When you write for a living you don’t have the luxury of waiting until you’re “inspired” to write. You write and meet client deadlines or you starve.
There’s no third option. If you fail to deliver on time then you convey an unspoken message, “I don’t always keep my word,” and clients hate that.
So the question is, “What do you do when you have writer’s block?”
I can only speak for myself and tell you what works best for me. Ask another a copywriter and he’ll probably tell you something different. The key is to find what works for YOU.
Personally, I don’t allow writer’s block to keep me from writing. I believe in conditioning my writing muscles so I can write anytime, anywhere. I want to share with you exactly how I do this.
The Schwartz Copywriting Method
Let me tell you, I didn’t invent this idea. I learned it from copywriting legend Eugene Schwartz. The Schwartz method works like this.
Schwartz would set a kitchen timer for 33:33 minutes (33 minutes and 33 seconds) and during this time he could only do one of three things:
1. Drink his coffee
2. Stare at the wall
When the timer buzzed he would stop (drinking, staring or writing) and take a short break. He would repeat this process until he got 3 1/2 hours of writing in every morning.
So I decided to try his method out and here is what I found.
At least for me it does. I do my best writing in the morning so from about 9:00-12:30 I write using the Schwartz method. I use a countdown timer on my phone. And I allow myself to stare at the wall OR the window (I have a nice view of the trees). But I don’t allow myself to get up from my desk during this time (even if my coffee gets cold!).
I’ve found when I write like this I get far more done then any other method I’ve tried. I also feel like it gets me into my writing rhythm.
Could it work for you?
You never know unless you try. But if you do try it — do it right. When you set the timer resist the urge to check your email and Twitter. And don’t go warm up your coffee. You’re trying to form a habit remember? If your income is tied to your ability to write quality content then you need to take some extreme measures to develop your own copywriting rhythm.
If you think you’re going to wait for the muse to write you might as well start looking for a new job. The professional copywriter cannot afford to wait around idly for “inspiration” to strike. You must learn to strike first and then perhaps “inspiration” will pay you a visit.
So that’s how I developed my writing rhythm but how about you? Do you have a system or method that helps you be more productive when you write?
About Josh Monen
Josh is a direct response copywriter and marketing strategist who makes a living by achieving remarkable results for his clients. His unique understanding of human psychology and marketing principles make him a valuable asset to the clients he serves.
Thanks for sharing this Josh. Finding a rhythm writing is something I struggle with a lot sometimes. I’ve never heard this method, but I do want to try it (although i don’t know that I can find over 3 hours to spend on it, maybe I’ll just do a couple cycles).
The only other advice I’ve heard on this topic is to type without stopping. Set a timer, and just write write write until it goes off. Doesn’t matter what it’s about, just keep going. I’ve done this a few times with mixed results. It does help me keep from censoring myself so much (a big problem for a recovering perfectionist). Have you ever tried this method?
Hi Deacon, thanks for your comment. Let me know how this method works for you.
And I have tried the “write without stopping” method but I find I get way off course when I do that. So I prefer to just stare out the window when I go blank and then start typing again. But everyone’s different and this is just what works for me.
Thanks for sharing!
Josh, just so I understand how Eugene did it, he would do each of the writing, staring, and drinking each for 33:33 minutes? And then just put everything on “loop”?
Hi Peder. No, Schwartz would set a timer for 33:33 mins and then take a 5-10 min break and then set his timer for 33:33 mins again. During the 33:33 he could do any of the following activities: stare, drink his coffee or write. I follow that same technique and find it to be very helpful in getting my writing done.