2 Ways that Writer’s Block Is Your Problem

This post was written by John White on Wed, 09 Mar 2011 07:48:09 +0000
Posted Under: process of writing,rapport with writer,writer's diseases

Marketing managers depend on copywriters. Writer’s block is the bane of copywriters. What if marketing managers have something to do with writer’s block?

I don’t like to make a lot of writer’s block, or whatever name you want to give to hitting a productivity wall.
Hit the wall
It isn’t that I don’t believe in it. It’s more that it doesn’t really help me as a construct. Like the Garden of Eden or the Tooth Fairy, it’s a name for something that I honor in other people’s belief systems but don’t really accept in my own.

So here’s writer Melissa Karnaze posting on writer’s block as your secret weapon, with a six-step guide to unblocking yourself. Use it in good health.

As a marketing manager, do you think you have anything to do with writer’s block in the people who generate your content for you?

Maybe you do.

1. Writer’s block and the audience

While I don’t want to call it writer’s block, there are plenty of times when I’m staring at the blank page or the unfinished paragraph, then staring at the clock, then back at the page.

“Funny,” I think, “I don’t have this problem when I’m writing e-mail to my high school friends.”

“It’s the audience,” I reply. “You know what to write to your friends, and it’s interesting to you and you know that it’s interesting to them. That is not going on here, so you’re stuck.”

Dave Navarro posted a couple of years ago on ending writer’s block forever:

If you put your focus on what your audience wants to read (rather than what you want to write), the whole game changes — and the shift is in your favor.

Professional writers don’t usually call up their clients and moan, “I have writer’s block, and I can’t finish this piece for you.” However, you may get a call that goes, “You know, Claudine, I need to understand the audience for this article better. Can you connect me to somebody who knows the intended reader very well?”

Part of your job in assigning a piece to writers is to tell them what you want written. The other part is to tell them whatever you can about the ideal reader. The folks at Savvy B2B Marketing write extensively about the role of defining the buyer persona in creating content, and they’re right.

2. Writer’s block and the drone

I call it the drone because that’s what how it would sound if I didn’t bust my chops trying to fix it (and succeeding).

The drone arises when you tell the writer to give you six different pieces on the same topic, and about the only difference among them is the channel or medium.

“I need copy on childhood obesity in grades K-8,” you tell the writer. “The audience consists of social workers. I need a 4-page paper, a newsletter feature, a page for the Web site, a print article and a blog post. And I need to link them together so that they reinforce one another.”

You’re asking for writer’s block, because there are only so many ways to say the same thing and have it resonate with the same audience, no matter how much you spread it out. You’ll do better to work with the writer on different angles to the childhood obesity issue.

It’s easier for a good writer to search for and vet different angles on a topic than to try to say the same thing in different – but not too different – ways.

Help your writer avoid writer’s block

Are you surprised that there are things you can do to keep your writer’s pen moving smoothly? Has your writer ever mentioned writer’s block to you?

John White of venTAJA Marketing is a marketing communications writer for technology companies. He posts about technology writing from the perspective of the marketing manager. It’s dirty work, but somebody has to do it. Download his eBook, “10 Questions to Ask When Hiring Your Marketing Communications Writer.”

photo credit: Brian Tomlinson

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