Phone a friend

It’s not often you meet a professional writer with writer’s block. At least not one that still needs to pay the bills through their work. But there is no denying that writers do sometimes get stuck, chewing the tops of their pens to a ruinous state as they ponder where to go next. Never lend a copywriter your pencil. You won’t want it back.

Everyone deals with this problem in their own way, but I find that a walk around the block or a bath (if I’m working from home – it tends to be awkward in a client’s office) sorts me out. But there is another solution that I always recommend to writers who are firmly and wholly stuck.

In our WhatsApp, SnapChat, Messenger, Telegram, Trello, Slack and email world it is a radical and an unusual idea. It is making a call. Speaking into your phone to another human being. You may have tried it. If you haven’t, then give it a go. Just be sure to call someone involved with the project, preferably the client or someone linked to the client, rather than your mum or your hairdresser.

There are two reasons that making a call can help with your writing. Firstly, you are using a different part of the brain than that which you use to think about what to write. This means the thinking part is freed up and relaxed. It’s the same theory as counting sheep or making lists when you cannot sleep.

The second reason that making a call offers is new information. Ask pertinent or even tangential questions. ‘What do you want from this?’. ‘What is the pay off for you?’. ‘What did you like most/least about the last job?’. It could be about the focus for the coming year, the new product coming down the line or how the client wishes to be seen. Things that didn’t make it into the briefing or the meeting.

Your interaction can also inspire the client or someone at the client’s office to let go, reveal more, or even have a new idea that helps. Business relationships can sometimes be seen as a kind of contest between the person giving the brief and the person delivering the goods. Talking can help to break this down and make the project seem more collaborative (without them doing your job for you).

So, when your brain is stuck, then use your £750 phone to make a call. It’s either that or spend the next four hours playing 2048, Pacman or that one with the farm.