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Nine Karate Moves to Crack Through Writer’s Block

We’ve all been there – stuck staring at a blank screen, a blinking cursor throbbing in time with our headache. Public relations professionals are called upon daily to write all kinds of documents: press releases, pitches, corporate communications, marketing materials, newsletters, photo captions, and more.

In fact, any PR practitioner will tell you that good writing – not to mention quick composition under deadline and effective crafting of messages – is absolutely essential to their job.

So what happens when writer’s block plops down on your keyboard? It can hit at any time, usually when you’re already a bit burned out. But take heart. You can power through writer’s block with a couple well-placed karate chops. Try a few of these techniques, and let the prose flow.

  • Are you stuck on your opener? Write the last paragraph instead. Then, write the second to last; and third to last; and so forth, until the opening line takes shape.
  • Change the scenery. Do you usually write at your desk? Take your laptop to your kitchen table instead.
  • Stuck on a particularly ornery turn of phrase? Can’t find a way to phrase a thought? Instead of writing it, speak it out loud. Speak into your phone’s voice recorder if you need to, and transcribe it later.
  • Just do it. Write about anything. Switch to another writing project, write a diary about your day, write about not being able to write. Just get the words moving, and soon they’ll start moving in the right direction.
  • Organize, organize, organize. Create an outline of your piece’s structure. Keep filling in details until you’ve got a path laid out in front of you – then, just follow the yellow brick road.
  • Having trouble finding the right phrasing? Here’s an exercise that can help. Do a Google Image search for images related to your topic, and mentally or verbally describe them. That might help you develop a turn of phrase or engage some forgotten vocabulary.
  • Use your deadline to your advantage. Force yourself to write a paragraph every ten minutes. Even if what you write is really awful, you’ll have written something, and that’s a starting point.
  • Do something active – ride your bike, take a walk, go for a swim – for half an hour. Getting the blood flowing is shown to improve cognitive function, and it just might get the ideas flowing too.
  • If you don’t even know where to start, try mapping your ideas out visually. Draw a flowchart or word cloud to organize your thoughts and the touchpoints of your piece.

 

What’s your top tip for breaking out of writer’s block? Share it in the comments.

What’s up November? Bring it on!

October 18, 2011 Leave a comment

Heavens, November is shaping up to be a busy month – bring it on!. Forget Thanksgiving travel and cooking; there are some excellent conferences here in Miami as well, two of which I have the honor of participating in. Here’s some info on both events and what I’m planning to run my mouth about.

Women In PR

November 4-6: First annual Women in PR Summit!

Anyone who knows me knows I love participating in organizations that work to advance women’s careers. I served on the board of directors of the Association for Women in Communications South Florida chapter for three years (one as communications chair, two as president) and do pro bono publicity for BadassBusinesswomen.org – if you don’t know this organization and its leader, the charismatic entrepreneur Jessica Kizorek, you should. At the Women in PR Summit, I’ll be participating in a panel discussion on how PR is evolving into a digital business. I’ve put down my thoughts on this before; here’s an earlier blog post on how social media is creating a whole new generation of journalists. Click here for more information on the Women In PR Summit and how to register.

November 10-11: The Women’s Success Summit IV – “Risky Business.”

Another fantastic conference devoted to boosting women in business. Says founder and organizer Michelle Villalobos: “Prepare to push boundaries, take leaps of faith, raise bars and take yourself, your business or your career to a whole new level, while being surrounded by hundreds of Miami’s most ambitious, successful women. In honor of our new venue, Gulfstream Park, the theme of this fourth Summit is Risky Business: Going All In.” I’m delighted to not only be a partner and sponsor of this event, but also a panelist on Buzz Worthy: How To Leverage Your Personality, Reputation & Expertise to Land a Spotlight In The Media. I’m beyond thrilled to sit alongside panelists including major journalists Amara Sohn of NBC News and Cindy Goodman of the Miami Herald. Click here for more information on the summit and how to register.

I’d better see you all at these events. And November, don’t just bring it on… consider it brought.