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How to Overcome Writer’s Block: 5 Steps from Blank Page to Publish-Ready Post

This article was first published on the Flow SEO blog.

Regardless of whether you’re a seasoned writer or a startup content marketer juggling many different hats, we all struggle with writer’s block every now and then. However, there are ways to minimize your risk of staring at a blank page for hours and keep those creative juices flowing.

In this post, you can find a writing routine that’ll guide you through the creative process from start to finish. The different steps are meant to offer you a starting point at each of the various stages of writing an article (or any other type of text).

But what if you do enter into a writing funk and need to know how to overcome writer’s block? Then you can scroll to the second part of this post for a collection of tips that’ll help you defeat writer’s block and get right back on track.

How to Overcome Writer’s Block in 5 Steps

1. Keep a running list of content ideas

The best way to prevent writer’s block is to just get started but to be able to do that, you need to know what you’ll get started on. If you first need to come up with an idea, research it, and add it to your keyword plan, you’ll use up a lot of precious brainpower before you even open up your preferred writing tool.

A better way to go about it is to regularly hold a content brainstorming session to come up with new ideas and define which articles should be written first. That way, you’ll always know exactly what to write about next.

2. Go over or fill out your briefing

A blank page can look scary. Luckily, you can avoid it by using a clear content briefing. When you’re a writer working with an SEO or a content marketer, you’ll likely get your briefings from them. If you’re responsible both for the strategy and the writing, or if you only get a topic angle and target keyword to work with, you can still create your own briefing to facilitate the writing process.

The briefing is the first step in turning your content idea into a publishable article. Consider it your ingredient list. It gives you all the information you need but you’ll still need to gather the right utensils to use and figure out how you best combine everything into a tasty dish.

Yoru briefing might include the following elements:

  • article topic
  • search intent
  • target keyword
  • secondary keywords
  • internal links to include
  • CTA to include
  • target word count

These are all things you can arrange on a blank page. Not only does it make you feel like you’ve gotten started on the article (and you have!), it also prompts your brain to start thinking about how you can work with these different ingredients.

Here are some things you can do with the ingredients in your briefing before you even start to write:

Briefing ingredientAction
article topicCheck if you have any related resources you can use and if not, go in search of interesting statistics and expert opinions.
search intentThink of different angles that would match the search intent.
target keywordResearch which articles are already ranking for this keyword so you can analyze both what you need to do the same (for example, follow the same type of article format) and how you can make your article better.
secondary keywordsGo over these and write down any ideas that pop up for headings and subsections.
internal links to includeOpen these in your browser and read them. This will make it easier to integrate them once you start writing.
CTA to includeMake sure you have the correct link or form to add to the CTA. If not, go find it.
target word countGo back to the different angles you came up with and see if any of these is better suited to hit the target word count.

3. Create your content outline

By now, you already should have quite some ideas and material to help you write your article. The next step is to cut up all of your vegetables, put your pans on the fire, and layout all of your utensils so that the cooking writing process becomes a breeze.

Start by writing down a working title and headings to create a rough outline. Then, go over the information provided in the briefing and the research you’ve done and drip them into your content outline. 

4. Fill in the gaps

Now, all that’s left for you to do is weave everything together in a way that guides the reader smoothly from top to bottom. Fill in the gaps, expand on ideas, and give advice. In cooking terms, this is when you add all of your ingredients to the pot.

5. Revise and edit

Before you know it, your first draft will be done. You might be tempted to do a little victory dance and send it off, but I recommend you let it simmer for a bit and revise it the next day with fresh eyes. Chances are, you’ll want to rewrite a few sentences and it’ll be for the better.

How to Get Rid of Writer’s Block When You Really Feel Stuck?

Following the steps above is a great way to avoid writer’s block, but sometimes we just have one of those days and our brains struggle to turn our outline into an engaging article. When that happens, the following tips can help in overcoming writer’s block.

1. Do a sensory activity

When you research how to combat writer’s block, people often advise you to go do something else. While that’s a good tip, I think it needs to be more specific: go do something else that gets you out of your brain and into your senses. Go do the dishes, take a shower, go for a walk, … 

Switch to an activity that keeps your body busy while allowing your mind to wander and before you know it, the start of that new paragraph will come to you as if out of nowhere.

2. Write something else

If you feel guilty about taking a break (unnecessary, but we all have those moments), try writing something else. Reply to an email, respond to a few text messages, journal a bit, or make your grocery list. 

The idea is to write something that doesn’t take a lot of effort so you can get in the flow of writing and then maintain that flow as you return to your article.

3. Read

The more words, phrases, and expressions you know, the easier it is to write. While you could read anything, try reading content that’s loosely related to your industry or the topic you’re writing about. That way, you can try to experiment with angles and perspectives without accidentally copying things over.

Alternatively, go through your company’s blog and open up any articles that could be loosely related to the one you’re writing now. Reading in the same voice you’ll be writing in can make it easier to formulate new thoughts in that voice as well.

4. Change your environment

If the tips above don’t work and you’re still wondering how to get over writer’s block, try to literally change your perspective. Move to the couch (not ergonomic but sometimes you’ve got to do what you’ve got to do), go sit in another room, or pack up your laptop to go work at a coffee shop.

Simply changing your environment can give your brain a little refresh and before you know it, words will come flowing.

5. Write anyway

Still feeling stuck? Write anyway. If I’ve learned anything during my 12 years as a professional writer, it’s that the most important thing is to just get started. Jot down loose ideas, single sentences, word groups, and a paragraph here and there. Write whatever wants to be written and don’t allow yourself to stop for a certain time.

You might have to go back and rewrite it all later, or you might just get into that flow where suddenly, it’s three hours later and you’ve written something you’re proud to put out there.

Overcoming Writer’s Block Doesn’t Need to Be Hard

Many writers struggle with writer’s block but there are ways to both prevent it and deal with it when it does arise. By following a step-by-step process such as the one outlined above, you’ll always have something to write no matter which stage you’re at. 

Keeping a list of good ideas makes it so you never have to waste time looking for a new topic.
Following a content briefing will give you at least one page of material.

And once you start filling in that outline, you’re already writing.

If you do get stuck and want to know how to overcome writer’s block: take a break. Go for a walk, read, write something else, or do another type of creative work. Your first draft might not be perfect, but the more you look writer’s block in the eye and keep writing anyway, the better writer you’ll become, and the easier it’ll get.

Want to try this step-by-step process for yourself? I can get you started with a clear content plan and briefings to follow. Get in touch for more information.