Why your writer’s block isn’t real (and how to get unstuck)

Why your writer's block isn't real and how to get unstuck.

You’ve read the headline and you’re shaking your head.

You know writer’s block is real.

You’ve experienced it, haven’t you?

Staring at your page or your screen with your brain giving out nothing but static, as if it’s a detuned TV on full volume.

Well, I’m here to tell you that those moments are not writer’s block.

Writer’s block is a MYTH and I’m calling shenanigans.

The truth is that writer’s block is just an excuse to get out of work.

There, I’ve said it. Saying you can’t write because you’ve got writer’s block is the equivalent of saying, “But miss, I’m sick miss * cough cough *”.

If you take a moment and dig deep, you’ll admit that I’m telling the truth.

For all the posts we copywriters publish, sharing tips on how to make copywriting easy…. It’s hard!

Coming up with creative and unique approaches to well-worn topics is hard.

Writing headlines is hard.

Stringing sentences together in a way that keeps eyes glued to the words, it’s hard.

Crafting a call to action that doesn’t evoke a yawn is hard.

But professional copywriters don’t have the luxury of waiting for a lightning bolt of inspiration. We’re in the business of meeting deadlines and delivering exceptional copywriting when we promise we will.

There is no time to be tired, bored or lacking in imagination.

There is no secret to this

Throughout my copywriting course, I explain (and explain and explain) that solid writing comes out of a solid process.

When you know how to construct a piece of copywriting, the pressure is off. You have a starting point, an outline, a guide to follow. When you know how dig into a business’s story, their audience and their offer (and you do), you can rest easy because you will find the copywriting gold.

When you follow a process, your copy begins to write itself. That’s when your creativity and imagination get a kick up the bum and starts to pull their weight.

So what is the truth behind the myth of writer’s block?

#1 You don’t know enough

If you don’t really know how the product or service works, you can’t zero in on the small but extremely significant details.

When you haven’t done enough research, you can’t see all the possible connections.

If you don’t truly understand the audience you’re writing for, how can you turn those features into benefits that will stop someone in their track?

#2 You don’t know where to start

This is when the blank page really does mock you but who cares what a blank page has to say?

It’s not writer’s block, it’s simply writing without a plan.

#3 You don’t have confidence in yourself

You got the job, you’ve taken the brief but now that it’s time to write a little voice whispers, “Are you really up to this?”

If that is happening, you need to hush that little voice to silence! (Keep reading for some tips on doing just that.)

#4 You’re not in the mood

Perhaps you’ve got a big worry that’s distracting you. Or a more exciting project you’d rather be working on. If this is the case, don’t kid yourself that it’s writer’s block, okay?

How to bust your own writer’s block and get unstuck

Do more research

Fill the gaps in your knowledge. Research the product, the service, business and the industry. Can you get any hands-on experience with the product? Talk to the people who deliver the service? Walk around the business? Talk to an industry body?

I often find interesting angles and ideas start popping out when I’m more physically involved (as in, not simply researching on the computer) in my research. A simple walk around a factory can reveal nuggets of pure gold. If that’s not possible, just seeing what everyone else is doing can help you eliminate yawn-worthy angles for your writing.

Whatever you do, don’t use research as a means of procrastination. Check out more handy procrastination-busting tips.

Do more planning

Copywriting formulas are a great way to give your copywriting some general structure before you start writing. I’ve talked about the Pain-Agitate-Solve formula before as it’s a personal favourite of mine, but there are others.

The classic marketing formula is AIDA, which says that copywriting needs to:

  • attract the Attention of its audience;
  • create Interest and Desire;
  • encourage people to take Action

There is also:

  • ACCA (Awareness – Comprehension – Conviction – Action)
  • AIDPPC (Attention – Interest – Description – Persuasion – Proof – Close)
  • IDCA (Interest – Desire – Conviction – Action)
  • AAPPA (Attention – Advantage – Proof – Persuasion – Action)
  • PPPP (Picture – Promise – Prove – Push)

If you choose to use a copywriting formula, remember that it’s simply a framework to order your thoughts.

Clarify your research by asking yourself:

  • What is the problem being solved?
  • What impact does that problem have?
  • What is the solution being offered?
  • What action do I want people to take?

Just start writing

This sounds so simple because it is.

Set a timer and force yourself to write.

  • No social media. No emails. No phone calls.
  • No pondering for too long.
  • No editing, correcting or formatting.

Just let the words flow and don’t stop…

I find that by forcing myself to write without distractions or editing, I’m more open to ideas and connections (as I don’t overthink what I know).

Even if you’re following a copywriting formula, just do a brain dump on the page and see what you get!

Don’t start at the beginning

For high school and university assignments, I would write the bibliography first. Why? Because it was easy and I started writing. It’s exactly the last tip suggested. Just start!

You don’t have to start at the beginning. I rarely write headlines first and I usually leave a website homepage until last.

Start with some easy copy first. Maybe that’s the contact page.

Or leave the headline and introduction and jump straight to the features. I often leave place markers in my copywriting such as:

Introduction – open with single biggest pain point.


Something about making that pain more visceral.


I start writing here.

Do something else

If you have that big worry I mentioned above, take care of it! If your brain is popping with ideas for the copywriting project that’s more fun, do that instead!

If you’re just in a funk (and it happens) give yourself an hour or so off. Read a favourite novel, watch a movie, go for a walk… get inspiration from the world around you.

