If you're tasked with writing content for your business's website, blog, newsletter or press releases, you're writing content for professional use. And if you're tasked with doing enough of it enough of the time, you'll start to feel the pressure sooner or later, no matter how years of experience you have at it. What do you do when the blank screen suggests absolutely nothing to you? How do you get literary blood out that overworked cerebral turnip? It's a question we all have to contend with. Here are a few suggestions that I've found helpful.
Zoning out is more productive than you might realize. It might take the form of mild daydreaming about your writing project -- a process Kurt Vonnegut liked to call "woolgathering" -- or it might be closer to a Zen-like state in which you simply think of nothing at all. These practices are highly beneficial to a locked-up, stressed-out creative mind. It not only gives the gray matter a rest, but it also silences the merciless self-critic behind so many cases of writer's block. There's a reason Ray Bradbury kept a sign above his typewriter that read, "DON'T THINK."
Go for a Walk
Many of the great creative minds in history could just as well be dubbed "creative feet," favoring lengthy walks as they pondered the morning's work or the evening writing session to come. It makes a kind of sense if you think about it. The light exercise stimulates cardiovascular performance, pushing oxygenated blood through your brain and improving your mental efficiency. Walking can also be highly inspiring or about as interesting as watching paint dry -- and believe it or not, either of these reactions can give your creativity a boost. You might become charged with ideas from observing the local flora and fauna, or you might find your surroundings so deadly dull that you have nothing to think about except your writing. Walking can also relieve muscular tension, another potential distraction.
"Sleeping on it" is more than just an expression; it's aalso a legitimate way to solve nagging questions and issues when you're working on a writing project (or any other project that requires creative problem solving). Many times my head has hit the pillow in a state of utter confusion, only to wake up with a sense of absolute clarity, the answer to my problem suddenly resembling child's play. Whether your subconscious mind pulled an all-nighter while you slept or your conscious mind just wasn't seeing the obvious due to nighttime fatigue, plenty of sleep can solve plenty of writing worries.
If that writing project is due tomorrow and your brilliance engine just won't engage for love or money, sometimes all you can do is grit your teeth and write the thing. If you have the technique, you'll still manage to turn out respectable, professional-level work. If you're still learning your craft, the result might be rough around the edges -- but hey, that's what revisions are for. Feel your client out on this issue; some want the deadline treated as holy writ, while others will want you to take that extra day if it'll make a significant difference in the first draft. But writing reasonably well even when you're not "feeling it" is the hallmark of a pro.
One last note: Sometimes the best thing that ever happened to a creative project is the addition of a second point of view. If you feel like it's time to get another writer on board, you know who to call! I'll be sure to come running -- unless I'm busy daydreaming, walking, sleeping or writing, of course.