How To Kill Writer’s Block Like The Best Copywriter in 20th Century

by | May 26, 2021

How many times have you sat on your desk and looked at your screen endlessly with no idea of what to write?

How many times have you postponed writing because of a lack of motivation? 

Well, we both know what that is; writer’s block.

It’s a challenge that almost every writer encounters. 

And today, we’ll face this issue head-on using the strategy of one of the most recognized copywriters in the 20th century. 

Eugene Schwartz.

Between the 1950s and 1960s, he was one of the highest-paid copywriters who landed advertisement jobs with the world best brands. 

Some of his many achievements include:

  • He produced a TV ad that sold to 7% of all TV owners in the United States. 
  • He made $50 million from a textbook on natural health. 
  • He got 2 million orders on a fishing lure. 
  • He wrote books, considered classics for copywriting information, which are still studied up to date

What most people don’t know about Eugene is that his achievements come from a particular ritual that he practised throughout his life. 

 It is a ritual that he used to force himself to sit down and get work done. No matter what was at stake, he set his mind to sit and write for 3 hours daily. And this strategy that he used is what we’re going to use to kill writer’s block. 

Eugene’s Ritual

For five days every week, Eugene Schwartz sat at his one working desk, a cup of coffee on his left with a bit of cream mixture and a few pens on his right.

In front of him were his research work and a skeleton outline of what he would write. 

Then he set a kitchen time to 33.33 minutes, and within this time, he would sit there do one of the following

  • Drink coffee
  • Stare at windows or wall 
  • Do nothing
  • Write

No other options. 

He sat there until he got bored, and then he would slowly start typing 

Then when the timer went off, he would stop even mid-sentence and take a break for 15 minutes to do anything he wanted before going back to repeat the same process six times a day. 

In total, he spent 3 ½ hours a day writing.

That’s how he got his work done. Writer’s block never existed in his profession.

This strategy would seem like BS for many people. It’s too simple to be effective! Yet Eugene attributes his success to this work ethic, not his writing skills.

There are various reasons why this system worked in obliterating writer’s block. 

Who to Kill Writer’s Block

1. Plan Ahead. 

There is no way you are headed without a plan, and even in writing. And most of the issues that come with writer’s block originate from people failing to plan.

But since you don’t have an idea of what you want to write about, how do you develop content ideas? 

Imagine your ideal audience or target customer. What type of questions would he have? What are his pain points?

Hop over to the internet and research some of these questions. Then take a look at Google suggestions and related searches. List ideas of topics you feel confident to tackle and select one to work on immediately.  

This is a simple way to generate content ideas on the go. There are many other routes, but we want to get past ideation quickly to get to the actual task, writing.

But if you want to keep writer’s block at bay, consider having both a content strategy and content calendar. That way, you have a well-thought content production system planned way earlier. 

Eugene Schwartz always knew what he would write about because he had advertisements lined up on his schedule to work on. 

2. Research Extensively

Eugene said, “The power of an ad is always in the product itself. Not the copywriter. The copywriter simply finds it and expresses it.”

Schwartz was a consummate craftsman who worked tirelessly to improve his copywriting skills and prepare for jobs through dedicated research. 

Research; the equivalent of a rocket launcher in the war against writer’s block.

Having a plan and understanding what you’re writing about gives you the leverage to research and gather information for easy content creation.

Many people don’t know what to write about because they haven’t done enough research. So they sit and wait for their blank brains to materialize something. Then they say writing is hard.

Folks, writing is effortless when research is well done. So spend 80% of your time researching your topic and 20 per cent cruising through your keyboard like a master.

3. Have One Writing Spot

Eugene had one single desk in which he will do all his writing regardless of what.

A familiar spot of writing connects the location with your work. It becomes a haven where ideas come in plenty because you have a unique attachment with that place and your writing. 

It conditions your mind to be productive whenever you sit there. The brain is like, “Its time to get creative and smart”, and suddenly, you feel comfortable. All tension is gone.

You feel like you have everything you need to kick a$$.

You want to set your working conditions to allow you to work with ease, and a nice, familiar spot does half as much to get you to the machine productivity level. 

4. Put Away All Distraction.

Eugene’s desk was a little disorganized, strewn with papers, books and files all over; the typical workroom of an intelligent person. 

However, he set a space in which the tools he needed for his writing, his cup of coffee, typing machine and his pens and research papers, were easily accessible.

Besides that, he had no room for any distraction from his work.

