It's time to sit down and write your article, and you can't seem to write a thing. You stare at your paper or screen, twirl your pen, tap the keys, get up and get a glass of water, sit back down, get up and go to the bathroom, sit back down, check Facebook/Twitter/Google+, twirl your pen some more...
And nothing gets written.
It's not because you don't have anything worthy to say - you do. You absolutely do. You are in business because you know something; you have a unique perspective on a problem and how to solve it. You have experience, client stories, case studies, maybe even research.
You have plenty to write about.
But nothing gets written.
You're probably suffering from one of the five common pitfalls that keep you from getting started.
1. You get stuck in the "What's the best way to say this?" You know you need to speak directly to the reader. You know your writing will be more powerful if your reader (i.e. potential client or customer) can see herself in your words.
While this is VERY important, don't let yourself be stalled at this point. Write what you can, and then start answering the following questions:
- How does this apply to the reader?
- Why does she need to know this?
- How has she struggled with this particular issue (whatever your article is about) before?
- How can you solve her problem?
Answer those questions, and you're much closer to talking directly to your potential client. And you'll have created some great fodder for your article to boot.
2. You think you need a formula or magic bullet. There are many article templates (and other templates for other kinds of business writing - sales pages, bios, speaker sheets, press releases...), and they can be helpful. However, if you spend too much time searching for the perfect formula and then following it exactly to the letter, that's exactly what your writing will look like: formulaic and just like everyone else's who follows that formula.
Don't forget to put YOU in your writing. What is it that makes you special and unique? What is your distinctive take on your niche? Who is that quirky person behind the words? (We're all quirky, more or less, to some extent.) Let the reader see YOU.
3. You don't think you're a good writer. Yes, some people are better writers than others, but the more of YOU you put in your writing, the more the reader can excuse some lapses in grammar and mechanics.
Write passionately about what you do, and the writing will reflect that. Then the words themselves actually become secondary.
4. You don't know how to start, and you can't move from there. You might think that every person who writes starts with the first sentence and writes chronologically until the last sentence. Not so. Think about movie making. Do you know that directors usually shoot scenes out of order, based on lighting, sets, actor availability, location, weather? It's only the final product that is in chronological order.
If you don't know how to start, but you know what you need to write, start there. Then, come back to the beginning. It may be that you don't know enough to write the beginning until you've written the rest. For example, for this article, I wrote the five ways you have trouble getting started and then the end before I wrote the first six paragraphs. (And, actually, I discarded the original end and did something different - but it helped me get the whole idea down in the first place.)
5. You don't think you have anything good to say (write), so why bother? If you started a business, then you have something good to say. You want to help people, so write about what you do. If you don't think you do anything good, then quit your business.
Yes, that's harsh, but one goes with the other. If you believe passionately in what you do, then you have something good to say.
So say it.
It comes down to just getting started and getting rid of those pitfalls that get in the way. Write what you can. Immerse yourself in the concept. Play with your ideas. And write what comes out.
Something will get written - something more powerful and compelling than you might believe right now.