Dynamic communication is one of the keys to personal and professional success that I discuss in Straight Talk for Success and 42 Rules to Jumpstart Your Professional Success. If you want to become a dynamic communicator, you need to master three basic, but very important communication skills: conversation, writing and presenting.
Michael Stelzner is an expert is writing white papers as a promotional tool. I subscribe to his ezine. The other day, Michael ran an article by Wendy Meyeroff of www.wmmedcommon.com entitled “Seven Steps for Fighting Writer’s Block.” Wendy is a professional writer and marketing consultant, specializing in the health and mature market industries. Her article was aimed at a professional writer audience, but six of Wendy’s points will benefit anyone who is a little stuck in his or writing.
Take a look…
Start Someplace Else — I've always hated titles, and trying to think of the perfect one can sink me before I start. So the answer is simple: I don't start with the title. I find that once I've written the copy, the solution jumps out of the pages. Maybe it's a quote I've chosen, or something still in my notes that I didn't use due to lack of room. Of course you can use this concept to fight any part of the paper that's your nemesis: the opening or closing paragraph, the subheads, whatever. If the words aren't coming, leave a hole (maybe mark it somehow) and come back to that section later.
Start Highlighting — Sometimes I'm able to keep the various points I know I want to include straight in my head, but when I can't, I feel like I'm sinking into quicksand. So I go through my paperwork, highlight what I think is particularly important, and then number everything. Don't misunderstand; the numbers don't necessarily indicate any final order. That comes next.
Make an Outline — So now that I know what I really want to include (at least initially) I sort through and see what goes with what. I might see that quote number "1," from exec A, is greatly reinforced by a statistic I have someplace else, labeled "23." Together they inspire a common heading that I put down on paper. Eventually I have an outline. I may do more cutting/pasting before I have the final, but that's OK—and it's a lot easier with a computer!
Rehearse a Presentation — Pretend you're facing an audience interested in what this paper discusses and talk it out. I started using this technique when I had to give a presentation about my services at events like chamber of commerce meetings. I locked myself in another room and, working from my outline, spoke it out loud. I found that, inevitably, I would discover points to delete or add as I talked. This method helps me better arrange my outline, and I think of strong phrasing designed to meet my audience's needs.
Put It Aside — A standard rule, whatever you're writing: when you're stuck, walk away. Either literally leave (good for fighting neck cramps and other chronic desk-related problems) or work on something else, like phone calls.
Recognize When You're Dawdling — Maybe this project bores you. Maybe it's one you took on just because there were some unexpected bills to pay. So you're really not blocked—you're stalling. Be honest with yourself, square your shoulders (good for fighting the neck cramps noted above) and get moving.
I asked Wendy if I could reprint her common sense ideas here. She said “sure.” She added, “You don’t have to have the words ‘professional writer’ or ‘copywriter’ or even ‘communications’ in your job description to benefit from this advice. Most of the folks who ask me to provide them with written materials, are handling some sort of writing project. The six steps above can help you when any writing project threatens to overwhelm you.”
The common sense point here is simple. Successful people are dynamic communicators. Dynamic communicators write clearly and succinctly. However, writing isn’t always easy. Wendy Meyeroff’s suggestions for fighting writer’s block — Start Someplace Other Than the Beginning, Start Highlighting, Make an Outline, Rehearse a Presentation; Put It Aside; and Recognize When You’re Dawdling – are great common sense ideas on how to get your thoughts and ideas on paper in a way that really communicates.
That’s my take on Wendy Meyeroff’s ideas for overcoming writers’ block. What’s yours? Please leave a comment sharing your thoughts with us. As always, thanks for reading.