Punching Through the Glass Ceiling of Writer’s Block
The world needs to hear more from queer entrepreneurs. Period.
But when you sit down to write, your brain feels like the horrible sound squished styrofoam makes (you know it and hate it as much as I do). The words come out stilted, silly, and just generally not worth showing to anyone.
The real reason why writing is hard isn’t because you had the worst English teacher ever in the 8th grade.
It’s hard because writing means immediate entry into the imposter syndrome zone.
- Is anyone listening?
- Am I saying something important?
- Is this worth my time?
Yes, someone is listening. And you are an expert (I mean, you are running a business. If you haven’t owned your expertise yet, start now). And it’s worth it. No one will buy things from you if they don’t understand what you do or why you do it.
Let’s punch through this glass ceiling of writer’s block together.
I’m Anna Hetzel, conversion copywriter and brand messaging strategist, and you better believe I struggle with writer’s block ALL THE TIME.
Everyone gets it.
But we can overcome it and we all need to.
We need more voices from queer hustlers on more channels.
(insert inspirational music here)
In every section below there is a tool that you can copy/paste/print to remind yourself how to get over that writing hurdle and just get to writing.
Jump to what’s blocking you:
How to get over writer’s block
Deciding what type of content you’ll produce
Not everyone should write. Some people are fabulous in front of a camera. Others are great in podcasts. Others in design or paper collages.
But all of those things do involve writing at some point: Instagram captions, websites, blogs – writing is a necessary evil of running an online business.
Before you even start trying to write, make the intentional decision that THIS is the primary medium you want to work with. It won’t make writing any easier if you’re forcing it.
Start with the medium you’re most comfortable with first and then transfer that energy and knowledge into written words.
Coming up with a (good) idea
Having a ‘good’ idea is so subjective. What you might think is total trash, others might seriously need to read.
For me, coming up with an idea can sometimes mean bashing my head against a wall, hoping a ‘good’ idea will fall out. That rarely works. Don’t try it. It hurts.
When I’m faced with a big idea block, these are the tools I’ve honed over the years to get my fingers typing again.
Tool #2 – Consume things other than business content.
It will give you a chance to shut off your business brain for a second and let something else inspire you.
- Read fiction. True story: I came up with the key messaging for a client by reading a young adult fantasy novel.
- Listen to music. They spin poetry like magic and might drop a word that gets your brain moving.
- Watch an inspiring documentary. Learning about something new can help you make connections back to what you’re an expert in.
Tool #3 – Pay attention to your clients’ words
Do they consistently ask you about something?
Did they drop a fun line somewhere that you could turn into a content piece?
Anticipating your clients’ questions in a piece of content not only shows off your expertise but also helps with client management.
Tool #4 – Exercise or play a game
Taking your mind off the problem at hand (namely – what the h*** to write for your blog this month) is so critical. I really enjoy playing a game, as it gives my brain a different problem to solve other than the blank page taunting me.
Who knows – maybe Settlers of Catan inspires you to write a piece about how building an ecommerce business is like figuring out how to best build your road and where you should create cities for optimum results.
Tool #5 – Go analog
When I get stuck and none of the other tools seem to work, I close my computer and turn to my trusty #2 pencil and just doodle. Physically working an idea out helps me truly see patterns in my thought process. I can circle key words, draw lines to develop a hacked-together outline, and get the ball rolling on whatever I’m working on.
Tool #6 – Talk to yourself
When you’re really stuck on coming up with an idea it’s like trying to shove cheddar cheese through a pasta sieve. It’s gross and doesn’t really work.
Talking to yourself can help create a stream of consciousness that almost every other activity hinders. It allows your brain to relax and be more spontaneous. If you’re weirded out by talking to yourself, talk to your dog or your stuffed animal from childhood (though that may be weirder).
Talk it out and just let the words flow.
Pro tip: record it into a voice memo so you can capture the good stuff when it happens.
Getting something on the page
You have an idea.
Now you have to write about it.
If you have blank page syndrome – do voice to text and just get something on the page.
If you have rambling syndrome, let yourself ramble.
If you have bullet point syndrome, do that.
The point is this: write in a format or style that just lets you have something to edit. Writing is 80% editing, 15% the idea, and only 5% writing.
You only have to put 5% of effort in. You can do that.
I start every copywriting project I do with a shitty draft that my clients NEVER see because it’s truly terrible. Almost everything in it gets scrapped, but I at least have a format I can work from.
Creating content consistently
Why do you need to create consistently? Because doing all this hard work to get over writer’s block does you no good if you only produce one piece of content. Your audience deserves to hear more from you.
That’s right. I used the word DESERVE. You are a queer hustlin’ expert and you have a lot of important things to say. Start saying them consistently, and I guarantee your audience will grow.
Now we just need to make consistent content creation not feel like a chore. Writing is a lot easier when you have a theme, because creativity works best with constraints. It’s scientifically proven.
For whatever medium you decided on at the beginning, give yourself a theme for the next 3 months/year and focus solely on that.
For my weekly newsletter I focus on one word a week and dive into a story, why it’s important, how it is related to copywriting, and an action.
See how I developed a structure? It means I can write my weekly newsletter at 7am and send it out at 8am. I don’t have to stress about how I’m going to get a point across. I can just put my idea into the format and make a pretty solid piece of content without sweating over it.
Practice actually does make perfect when you are working with creative energy.
Know what motivates you to actually get it done.
- Accountability? I have people on my list that expect an email from me every Tuesday at 8am. Even though they probably wouldn’t notice if it went out a bit later, I would feel like I’m letting them down.
- Money? Tell someone you’ll pay them $X amount if you don’t publish something. Or if you consistently publish for the next month, you’re allowed to give yourself a bonus. If you’re not already paying yourself a salary where you could actually give yourself a bonus…start doing that (but that’s a whole other post).
- Food? You’re not allowed to eat [insert your favorite guilty pleasure food here] until you hit publish.
You get the idea.
Just Nike this. Just f-ing do it.
You have the expertise. You have the knowledge.
Please share it with us.
We want to hear it.
And then maybe you can be on this sweet QueerHustle blog next.
— Anna Hetzel
Conversion Copywriter + Brand Strategist
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