9 Questions to Ask When Nothing Seems to Be Working

A man at a desk, building his list of propsects

“I hate thinking about writer’s block! I don’t have writer’s block much, knock on wood, but if I do, I think it’s usually because I haven’t done enough research and am therefore unable to create a fully realized world.” Cynthia Kadohata

As working copywriters we’ve heard all the tried-and-true formulas. AIDA — Attention, Interest, Desire, Action. The “Four U’s” of headline building — Useful, Urgent, Unique, and Ultra-Specific. The “Four C’s — Clear, Concise, Compelling, and Credible. FABR — Features, Advantages, Benefits, and Results. PPPP — Picture, Promise, Proof, Push. And the list goes on.

But even armed with all these devices designed to give us structure and stimulate our creativity, there are times when we just can’t seem to come up with the right stuff. It can drive you crazy. Is it a lack of research? Is it a lack of value in the product or service? Or did you just lose your mojo?

Relax. If this has happened to you, first know you’re not alone. It happens to all writers — even the greats — at one time or another. Even Stephen King — not a copywriter per se but still one of the most prolific authors of all time — referred to it in a 2006 Washington Post article:

“There may be a stretch of weeks or months when it doesn’t come at all; this is called writer’s block. Some writers in the throes of writer’s block think their muses have died, but I don’t think that happens often; I think what happens is that the writers themselves sow the edges of their clearing with poison bait to keep their muses away, often without knowing they are doing it.”

If writer’s block happens to you, don’t be too hard on yourself. It doesn’t mean that what you’re doing isn’t worthwhile or that you’re a bad writer. It simply means that you’re a human being and that marathons — which our copywriting projects often turn out to be — aren’t easy.

What you need, when this happens, is something of a kick-in-the-butt method of getting that “mojo” back. So, for the next time you find yourself stuck without anything to say, here is a list of questions to ask. Your answers will help you jump-start your efforts and get at least a decent piece of copy onto the page. Then you can build from there.

1) Is Your Timing On Target?

This is figuring out how the product or service is going to be just what your audience needs at that particular moment. It takes research into the market, industry news cycles, and, of course, your audience and their mindset. Much of this research will happen before you start writing. The goal is to develop a logical road map of how your copy will progress from headline, to lead, to body copy, to close, to offer, and to guarantee.

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John Torre

I reside in North Brunswick, NJ, with my wife, Lynn, and daughters Kasey, Jaclyn, and Shelly. We also have a 110 pound, lovable Rottie named Leo that keeps us on our toes! When we're not hard at work we enjoy spending weekends at our bungalow down the Jersey shore, or take extended trips to Walt Disney World as members of the Disney Vacation Club. For kicks, I draw on my dominant "right-brain" and play guitar in classic rock and blues bands, act for local plays and independent productions, and enjoy writing creative fiction. I'm a published author in short fiction and stage plays and a graduate of a local community college's Commercial Writer's Certificate Program. After graduating from the program I was selected as an instructor and taught "Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror" writing for 8 years. I enjoy many fine relationships I made with my students to this day.

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