deadlines and had several articles published in the nationally circulated newspaper—a real thrill.
But then I saw my editor’s comments on my mid-semester evaluation…
She REALLY smacked me around.
Her comments stung—some were deserved, others were unfair.
There was one nugget of gold hiding in her withering critique though:
“Josh needs to get out from behind his desk,” she wrote. “News happens ‘out there.'”
Ouch—guilty as charged.
I was 100% focused on writing stories to build my “clip file.”
What I discovered, though, was that hunkering down at my desk for days on end, trying to come up with ideas to pitch to my editor…
That was a sure-fire path to writer’s block.
The more I racked my brain, the more the ideas seemed to evaporate.
I hear echoes of that desperation I sometimes felt in a question from aspiring copywriter Lori. She says her biggest challenge is:
Coming up with the right format and basically the words to be interesting enough to read…other than buy this.
My mind goes to the benefits of what it is or details of what it is. Need to have more emotion.
I have pulled up the keywords and phrases from my capture page and sales page but I just draw a blank.
There’s a horrendous lie that many writers have bought into, and it’s this:
“The answers are within you. All you have to do is learn to tap that inner wellspring of creativity and your beautiful words will gush forth and change the world.”
What a load of bull.
“Looking inward” when you’re stuck is the fastest route I know of to utter paralysis as a writer.
That’s because no one creates in a void.
As master copywriter Eugene Schwartz put it, “Creativity is connectivity.”
Creativity is taking two contrasting and seemingly unrelated ideas and connecting them in a new and interesting way.
And just like I learned as a cub reporter, before you can make those connections, you have to get OUT of your own head and world.
So to Lori I say:
It sounds like you’re just not ready to write yet.
When I hit that blank wall, it’s my signal to “get out from behind my writing desk” and do more “reporting.”
Talk to the people in your market. Scour forums for interesting comments. Read relevant magazine articles and blog posts.
Do this for a while, and before long you’re going to have ideas popping into your head so fast you can hardly keep up.
THAT’S when you know you’re really ready to write.
Now when inspiration is boiling over like this, the last thing you want is to start stressing over the mechanics of molding all these ideas into coherent copy that sells.
You want to be able to sit down at the keyboard and just let the copy flow.
And far and away the best way to develop this ability is to sit down and write out proven, successful ads from master copywriters… with a pen… on paper… in your own hand.
Talk to the top copywriters out there—the ones earning 6 and (in a few cases) even 7 figures from their writing—and you’ll discover that they ALL did this.
That’s the premise behind CopyHour—a 90-day copywriting crash course.
It’s the 1-2 punch that eliminates “copywriter’s block” for good:
Your “reporting” will show you what to say…
And with CopyHour you’ll know HOW to say it.
The doors open tomorrow—sign up here I’ll shoot you an invite.