How to unlock writer’s block: the three phases of writing

2015-07-16

I hate writing. It doesn’t come naturally to me, I have to force myself to write anything longer than five words. You might have read something I’ve previously written and be surprised by me saying this but it’s true; I really dislike writing.

So, I’ll try to fix this. I’m reading a few books (see below) on how to improve my writing and find my flow. Also, I want to share a few tips that helped me get through my writer’s block.

I’ve divided it into three phases, because it’s really important to keep the main writing phase (phase 2) uninterrupted and distraction-free.

Phase 1: Before writing

  • Find a writing tool that you like and where you can work without getting distracted by formatting options. My favorites are iA Writer and Desk.
  • Find a topic you think your audience is interested in, and that you know fairly well. Ask customers or friends about what they would be interested in reading. You can use sites such as BuzzSumo to see what articles get shared frequently. Collect topic ideas in a notepad.
  • Do you really need to research? If you’re familiar with the topic, you can go ahead and start writing, and fact check and fill in missing data later.
  • Nail the headline. It should grab attention, tell the reader what to expect, and be great for search engines. Here’s some headline templates as inspiration.
  • Writing a brief outline is great.

Phase 2: Writing

  • Flow is key. Find time to write, and then start writing without interruption. Fact checking, editing, and formatting can happen later. Write a first draft of your blog post or chapter without stopping.
  • Begin with the most important bit. Don’t “build up” towards the main piece, your readers will fall off before reaching that point.
  • Don’t research while writing. Instead, make placeholders for data points, quotes, and references. You will add these in the third phase.

Phase 3: After writing

  • Complete your research and fill out the placeholders that you left blank in the writing phase.
  • Add an exciting intro to catch the reader’s attention.
  • Make soundbites worth quoting and sharing.
  • Edit your text. Cut it down and simplify, then do it again. You can use the Hemingway app to improve your text.
  • Optional: write a good summary for busy readers.

Bonus: three books that have improved my writing

I’ve found the books below to be really inspiring and helpful in my own writing. Personally, I prefer guidebooks that are short, concise, and clear topic-based chapters and these books all have that:>