As contributors to these blogs, we are urged to write more and write often. This is easier said than done sometimes. Whether we like it or not, no matter how loquacious the individual, the thought of writing, especially business writing, can silence our thoughts and our proverbial pens. 

So how does one overcome writer’s block? There are dozens of tricks that you can try but here are a few that I have pooled from my years of experience – not just with business writing, but with poetry and other types of creative writing. When push comes to shove, writing is writing and a blank presentation at 7pm in your cubicle is just as ominous as a blank sheet of paper at 3am before your creative writing seminar.   

#1 – Envision a clean slate:  Stop looking at your blank page like an ominous demon but as a fresh start. If you can touch type, close your eyes (or if you are working at a desktop, turn off the monitor) and just write what comes to mind.  Don’t worry about spelling, vocabulary, or grammar usage.  Just write what you really want to say.  Let it flow freely for a little while.  Maybe give yourself a time limit of 10 or 15 minutes, then go back. There will likely be some good seeds in there:  powerful phrases, some nuggets of how you can better express your idea. Use that as a catalyst to propel you toward the bigger communication. 

#2 – Take a warm-up lap:  Blank is really, really hard for some people to face.  And if you can’t touch type or type fast, tip #1 is not going to help you. So instead, try a variation of that.  Find a website with some good, old-fashioned writing exercises and pick one.  Take your blank slate and instead of writing about your selected topic, do the writing exercise instead.  This activity will get you “warmed up” with juices and ideas flowing. With a little of the pressure off, you may find you are more ready to tackle the task at hand. Here’s a good place to start for writing prompts:

#3 – Fall to Pieces:  Maybe an outline isn’t always the right thing, but sometimes viewing your work in smaller chunks helps take the fear out of the task. Instead of drafting a whole presentation, think of five things you want the audience to take from your presentation and write those down. Then enhance those five things with supporting points. Another tactic is to think of your business writing as a story with an introduction, middle and an end and write to that simple narrative. Regardless of how you slice it, cutting things down and building them back up is the best way to pound out a crisp message.

#4 – Try Tahoma 10:  Based on the idea that a change in perspective can boost creativity, the “T10″ involves just switching to a new font style and size in the word processing program you’re using. It really works! Watch your mindset go from rut to relief as you turn Times New Roman 12 into Tahoma 10, giving you a rush of energy and creativity thanks to nothing more than a simple change of scenery. If you’ve gotten in the habit of confining yourself to the same format every day, it’s time to break out of the same old dull routine. Make your font size exceptionally large, turn it all red or green, use pictures or clip art to illustrate your points (you can always remove later). The content is there but it looks different and, when discussing writing block, different is good. 

#5 – Abandon your post:  A similar shake-up involves getting up and walking out on your place of work.  Move from your office to a conference room or from a coffee shop to a terrace. Change pens if you’re brainstorming on a notepad or write in PowerPoint instead of Word. You might even try working on an old typewriter, feeding in a crisp piece of blank paper like they used to in the good old days. The goal is to break up the monotony. To jump start new ideas, you’ll be surprised that seeing them in a different light is sometimes all it takes.