How Writers Can Find Copy Inspiration

In a prior post, I wrote about challenging myself to do my very best work for my clients. Every time. Before I turn in a draft, I ask myself if I’ve done my best or if I need to invest more time. Sometimes that challenge isn’t about pushing myself to excel, it’s about getting started.

Several of my recent projects have been writing vertical marketing e-mail campaigns and corresponding web landing pages. The jobs are challenging: writing creative, snappy copy for typically “dry” topics like manufacturing (chemicals, food & beverage, high tech) and services (banking and insurance). But, once I’ve reviewed the background materials and need to get type on the page, it can be a struggle to begin writing.

Here are some of my favorite ways to find word inspiration:

  • Rock it. For my copywriting projects, I tend to listen to instrumental (usually lounge) music so that I’m not distracted by song lyrics. But, when I’m a little stuck, I’ll crank up tunes that are lively and energetic. It amps up my energy and takes my mind off of the blank page. Fast-paced music also helps me when I’m cranking out headlines in search of the one.
  • Avoid white space. When a blank computer screen swims before me, I will turn to paper (such as a lined steno pad) and start scribbling. I’ll jot down words, phrases, thoughts—anything to keep the pen moving. Sometimes, I find myself starting to draft the opening lines I need and then I’ll move back to my laptop.
  • Scenery Switch. I’m very fortunate to have a fantastic home office and it’s my preferred working space. However, sometimes I need a change. It can be as small as working at my dining table or as big as actually leaving the house. There are three coffee places within a few blocks of my apartment and I’ll choose the one that best meets the boost I need. Example: a bright, cartoon-inspired venue to help me infuse my copywriting with some sass.
  • Leave it. Stepping away can be a great way to find inspiration. You can take a quick walk, call someone, read a magazine or book. I find that thumbing through art books can be a fantastic way to feed my creative well.
  • Be anti-social. While everyone has their own relationship with online social networks like Facebook and Twitter, I can’t turn to them when I’m struggling to get copy on the page. It’s too easy for me to find tangents or distractions that eat up way too much time.

What helps you find copy inspiration? Do you have music or other locations that act as your muse? What helps you get started when you’re stuck on a creative project? Please share your tips and experiences in the comments below.

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8 thoughts on “How Writers Can Find Copy Inspiration

  1. Shelly ~ thanks for sharing your tips. I love that you go to museums. That one’s going on my list for 2010.

    Niamh ~ lucky you, living by the sea. That’s one thing I really miss from living in the Pacific Northwest. Thanks for sharing your experiences here. Good luck with the medical textbooks!

  2. I do 1 and 2 all the time. And the more stuck I am the faster the music! At the moment I’m doing a large project working with medical textbooks – very technical and not so creative. But like you say you have to do the best for everyone so there has been a lot of music.

    I live by the sea and when things get really bad I head out for a walk and think about other things – this usually shakes the cobwebs loose! I set really tight mini-deadlines for myself to break the task down and use blogging for a few minutes as my ‘reward’ for meeting them:)

  3. Great writing inspiration. These all work for me — especially #5, which I am *not* doing right now. Sigh. I also: go to museums, take a walk, flip through magazines, listen to NPR, catch up on my RSS feeds, write by hand instead of type, draw pictures … sounds like procrastination, doesn’t it? Hmm.

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