This is unlike today, when we mostly have a smartphone (the most distractive item on the planet) beside us to keep updated with other people’s lives. 

If possible, you should keep it in a different room from where you’re working because a simple notification can spiral you from productivity to procrastination in seconds.

Eugene built an environment and system which ensured he would not lose focus as long as he was within his working period.

How does it fight writer’s block, though? When your options are limited to sit in one position and either bore yourself to death or do some writing, 100% of the time, you’ll choose the latter.

5. Set Aside Time to Write

For Eugene, it was 3 ½ hours every day. This is the time he took to do his writing every workday, and it’s what you need to break writer’s block, 

Set several hours to write every day. Set the time also; maybe the first couple of hours after you wake up or before you retire to bed and make sure you write during this time without fail. 

Being a good writer is not about waiting for inspiration to write. It’s all about being intentional with writing every day, no matter the condition. 

When you do this at a uniform time every day, your body and mind adjust to make you your most productive and creative during this period. 

And writer’s block will never get in your way again.

6. Embrace boredom. 

Eugene Schwartz did not always have an avalanche of ideas when he sat down to write. Sometimes he was lost in words.

And he embraced the boredom of sitting down and thinking of what to write. He loved the process of gathering information and writing copy that moves people to buy stuff. Ironically the fun was in the boredom. 

Due to his extensive research, he just worked on word choice that would trigger emotions and produce ads that stroke customers’ hearts. 

And this is what every writer should do. The dull moments of blankness that you loath should not discourage you. Instead, they should be moments when you let your brain formulate solutions to your blankness.

It’s part of the writing process.  

7. Use the Pomodoro Technique. 

The Pomodoro technique allows people to work at their best and is especially powerful in studying and learning.

It involves setting some time (around 20 to 50 minutes) to focus intensely on your work then taking breaks of 5 to 20 minutes before repeating the same process.

People are at their best mental abilities during the first few minutes and the last few minutes of work or study. So the Pomodoro technique leverages this effectiveness improving a writer’s productivity.

Eugene used this technique to maintain creativity and productivity, which indirectly kept writer’s block away. For 33.33 minutes, he was laser-focused, pouring ideas, then during breaks, he let go. 

Don’t treat your brain like a machine. It needs time to relax and rejuvenate. Train it to work in bits and maximize breaks to recharge, 

8. Have a beverage or a snack 

This tip might not seem nonsensical, but I am a sucker for little nuggets that most people don’t pick up. And this, I believe, is one of them.

When you have a beverage or a snack or a drink you enjoy on your side during work, it relaxes your mind. You become less serious with life. 

People are always anxious and lack ideas because they take themselves so seriously. We are our worst critic. 

During this time of self-doubting, we divert energy and wits from creativity to the exhausting and detrimental process of self-depreciation

That’s why you need a beverage or a snack or something you enjoy to shift your thoughts and focus on production

9. Set one or two days off. 

Eugene worked for five hours for five days a week, not seven days a week. 

Many people take work very seriously and forget the other aspects of life; family, social, cultural, physical, religion.

If you only think of work, other aspects of life will suffer. When you don’t grow beyond your profession, you will not have a holistic approach to solving issues because you don’t know how people operate outside work.   

Eugene saw the importance of being all-rounded. He was even a World-class Art Collector and respected Biblical Scholar. 

So it is necessary to set a day or two off. During this time, you can participate in other activities and be engaged with your other social circles and grow other areas of your being. 

It breaks you from the monotony of work, and when you get back, you’ll be more creative, feel fresh and be rejuvenated. 

10. Make it a routine. 

Eugene was successful because of his professionalism and work ethic. Not because he was talented or special. He put in the work diligently and consistently.

He never waited for motivation to strike.

And this made him the best at his job. 

To work around writer’s block, you need to dedicate your time to intentionally write over and over until you become the best.

So you must set days every you must set hours every day, and every week to repeat the same process of writing, even when you don’t have the inspiration to do it. 

Times of no inspiration is when the magic happens. You get out of your comfort zone and expand your limitations.

Do this over and over again; you’ll achieve a lot more than your wildest dreams.

Wrapping it up

Breaking the writer’s block involves setting up a system that ensures your write even when you don’t want to. It’s the intentional push to be creative always.

Because you understand inspiration comes when you least expect it.

This is why you must find another way to go around it. And that means working on your craft, writing, even when you don’t have the energy, making it a routine until it becomes next to nature. 

At that point, you will never be intimidated when you sit down in front of a screen to write. To you, it will be just another day of writing. 

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