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10 ways to refocus when you’re stuck

Copywriting is sometimes fun, but often frustrating and rarely easy. A writer feels pressure to be creative on demand every day, and to stay focused amid a swarm of distractions. Here are some tips that might help you get back in creative flow when language isn’t coming easily.

10. Switch to handwriting. If you’re a fast typer, you might pace yourself a little slower, and engage some different kinds of thinking, when you have to write something by hand.

9. Ride public transit. Try riding a train, a bus, or a ferry with your notebook in hand.

8. Don’t write. Draw. Think about whatever it is you’re supposed to communicate, and doodle a picture of it. Then jot down words that describe your sketch.

7. Eat a muffin. I can’t explain why muffins inspire writers. They’re like energy food for the creative part of your brain, or something. It might not be the muffin itself, but the act of walking to the bakery and picking one out. I should totally write an ad for muffins.

6. Exercise. Run, bike, row a boat, whatever you enjoy. Getting your heart pumping blood is good for your whole body, including your brain. You’ll feel the difference.

5. Cook. Cooking requires you to start with raw, unpalatable ingredients and combine them, with careful application of heat and chemistry, into something delicious. Writing’s like that.

4. Rewrite magazine ads. Pick up a magazine. Flip to an ad. See if you can do a better job of writing to the same art.

3. Go for a walk. Walking flexes the brain the same way it flexes the legs. Travel light. I find I come up with better ideas when I’m not carrying anything, probably because I’m not worried about losing something.

2. Talk to someone older than you. Call your parents or grandparents. People from different generations speak with different idioms, slang, and pacing. To be mutually understood, the two of you will probably talk plain, honest language. That’s the kind of voice you should write in.

1. Slow down. The first version of this post went live with only 9 tips, even though the headline said 10. Why? I was rushed. I should follow my own advice and pace myself. Quality trumps quantity every time.

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Pencil image © JR Trice/Shutterstock

— By Daryl Lang. Filed under Copywriting

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