How to Never Start Writing on a Blank Screen

How to Never Start Writing on a Blank Screen

A blinking cursor can become a thing of dread. It pulses away defiantly as your procrastination mounts and the blankness of the screen reflects back at you. Yep, writer’s block is a real thing and facing an empty document is no help.

That’s why I never open a blank screen when I write.

Instead, I’ve created templates for each of my ongoing clients or personal projects so that I can immediately start composing on a page filled with helpful ideas and reminders specific to that client. Ditto for crafting pitches.

I take this approach to not only trigger inspiration and fend off the blank-screen-of-doom syndrome, it also eliminates clicking around to other documents to review guidelines and project specs. Using templates is truly a time saver and productivity booster. Who doesn’t love that?

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10 Things to Include on an Article Template

Here’s a quick checklist of the general information I include on my content marketing clients’ templates. Sometimes there’s less, other times more. Each client is unique. The purpose here is to pad a reusable document with what you need to remember in the moment about the project and client so you can compose content that speaks to their needs and audience.

  • Client: When you’re juggling multiple projects, it’s best to have the client’s name noted at the top so you don’t mix them up with a similar outlet.
  • Assignment: I’ll cut and paste the actual summary, brief or details onto the document for quick reference.
  • Keywords: Yes, include those too for easy viewing!
  • Links: Does your client want you to include specific links within the document? List them so you don’t forget.
  • Tone & Audience: I include a few words that remind me of specifics, like “conversational, busy moms, B2C” to keep me moving in the right direction.
  • Sources: What types of references to use, and more importantly, what not to source or quote, per the client’s request.
  • Common links: Do you always have to include a CTA that links back to a contact page? Include that link and boilerplate sentence on your template.
  • Photo specs: Sizes, royalty-free sites preferred and formatting can all be noted.
  • Deadline: None of this matters if you don’t produce copy when the client needs it!
  • Notes to the client: Last, I include a spot to jot down any questions I want to ask the client upon article submission.

At a glance, you might be thinking, Woah, I’m not doing that for every post I write!. Well, you don’t. That’s the idea of a template. Create it once, then open it each time you write a new post so you have immediate direction and can flow into the mindset of the client’s parameters.

Do you also create a template for your retainer-based client work? Or, do you do something similar? I’m all ears for tips that make the writing process flow effortlessly so creativity can dominate your attention. Share your thoughts in the comments below!

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Note: This post was last updated on November 4, 2022.

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