10 Steps For Overcoming Writer’s Block

It’s pretty pathetic when the “content manager” of an internet marketing company has very few posts on said company’s blog. So, I’m trying to rectify the situation. It’s time to step up, put my blogging hat on, and get to work. I’ve been told by many different people that I’m a good writer…but I personally don’t feel as though I’ve actually proven it. Sure, I’ve written some articles, posts, website copy and even ebooks, but a lot of the stuff I write that I really like never winds up seeing the light of day.

So I’m making 2009 my “year of blogging.” Get ready to start seeing me crank out more content, both on this site and hopefully as a guest poster for several other sites.

Of course, we can’t all be rockstars and write rockstar posts like David Brown. Mainly because if all of us were as confident (read:cocky) as Brown here in the office, our heads wouldn’t actually fit through our doors. (Sorry Brown, you know I love you!). Besides, when you’ve reached a certain level of success and made connections the way he has, you deserve to be a bit cocky.

That being said, I wanted to set out and make my first post of 2009 an awesome one. So I sat down to think about what I wanted to write about. And I sat. And I sat. And then I ate something. And then I sat some more.

Ahh, Writer’s Block 2009

Image of Writer’s BlockAnd, just my luck, I got smacked in the face with a big bag of writer’s block. As a writer, especially in the SEO world, it often feels like everything has been said before. And it has, with the exception of when you’re lucky enough to be the first on top of a breaking news story.

For instance – there are THOUSANDS of articles on writing and writer’s block, but here I am, writing the 54,873rd post on it. Because when it comes down to it, it’s not so much about what you’re saying, but how you’re saying it. It’s about engaging your readers and keeping them interested.

It’s about your writing voice – does yours flow? Is it fun to read? Or are you a big bore? I don’t have a magic answer that will instantly make your writing more interesting. However, I do have one big suggestion, one that not only got me over my writer’s block but has helped me to develop my own voice and style as I grew up.

And the 10 Steps Are…

But before I give you my suggestion, I would take a peek at Brian Clark’s “10 Steps to Becoming A Better Writer,” a short post he did on Copyblogger back in 2007. I agree with his post, but I think he could add 10 more steps:

  1. Read.
  2. Read more.
  3. Read even more.
  4. Read even more than that.
  5. Read when you don’t want to.
  6. Read when you do.
  7. Read when you have something to learn.
  8. Read when you don’t.
  9. Read every day.
  10. Keep reading.

I read. A lot. Blogs, articles, magazines, the occasional newspaper, you name it, I’ve read it. But I believe it is my love for fiction, both quality AND trashy fiction, that has really given me my writing skills. I probably read at least 1-2 novels a week, sometimes short, sometimes long. Shoot, I’ve banged out 4 this week alone (I don’t get much sleep). Literary novels. Romance novels. Fantasy and Sci-Fi. Christian Fic. Mysteries and horror. You name it, I read it.

I gained a large vocabulary from reading (nevermind that I can’t pronounce half of it). I gained an instinctive feel for grammar and spelling (not that I am anywhere near perfect, grammatically speaking). Most importantly, I’ve developed a style all my own by voraciously consuming other authors’ styles.

Keep It Short, Sweet and To The Point

So how did I overcome my writer’s block? I read. Mostly blogs this time around. And suddenly, I felt the urge to write. Granted this blog post is unnecessarily long but hey…it’s the first of 2009. Cut me some slack.

Perhaps next time I’ll write on the importance of keeping blog posts short and sweet. That is definitely something I need to work on. New Year’s resolution: Keep blog posts under 500 words, unless it’s really, really important.


The Worst “About” Pages In SEO Today

So, I will easily admit I am a MySpace, Facebook, and “About” page stalker. I use the first 2 to keep up with friends and former acquaintances and acquaintances of acquaintances that I don’t actually talk to on a regular basis.

Yes, I want to know if you broke up with your girlfriend or boyfriend. And yes, I want to see if the girl I knew in high school is now fat. I know, I know, it’s such a female thing to do and it’s so wrong, but I still can’t shake that satisfied feeling seeing girls I may have been just a bit jealous of in high school or college get fat and ugly. I’m not proud of it, really I’m not, and given my values and morals, it’s SO wrong…but bad habits die hard.

It also makes me feel better about being the ugly duckling. I got finer with time baby, and most of them didn’t!

So anyway, my 2nd favorite form of stalking happens to be checking out people’s About pages on their website. If I’m gonna read your blog and/or site, I want to know more about you. Keyword there is YOU. I want to know more about YOU as a person. Yes, you can write about your credentials, but when it comes down to it, if I’m going to admire you and look up to your expertise and perhaps buy your product or service, I wanna know the real you.

