“There’s no such thing as writer’s block!”
If you’ve ever had a conversation with a copywriter or journalist, you’ve probably heard this one before.
And it’s true.
As both a writer for glossy magazines and a copywriter, I can confirm that there’s nothing like the prospect of another dinner of Heinz Baked Beans to get that copy flowing. (If your muse has got her knickers in a twist I got a post coming all about that soon).
Copy blocks though, are a whole different beast.
And it’s a problem I see all the time in the small business owners and entrepreneurs I help to write their own copy and communications.
I like to call it the ‘Ariel Complex’. And the question you’ve really got to ask yourself is who (or what) has really stolen your voice?
Nope, it’s not Ursula the sea witch, and it’s probably not that you can’t write at all.
It is indeed a copy block of some variety, and the trick is finding out which one (or ones) are yours.
The thing is, you may not realise you have one at all, since Copy Blocks are often pretty sneaky little blighters, that creep around in various combinations and degrees.
- They can stop you from knowing where to start with your writing
- Leave you hamstrung and unable to say what you really mean.
- Make you feel anxious about engaging with your audience
- Confuse your message so much that you feel like no-one’s ever going to really get who you are and what you do.
And all the time you think the problem is that you can’t write.
If you’re sitting there nodding your head like one of those plastic dogs on a car parcel shelf, I can tell you now that it’s probably not because you’re a rubbish writer.
Copywriting is not award-winning literature – it’s an art and a science, and if you’re good at what you do, love it, can string a sentence together, and are willing to learn a few simple techniques, you can write half decent copy.
But before you can do that, you need to figure out which block is holding you back, and here are three of the most common:
- #1 FEAR OF BEING SEEN
- Vanilla, boring or bland copy
- Often no copy at all
Deep down you’re uncomfortable with being seen as an authority. Perhaps you suffer from imposter syndrome, you don’t want to come across as a know-it-all, or ‘too big for your boots.’ You unconsciously censor your messaging because you’re worried your friends and family will laugh or be unkind.
Here’s the truth…
It’s time to rip off that plaster. And when you do, you’ll realise the reality isn’t as bad as the thought. People are mostly too caught up in what they’re saying and doing, and how they’re being received, to worry too much about you. The ones who do matter will see your newly vocalised passion and admire you and support you in it. The ones who don’t, will soon be so vastly outnumbered by your new band of loyal fans, that you’ll quickly stop caring.
- #2 PEOPLE PLEASING
- Wishy washy words
- Copy that flip flops from one side of the fence to the other
- Copy that’s been stripped of any personality or passion in order to be as neutral and middle-of-the-road as possible
Common Causes: You’re scared of putting your real thoughts and opinions down in black and white. You may feel totally comfortable talking about them face-to-face or with an audience you’re familiar with, but the thought of putting these ideas out there with no idea who may be reading them, terrifies you. You don’t want to upset anyone. You’re scared of confrontation, and that some people won’t like you, will judge you, disagree with you, call you out, or be turned off.
Here’s the truth…
If you have a powerful message to share, some people will be turned off by you – and you want them to be! Because unless someone is turned off by you, no-one’s going to feel inspired enough to totally fall in love with everything you stand for either. Your copy needs to be Marmite. If you want to create a powerful movement or a loyal following, you’ve got to be unapologetic with your messaging. So it’s time to write for your soulmate clients and customers alone, because they’re the only ones you want to attract (and the rest won’t bother reading anyway).
– #3 UNDERCOOKED MESSAGING
- You dread being asked “So what do you do?” because you have no idea how to answer in less than 3,423 words
- You have a clear idea of what your message and mission is inside your head, but when you try to put it in to simple, coherent and easy-to-grasp ideas on the page or in conversation, you end up with confused, smattering of thoughts and ideas with no common thread.
Cause: Your problem is clarity. You’re trying to write copy and communications without having done the work to crystallise your messaging. This is the writing equivalent of someone asking for a slice of cake, and you serving them up a raw egg, some butter, sugar, flour and a whisk.
Here’s the truth…
Good messaging is crafted. If you’re lacking clarity, it’s time to start putting down the component parts of who you are, what you do and what makes you different into black and white. You then need to spend some time figuring out how those ideas fit together and look for common threads.
Think it’s something else?
It’s true, there are lots of incarnations of copy blocks, and if you can’t have a 1:1 with a messaging expert, a really good way to get to the bottom of this, is to sit with your copy and ideas and see what feelings rise to the top.
- Where you are not being authentic, ask yourself, why?
- What is holding you back from saying what you really mean?
If you want your communications to attract your soulmate clients and turn them into fans, followers and customers, this work is worth doing.
Want to know what questions you should really be asking about your dream customer? Download your free Better Questions to Ask About Your Soulmate Clients Worksheet here.