Assuming you’re not going to miss your deadline, do what you need to do to remove distractions. When you do, your brain will be unencumbered and free to produce awesome copy.

Give yourself a pep talk

Dan Pinks talked about the internal chat we have with ourselves before a big moment.

He explained that positive self-talk (such as, “you’ve got this!”) is more effective than no self-talk. But he offered an even more effective approach. Ask yourself a question. Like, “Have I got this?” Then tell yourself why you do. You’re reminding yourself of all the reasons you have to feel confident and preparing yourself to be awesome.

If the client booked you, they did so for a reason. So go and prove them right!

Don’t take yourself so seriously

No one’s life hangs in the balance. I hope!

It’s copywriting.

Take a breath, make a coffee and remember that this is just the first draft. Everything builds from here.


16 Responses

  1. Love, love, love this, Belinda.

    I’m a big fan of planning first, answering all the hard questions about who, what, how, why, etc. then setting up a structure.

    It means I can start wherever I choose. Simply getting key words in the right place helps. And it’s impossible to write complete, correct sentences at that point – that’s what rewriting, reviewing, rewriting, reviewing is all about.

    Thanks for your fabulous myth-debunking skills.

  2. Thanks Desolie! My first reply got kidnapped so this is TAKE II.

    You are so write about the rewriting and edit phases. I think we often put too much pressure on ourselves to nail it the first time, when that’s not what first drafts are for at all.

    Cheers for stopping by and validating my myth-busting!

    EDIT: Yes, I know it says “so write” not “so right”. No need to message me.

    1. “You are so write”…. And this is supposed to be a professional writer.

      I do like the advice here, I find it a myth myself but… My confidence in you just dropped a ton.

      Plus you can tell you’re paid by the word. Put words on a page. There.

      Zen and the art of writing.

      It’s communicating, and if that doesn’t come naturally you’re in the wrong business.

      Not the RIGHT one. (Please don’t pretend the “write” comment was a joke!)

      1. I am honoured that you not only read the post Christopher but you read (and proofread) ALL the comments too. Congrats!

  3. great article and I am very pleased to have stumbled across it. I just started a blog and was taking myself to serious and becoming to scared of what other would think.
    I know now that it’s just words and a form of practicing your communication, thoughts and building strong productive habits on your life. You are breathing proof of that Belinda.

    1. That’s so kind of you say Will.

      Never let perfection stop you from making progress. As you say, you have to practise! I often remind myself that the ‘experts’ I follow didn’t start that way… they’ve just have had a lot of practise!

      Onwards. Always onwards.

      Thanks for stopping in.

  4. I read the headline and was like – “Really?” I started reading and couldn’t agree more with pretty much everything that’s in this article. I even started to think that procrastination is something that I used to call “writer’s block”. Last time I had it, I found some priceless advice that kind of sounds like your “Just start writing section”. The advice was that you set a timer for five minutes and just start making a list of things that could be included in your piece, ideas for you next article, or anything that comes to mind regarding the topic you are writing about. You know what? In five minutes everything changes. Awesome ideas just start pouring out and when you read again what you wrote, you get new ideas. I love high quality articles like yours, thanks for sharing!

    1. hehe tricked you with the truth! 😉

      You are SO right though. Everything changes once you begin. Once you start writing, even it’s unrelated, it’s like a door is unlocked. I think most of us just faff about because we’re secretly worried we’re going to write dross.

      Thanks for stopping by and thanks for your kind words! Come back anytime.

  5. This one really helped me a LOT. Thank you so much!

    But, my other concern is, how can we concentrate writing if there are people talking loudly around us? I’m on the process of overcoming the so called ‘writers block’, and now I’m having a problem in focusing on my work. 🙁 thank you. 🙂

    1. Good question!

      So when people are literally talking loudly around me, I pop some earphones in and let my working music drown out the distractions. When I’m writing, I choose music without lyrics so that I’m not distracted but admin in research requires some serious rocking out 😉

      When people are figuratively talking around me, like on social media, I just have to be more disciplined, close down the apps and get on with the job!

      Does that help? I guess the key is learning how YOU work best and how you can recreate that environment where ever you are.

  6. Agree with article but i think we don’t have enough motivation and then we procrastinate writing process. I have 1 tradition which help me a lot. I bet with my friend, just 20$. If i have bette grade money is mine. Its some kind of gamification we have total score 12-9 in my turn)

  7. Everybody hits a wall sometimes, and that’s okay. Especially for creatives like us, there are just those days when you feel like nothing’s coming out no matter how hard you squeeze your brain.

    To be honest, there is some bearing to the other people here saying that your block comes from inside you. But regardless of where it’s coming from, the important thing is that you find ways to get over it

  8. This is SO true! Especially #1 about not knowing enough. Whenever I thoroughly understand a product and target audience, getting started is effortless. When I’m really confused about the product or can’t really explain to someone why it’s so great—that’s when it’s really hard to get the copy going.

    Thank you for the insight!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Want to Hit Turbo on Your Copywriting Business?

Want to Hit
on Your Copywriting Business?

Of course you do.

Find out your copy biz shortcut so you can focus on the actions that will accelerate your business growth.

You’ll learn what YOU should focus on right now (spoiler alert: it’s not all the things) and get a bunch of tips, advice and extra resources to help you take action.

Have Some Feedback?

Let us know if you see any missing content, weird bugs, or just have general feedback about the new site design!