I want to know how old you are, your relationship status, if you have kids. I want to know if you have skeletons in your closet, if you overcame some crazy obstacles to get where you are today. And you know what? If your spiritual life is important to you, be it Christian, Buddhist or Jewish, I wanna know about that too. I respect that kind of stuff, b/c it makes you seem more personal and accessible.

An About page that reads like an awards page, or a resume is…well, it’s boring. And yeah, I understand if you’re going for a very professional image, you don’t want to include that stuff. That’s fine, it’s your choice, but you just lost some points in my eyes.

I suppose I’m writing this with the Internet/Search Marketing and SEO world in mind. Anyone whose blog or site I come across, be sure that I’ll read your About page. And to those whose pages I leave feeling as though I know a little bit about you as a person, THANK YOU!

I thought I’d include my list of favorite and least favorite About pages in the world of Search.

The Least Interesting About Page Awards Go To:

#3: ShoeMoney’s Bio - To be honest, the main reason ShoeMoney made the list is cuz his writing style is pretty damn entertaining, but his bio seems a bit lacking. However, I will give him props for having some personal posts up.

#2: Graywolf AKA Michael Gray - Graywolf cracks me up, especially when he rips into Google, so I know his About page could be a bit juicier.

And the award for the #1 least interesting About page (to me at least) goes to…

Mr. Andy Beal (& Marketing Pilgrim) - Cool accent & great writing aside, Mr. Beal’s About pages read a bit too much like a resume.

But don’t sweat it guys, I still love (and read) your sites!

Now let’s move on to the best!

The Most Interesting About Page Awards Go To:

#3 Rae Hoffman AKA Sugarrae - Her About page has some cool personal info, but what really makes her #3 on the list was sharing her very personal story of how/why she got into internet marketing in the first place. It’s impossible not to respect her for her strength and fortitude after reading that!

#2 Jonathan Volk - Okay, so I just love that he mentions his girl. I’m a chick, so sue me. Also, I may be biased, since I’m very openly Christian as well and love when people aren’t ashamed to admit it in public!

And the award for the #1 most interesting About page goes to…

Mr. Aaron Wall! - A bit on the longish side, but it keeps you hooked. Aaron has definitely led a hard knock life at times, and I gotta say it’s refreshing to see that even successful people have made some stupid decisions or mistakes in their lives.

There you have it…the best and the worst About pages in the SEO world. These also happen to be some of my favorite sites, but hey, that’s just a coincidence, I promise….

I know I missed some good ones though…any About pages you all can think of that are either great or suck?


Writing For The Web vs. How To Write Correct Copy For Content on the Internet

One of the things I love most about my role as content copywriter here at PMX is writing for the web. Why? Simple: it is (99% of the time) SO MUCH MORE LAID BACK THAN PRINT!

Take my title for instance - on a blog, article, whitepaper, etc it can easily just be called “Writing for the Web”. But if I were writing a technical document, or research paper or whatever that would wind up in a study or book somewhere, it would wind up with the latter half of the title. Screw that!

Give me shortened, concise wording. Give me slang, and bullet points and headers and subheaders. Give me paragraphs that are only 2-3 sentences long and a medium where my personality can really come through. GIVE ME WRITING FOR THE WEB!

Ok, ok, don’t get it twisted - I’m a nerd through and through. I LOVE reading (trashy fic is my fav) and I was the girl in college that LOVED her lit classes and righting (or maybe writing?) 15-20 page literary analysis papers. I can write “technically” with the best of them. But if I had to do it every day, I’d probably shoot myself.

Lucky for me, the Web opens wordsmiths like myself up to a whole new style of writing. A style where it’s okay to use slang, and okay to write casually, even for a business website! A style where one day you feel like writing something long, technical and professional and that’s okay! But it’s even better when the next day you write a humorous piece about why doing SEO is like dating the fat chick in high school. (No, I haven’t written that piece yet, but I surely am tempted to).

But for real, writing on the web is always an experience and your style of writing should always depend on your audience. THAT’S the important thing to keep in mind as a copywriter for websites. It’s all about your AUDIENCE. What moves and motivates them? What interests them? What bores them or pisses them off?

And most importantly - what’s going to catch their attention and keep ‘em reading? Sometimes you hit it dead on…and sometimes you miss…then again, that’s what makes it all the more interesting.

I came across a study on reading and writing on the web - it’s pretty old, but it’s still got some oldie but goodie points. Check it out if you want a quick refresher on how to write for web stuff. I may not agree with every single bit of it, but it’s definitely got some good stuff.

So c’mon, copywriters, can I get an Amen or what?