Writing When You’re Stumped

The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog. 

Sometimes the content requests you receive from clients – or need for yourself – will leave you stumped. What is there to say about brown foxes and lazy dogs? It’s so cliché – hasn’t it been said before? What new do you have to add?

At times like these, you may need a boost of inspiration to get started writing. Here are some steps that can help:

Google. What?? You’re writing FOR the web, why should you look ON the web? Well, sometimes before you can know what to say, you need to see what others are saying. A quick Google search can help you see what’s out there, determine where the gaps are, and create unique content. In addition, if you’ve been creating content for awhile, you may have written about brown foxes and lazy dogs in the past. You can see what notes you have from previous content, which may help.

Angle. What angle is the client looking for? Do they need a business look at brown foxes and lazy dogs? In the 1st Quarter of 2012, the number of brown foxes jumping over lazy dogs grew by 37%. Or, is there a need for a more storytelling angle? My brown fox Sam recently made me laugh by jumping over my lazy dog Tom while the sprinkler drenched them both in my front yard. Determining what type of site your client – or you – are trying to create will give you some immediate ideas how to create your article.

Brainstorm. Once you’ve done the previous two steps you will likely have some notes, and some ideas about sentences, openings, and conclusions. Open a blank word document and start writing them down. Don’t worry about format, order, or even punctuation at this stage. Also include any ideas you already have about how brown foxes and lazy dogs relate to each other. This step is very free-form, so just let it flow and don’t worry about silly or ‘bad’ ideas. They don’t have to make the final copy.

Write. Using your brainstorm page as a base and write your article. You’ll be surprised how quickly the content will come together now that you have your juices flowing. Of course, when you finish the text, read over it twice to make sure you haven’t made any accidental mistakes in spelling, grammar, or punctuation. Then pat yourself on the back – well done!

When you create content for a living, you will come across unusual requests by clients on a regular basis. At times, these initially difficult topics will yield some of your best writing! Don’t be nervous about being stumped by a client request. With these four simple steps, you’ll have your article done in no time.

Anna Brown

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