Your boss has asked you to write an article on how to take care of cats. The laptop is open and the screen is eagerly awaiting to be filled with words that are interesting, intelligent and informative.
The clock ticks, another minute passes. Time for a coffee. You gently close the laptop so it doesn’t keep staring back at you, ghost-like, blank.
Coffee consumed, back to the screen. There it is, naked, virginal. The room seems a bit hotter, the palms a bit sweatier. Must be time to check the emails. You’re sure you have a message that needs an urgent reply.
Emails dealt with, pens straightened, ruler lined up. You take a depth breath and hover your fingertips over the keyboard ready to pound the keys as the words tumble out. But wait, now your mind has succumbed and joined the screen—blank— all thoughts erased clean.
It’s the hardest part of writing isn’t it? The getting started.
So, how do you get started?
How do you get those hovering fingertips to land on the keys, giving birth to clever and wise words?
Well like most things we do, we make a plan.
Planning is a key strategy when we do anything. Yet when we go to write, we sit down in front of a screen and expect to come up with content that is clear, concise and delivers our message with a bang. All without thinking it through.
Brainstorm everything you know about looking after cats.
- What is the purpose of your writing?
- Who is your audience? Who will be reading this, who do you want to read it?
- What information does your audience need to know, what do they already know?
- What benefits will the reader get from reading the article? They will be asking what’s in it for me so you need to answer this for them.
- What objections might your readers come up with? Address them in the text.
- What is the context?
So you now have a plan—and a blank page.
So imagine you have to write a Facebook post or a tweet on the subject. Easy. You post to Facebook several times a day.
On Facebook and twitter, you don’t have a lot of space and are limited to the number of characters you can use. But you always manage to come up with something witty or interesting. You are concise and clear and engage your readers with the latest thing going on in your life or business.
This could be your starting point. Write it down. Your blank page now has content. You have begun. The hardest part is complete.
Of course, if all else fails you could contract a business writer to help you out. You can focus on being an expert in your business, knowing that your blank screen will soon come to life in the capable hands of another expert.
Sue Avison is Director of Say it Once – Business Writing for Success. If you want some help with content writing, business documentation, newsletters, web text, you can contact Sue, she loves a blank page!