Your cursor diligently blinks—a stalwart digital prod daring you to type a word. You know what you want to write about because you’ve already chosen a topic, done research, and even created an outline. But how do you overcome the blank page and actually write a blog post?
3 Ways to Overcome Blank Page Anxiety
Is the unmarred white screen in front of you too intimidating? Here are a few tips to help you conquer the blank page and write your blog post draft.
1. Work through your blog post outline
If you followed my tutorial on how to create an outline, you already have your title written. So your page shouldn’t actually be completely blank.
After your title, it makes sense to start with the introduction. But if you already feel stuck, you might need to jump to a subheading section and write about that first to get the creative juices flowing and develop the substance of the article. It’s totally okay to come back to the intro later.
Work through your outline section by section. You can think of each section as its own separate piece, then figure out how to connect them later, if that’s easier for you.
This is a helpful method if you’re overwhelmed by writing the entire piece all at once. Instead of sitting down to write your whole blog post, you can say, “Today I’m going to write the first subsection. Tomorrow I’ll write the second”, and so on.
2. Talk instead
Again, if you’re intimidated by the blank page, or you struggle to actually write, talk instead.
If there’s a friend, family member, or business associate you find easy to talk to, ask them to interview you about your blog topic, using the outline as a reference. Record the interview, then listen back to the recording and transcribe exactly what you said. Voila! You have a rough draft!
It might be enough for you to just bribe a family member to sit there and listen to you ramble about your topic while you record yourself talking. Having a physical person in the room who’s listening might help you talk more naturally.
3. Set a timer
Setting a timer can work wonders. Commit to writing for 20 minutes, then give yourself a break doing something completely different. Get up and walk around. Have a snack or a cup of coffee. Call a friend. Change a load of laundry. Clear your brain, then come back and focus for another 20 minutes.
And remember: You don’t have to write the whole blog post in one day. Maybe you’d work better committing to write for 15 minutes each day until it’s complete.
The Key to Conquering Fear of the Blank Page
The key to conquering fear of the dreaded blank page is to kill perfectionism.
Repeat after me: First Drafts Are Ugly. In fact, first drafts are usually hideous compared to the final product. Don’t be discouraged by that.
The draft-writing stage is not the editing stage. Editing comes later, so don’t allow perfectionism to slow you down. Just write. Nothing is set in stone. Everything you write at this point can be changed later.
Your primary goal here is to get the words onto the page. Get the information where it needs to be. Try to get a feel for the post and start to develop a sense of the flow of the article.
When you edit, you’ll go over it with a fine-toothed comb. You’ll tweak each sentence and worry about spelling and grammar and all that stuff later. For now, just write!
If, like me, you struggle to write without constantly stopping to edit your own work, give ilys a try. This app doesn’t let you see what you’ve already written until you’re done with your writing session. It’s a great exercise!
The Benefit of a Writing Routine
A lot of writing experts and authors emphasize the importance of writing daily. I used to scoff at that idea. But after a personal challenge to write every day for an entire month, I noticed remarkable improvements not only in the quality of my writing, but in my writing process. I got faster at formulating my thoughts and transferring them to the page. It got easier—not easy, but easier.
You’re more likely to write regularly—even if it’s not daily—if you schedule it into your calendar. As much as I love to write, I simply won’t do it if it’s not slotted into my schedule. So make an appointment on your calendar to write.
Conquer the blank page. Just write something!