Nonprofit Copywriting: What Writers Say About Writer's Block
Do fundraising writers get writer’s block? Does every writer? All writers talk about it. Some play complicated psychological tricks on themselves to prime the pump when the well goes dry.
Others take a get-tough approach and say, in effect, “man up and write.”
Still others scoff at the whole idea of writer’s block as just a lot of artsy preciousness.
I don’t know how you feel about it, but I thought it’d be fun to see what a few well-known writers have to say on the subject. So here, arranged roughly from compassionate to contemptuous, are a few thoughts from some voices of experience:
“Put (your project) aside for a few days, do other things, try not to think about it. Then sit down and read it as if you’ve never seen it before. Start at the beginning. Scribble on the manuscript as you go if you see anything you want to change. And often, when you get to the end you’ll be both enthusiastic about it and know what the next few words are.” — Neil Gaiman
“You do not sit down and write every day to force the Muse to show up. You get into the habit of writing every day so that when she shows up, you have the maximum chance of catching her.” ―Lli St. Crow
“What I try to do is write. I may write for two weeks ‘the cat sat on the mat, that is that, not a rat.’ … And then it’s as if the muse is convinced that I’m serious and says, ‘Okay. Okay. I’ll come.’” — Maya Angelou
“Take a walk, take a bath, go to sleep, make a pie, draw, listen to music, meditate, exercise … But don’t make telephone calls or go to a party; if you do, other people’s words will pour in where your lost words should be.” — Hilary Mantel
Willis believes in expressive writing, exceptional fundraising, and exuberant living.
Willis Turner is the senior copywriter at Huntsinger & Jeffer. He was an experienced writer and creative director in the traditional advertising world for more than 20 years before making the switch to fundraising nearly 15 years ago. In his work with nonprofit organizations and associations, he has written thousands of appeals, renewals and acquisition communications for every medium. He creates direct-response campaigns, as well as collateral materials and communications, that get attention, tell emotional stories, and persuade people to take action or make a donation.