Have you ever been stuck staring at your computer screen?
It’s maddening to know you have to write something and, yet, don’t know what to say or where to start.
There are many strategies to deal with blank screen syndrome. This article talks about how to set the stage for writing by getting to know your one reader.
Ditch the screen for a ruled yellow pad of paper
A ruled yellow pad is not a flickering white screen. It has lines for margins and writing. It also has texture and smells.
You can fold its pages into a paper airplane or boat. You can crumple it up and, then, smooth it out again. If you’re not careful, it can cut your skin.
Now think about the phrase: “write down your thoughts”.
Writing is a physical act. It requires energy and muscles as well as brain power. When you write longhand, you use your whole nervous system to express your thoughts.
We’re not going to use the yellow pad to write, though. We’re going to use it to imagine your reader—the one person you’re writing to.
So, draw a simple stick figure. (I got this helpful idea from copywriter Steve Slaunwhite.)
Now try writing a car ad for the stick figure. How did you do? I imagine not well because you don’t have any information other than it’s a simple stick figure.
Know your audience
Many writers suggest writing for only one reader. Having more than one person complicates things. Besides, the most meaningful conversations happen one-on-one with someone you care about.
What do you know about your one reader? Are they a teen or adult or pet? What do they wear? What do they like to do for fun and work? What are their responsibilities? Kids, house, parents?
Novelists often talk about how characters take over and write the story for them.
So, let your one reader or persona take over the conversation.
Set the stage for writing with a scenario
Imagine you’re directing a play. During the rehearsal you give each actor the backstory for his or her character. You also tell a little story or scenario that leads to this exact moment when the action takes place on stage.
You do the same when you need to write something. You imagine a scenario for what’s happening in your one reader’s life. It can be anything—picking up the kids, leading a team, having a bad day.
Now that you know the scenario–what’s going on with your one reader right now–start writing.
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Image courtesy Canva. Photo by Wounds_and_Cracks–218774 from Pixabay