9 Things You Should Do When You Don’t Know What to Write

blogging on laptop with coffee

We’ve all had it. You are sitting there, fingers poised over your keyboard, ready to write the latest blog post for a website or an engaging piece of content for a client.

When suddenly…

Your mind goes blank. You don’t know what to write.

The clock is ticking. You’ve got until 5pm to create something magnificent. Yet, your fingers fail to type anything. 

The thoughts and words that normally pour from you cease to flow, and all you can do is sit there, staring at your computer screen as the cursor frantically flashes…blinks…taunts.

And when writing is your profession, what on Earth can you do to bring your brain back to life to meet those dreaded deadlines?

If you’re here because your brain just failed you and you had to search ‘what to write’ into Google, don’t worry. We’ve got you.

Our content team at Embryo has accumulated many years of writing, and in this article, we’re going to treat you to our go-to writing tips to help get your creative juices flowing.

Now, take a breather and read our tips. Then get back to your empty document – you can thank us later!

Take a break – you’ve earned it!

Stuck for inspo? I take a break and try to read whatever I can get my brain on. The back of the brew packet while I’m making my seventh cup of tea for super-short but experiential copy. Quick mooch on my Insta feed to see what ads grab me and what doesn’t Heck, I’ll sit on the loo and read the shampoo bottles. Words spark words. 

If i take an hour on other bits and bobs and come back and I’m still struggling, I take as long as humanly possible away from it – there’s always something else waiting so even if its just switching to writing a totally different topic and coming back that helps too! Obviously it’s not always possible, but it acts as a nice refresh when I can.

Get that research in

Cursory nosying at top-ranking pieces in similar fields and figuring out what works. Is it the title? Is it the readability? How can I tailor my work to emulate this? Often I’ll stumble across methods I haven’t thought of doing and it’s a little lightbulb moment. Even if I can’t use it to solve my immediate writer’s block, I’ll pop it in my pocket for later. 

Also, If you’re stuck with writer’s block, broadening your research is a great way to get your brain to unstick. I tend to use Medium for inspo – there’re some super insightful articles on there, often written very personably, so it’s a good way to get some wider perspectives on whichever topic you’re stuck writing about. I did a blog on writer’s block when I first joined that has some more tips, if helpful. 

Take it back now y’all (one hop this time)

Is there another way to ‘attack’ this? Sometimes we can get stuck in a rut of our own design, especially when we think a piece would suit a certain format and we’re already set on making a dent in it. But taking a different angle, such as turning a guidebook format into a ‘top 5 greatest’ list can help you squeeze more from your brain without hitting that brick wall. 

Talk about it

Ask someone. No man is an island and neither are writers. We all have different ways of doing things, so getting some new insight or trying someone else’s way of tackling a piece can sometimes be the ‘in’ you’re looking for. Or even read your colleagues pieces for inspiration when you get a moment and see how they can turn a seemingly dull topic into pure gold dust. 

Keywords are your best friend

Looking at keywords – if I have keyword research in front of me, looking away from just the main target keyword and reading the others can help to spark those secondary threads that turn into big sections. You can even take one of the secondary keywords, plonk it into Google and see if there are blogs about it. Expanded research in other areas is really useful.

Give the people what they want – Answers!

FAQs!!!!!!! Even the most boring topic on the planet has someone, somewhere, asking a question about it!! Lots of people are stupid and even more people are inquisitive so there will always be a question to be asked! This is also a great way to get that golden featured snippet. Answer the questions people want and you’ll be at the top of the Google in no time.

Put some structure in place first

The big unblinking blank page is often very off-putting when you’re beginning a writing project. There’s a thing in psychology called decision fatigue, which is basically when you struggle to make a decision as a result of there being too many available choices. At this initial blank page, deciding what to write when you don’t know what to can feel a lot like that. Long story short, what I tend to do is forget faffing over an intro and map out the skeleton of the piece. I’ll put some potential headings in, deciding what I want the article to achieve and what structure will help me accomplish this objective best. This skeleton may change once the writing begins but having a visible outline of where the article is heading, in place of the blank page, can be helpful in reducing the strain of decision fatigue.

Switch on a podcast for motivation

Podcasts can be a good form of productive procrastination. Sometimes you need to physically take a break away from your screen to find inspo, so I’ll fire up some kind of semi-related podcast and – especially if I’m writing about a topic that I’m not super interested – can then kind of bandwagon or feel inspired by the podcast’s enthusiasm and revisit the piece better motivated.

Side note: If you haven’t yet heard Embryo’s Never Mind the Keywords podcast, have a listen to it! 

Do some editing

If you’re quite far into a piece and then feel yourself burning out, going back to self-edit is another productive procrastination move. Not only are you improving what you previously wrote, but revisiting earlier parts might reveal obvious areas where you could elaborate – or it might act as a reminder, in seeing how well the article was going before you burnt out, prompting a wave of confidence to give you that final push to finish.

Still don’t know what to write? We can help

If producing compelling content for your business is becoming tiresome, complex, difficult and time-consuming – you can speak to Embryo who can do the hard work for you.

Our digital marketing company in Manchester is equipped with the skills and knowledge needed to produce content that sells and ranks.

Contact us now to find out how our writers can help you.