Avoid Business Plan Writer's Block in 10 Steps

We all get stuck from time to time. While that's fine if you're writing a blog or something personal, it's no fun if a deadline is approaching on a Friday and you're making no progress on your client's project.

Business writer's block?

Maybe.

What we call it doesn't matter, it's how we get around it.

My approach is to keep asking myself questions. Every time I ask myself a question it prompts an answer. And each answer gives me more insight into the underlying problem. If I ask enough questions... eventually a light bulb goes up and I know what I need to write.

So, for me, using this question and answer approach gets me 'unstuck' whenever I hit the wall.

Here are some examples.

1. Which words or phrases don't sound natural?

If you read it aloud, you can hear where it jars immediately.

Take a look at your letters and memos. Do they sound like you or someone else? Effective business communications don't need to be formal and stuffy to communicate effectively. Most readers understand what you're saying more easily when you use a normal, conversational tone.

2. Is the angle too positive?

Sometimes taking a deliberate negative approach makes a better story.

When readers are confronted by a negative message, they become blocked on an emotional level and often cannot fully absorb the entire message. So no matter what the message even if it isn't what the reader was hoping to receive deliver the message using a positive tone and a positive approach.

3. What's the hidden benefit?

If you really want to reach your readers, tell them how they will benefit from the message you're communicating. Tell them what they stand to gain. But sometimes it may not be so obvious.

4. Are you writing over their head?

Do you know who is reading your case study or white paper? A business communication is written to communicate. To do that effectively, your readers must understand the message you're sending, so be sure to use words your readers will understand.

5. Is the tone petty or angry?

Communications written when you are angry tend to be accusatory or condemning in tone. Little things can slip into your writing that you wouldn't normally allow, putting up walls between you and your reader or fostering ill will.

6. What questions will the reader have?

As you are writing a communication, try to anticipate what questions, if any, your reader will have. Then answer them right away. Your reader will benefit from being informed up-front and you'll save on additional correspondence or communications to answer those questions later.

7. Why jargon and TLAs?

Common acronyms, words, and phrases within your specific industry may seem like everyday language to you. But what about your readers?

If you're writing to a colleague in the same field, it may be acceptable to use industry jargon. But if you're writing to someone and you're not certain what their level of understanding is, spell it out in clear terms everyone can understand.

8. Are long communications really better?

If you can say what you want to say in three paragraphs, why write five? Extra text doesn't necessarily enhance the message. Sometimes it just buries it and bores the reader. Tighten up your text. Make each word count. Every sentence should convey something meaningful.

9. Do you have enough distance?

If you can wait an extra day before sending the communication, take advantage of that extra time.

10. Did you use a checklist when proofing it?

Write the communication one day, get a good nights sleep, and then proof it a final time in the morning when you are refreshed and ready to start a new day.

Frequently, you will find small or subtle errors you might otherwise have missed when you were caught up in drafting your message.

If you have difficulty writing effective business communications, writing at your readers level, or with spelling, grammar, or punctuation any aspect of the written communication process take a class to enhance your skills and/or enlist a good secretary or a trusted colleague to proof your communications before you send them.

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