If you’re staring at a blank screen looking for writing inspiration, try these tactics

If you’re staring at a blank screen looking for writing inspiration, try these tactics:

  • Statistics. They always grab people, and if you dig around for good, compelling figures then the story can hang off them. Imagine the first line: 4000 holes in Blackburn, Lancashire. If it’s good enough for Lennon, it’s good enough for your target audience.
  • Tangentialism. Think about something apparently entirely unrelated to what you’re actually writing about, then show how it is in fact related. So for example if your piece is for, say, tech and the environment, talk about Darwinism and how you need to adapt to your environment – the business environment in which you operate and by implication the environment in which we all live. If you want hyperbole bring Newton and Einstein in, just for good measure (yes, I did exactly that today).
  • Topping. Just write it then strike the first paragraph. You’ll be amazed at how often the first para just helps you ease yourself into the subject matter and the second para is where you find your feet. Then if you remove the first one, the second one magically works as an intro.
  • Engagement. Imagine you’re telling someone about it in the pub. How would you make it interesting to them? You wouldn’t just launch into the piece, you’d have some sort of preamble.
  • Life. If you really want your writing to be art then bring into it some aspect of what’s currently happening in your life. This is why I wrote about Newton today because I’m reading a book about him. In past features I’ve used the TV series Lost to talk about virtualisation and the end of the floppy disk format to talk about wireless storage.

Never forget, writing is part acting, part selling. If you can put yourself in the shoes of the person you’re writing for and make them interested in what you have to say, you’re on to a winner. To do this you have to be interested in saying it and able to say it in a compelling way.

I’ve also got to stop using that word compelling.

Does anyone else have a good starting ploy? Does anyone have an alternative to ‘compelling’? In fact, does anyone read this blog anyway?

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