When you sit down to write your resume, a marketing piece for your business, or your new novel, a blank white page can be intimidating. What do you put first? How do you grab the reader’s attention? What do you say? Here are some ways to get “unstuck” and free yourself up so you can write more compelling content.
Write Something – Anything.
Instead of agonizing over that first sentence, the first thing you should do is put something on the page so it’s no longer blank. Whether you’re typing on your computer or jotting down notes, just start writing – without crafting anything. This is often called “free-writing”. Free-writing is a wonderful activity that allows you to bypass the inner critic and write whatever comes to mind without second-guessing what comes out.
What you write during this exercise can be used as a resource later, and what you write may surprise you in the end.
If you don’t know where to begin, you can use prompts. Let’s say you started a new business, you’re writing the “About” page for your website. Answer the following questions without judgement or trying to be perfect.
- What is your business?
- What do you do?
- Why are you excited about your business?
- How do you help your customers? Why do they come to you?
- How did you first get the idea for your business or service?
- Why do you love what you do?
You may find yourself going on and on in one answer, and maybe just a few words for another – and that’s fine. Remember, now is not the time to judge, it is the time to generate ideas. The same kinds of questions can be used as prompts for other writing projects. For instance, if you are writing a cover letter, write freely about why you want the job. Ask yourself why you think you’re a good fit, and what you love about the company you want to work for. Talk about your goals, and about what you think you’ll bring to the position. You can make a list or write paragraphs, whatever feels right to you.
Find the Gems.
Now, take a break, walk the dog, grab some coffee, etc. When you come back, look at what you’ve written and circle everything that stands out to you as something particularly interesting or relevant.
Make an Outline.
Then, on a new sheet of paper, write down only the items you’ve circled and expand on each. Organize your points so that it flows (I like to go back to high school here and make a real outline, with numbers and letters, but you don’t have to if that brings back traumatic memories).
Write Your Masterpiece!
Once you have your outline, you have the structure and content you need to start writing the final draft. By loosening up during the process, I’ll bet your writing will become more interesting, more alive. Practice makes perfect, so try this each time you have something new to write.
Do you have another tip? Share it in the comments below, I’d love to hear what has worked for you!