7 Ways to Win Against Writer’s Block

Brick wall with writing

If you write for work or for pleasure, chances are you know Writer’s Block. The first couple of times you meet it, you may find its presence unexpected or unnerving, but you manage to tolerate it while covertly looking for ways to escape. But sooner or later, you’ll begin to dread its arrival. Because not only is Writer’s Block the enemy of productivity, but it often brings along its unpleasant friends Doubt, Despair, Perfectionism, and Paralysis.

For many of us—even experienced resume writers who routinely craft stellar career documents for others—writing anything even vaguely self-promoting is like sending Writer’s Block an engraved invitation to the party. And when it’s as important as a LinkedIn profile? We may as well be converting that space over the garage into a permanent residence for our unwanted visitor.

What causes Writer’s Block to park itself on your doorstep? The science isn’t clear yet, most likely because it depends on your personal history, habits, and personality. But regardless of its cause, the mere presence of Writer’s Block can set up a stress response. Our body gets ready to fight or flee (the fight-or-flight response), amping up some of our physical reactions and pulling back on any unnecessary functions. And what’s unnecessary in a fight for your life? Creative thinking. Memory. Motivation.

So what can we do to send Writer’s Block packing?

  1. Practice positive thinking. When stuck in a room with Writer’s Block, the worst thing you can do is beat yourself up. Do it too often and your harsh self-assessment becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. Come up with a few affirmations like “I’m a great writer” or “It’s easy to write about amazing people like myself,” and deliberately force out Writer’s Block’s bosom buddies: Doubt and Paralysis. You can do a lot of things well, and this is going to be one of them.
  2. Don’t expect perfection. Do you want your LinkedIn profile to be compelling, representative of you, and memorable? Sure. But sometimes in our quest to make it all of those things, we stop ourselves dead in our tracks. Let yourself write without self-censorship. You can always polish it later. And for most of us, revision is key to going from good to great (or let’s be honest: lousy to pretty darn decent).
  3. Set a timer. Give yourself a time limit, and just write whatever pops into your head. Research has shown that the biggest obstacle to completing things successfully is just in getting started.
  4. Try 10 variations. When you’re stumped for what to write about, or what to write next, try writing down 10 ideas or possibilities. I know it sounds counterintuitive, but digging deep like this forces us to consider possibilities we may not have thought of before. Sometimes that’s just the trick to not being stuck with Writer’s Block for more than a minute or two.
  5. Jump around. Feel free to start at the end of your profile summary. Or the middle. Many authors use this technique, and if they’re feeling blocked they’ll just skip ahead to a part they picture well. Some authors write everything out of order and just piece it together afterwards. Hey, if it works for Diana Gabaldon—who’s sold more than 17 million books in her Outlander series—it might work for you, too!
  6. Face it when you’re fresh. If you’re a morning person, don’t save important writing for late in the day. Try to get it done when you’re the most productive.
  7. Let your subconscious stew over it. Ponder what you’d like to accomplish, and then put it aside. Seriously. Go for a walk. A recent Stanford study showed that creativity increased 60 percent for participants who walked. And many creative types swear by the power of the shower.

 

So the next time Writer’s Block sidles up to you, I hope these tips will give you a way to escape its unwelcome company. But if you get really stumped while writing your LinkedIn profile, remember this: there’s no shame in asking for help! Paying a professional or bartering with a friend to help you hone it might present possibilities for a compelling profile that you’d have never considered.

Please feel free to reach out to me with any questions on branding yourself with LinkedIn or just on how to prepare all of the elements of a standout LinkedIn profile.

 

 

Kristin S. Johnson

CARW, CCMC, CJSS, COPNS, CG3C, 360Reach Analyst

Profession Direction, LLC

www.ProfessionDirection.com

Kristin is a TORI award-winning, 7-times certified resume writer, job search coach, and social media consultant. Her approach is cutting-edge, creative, and kind. As owner of Profession Direction, LLC, she works with professionals and aspiring executives across the country. Her clients enjoy the reassurance of having professionally-written, SEO-optimized documents. They find clarity and direction in their job search, feel at ease with social media and in-person networking, and earn more income faster. She would love to help you “Target Your Success Today!” 

LinkedIn Fields Character Counts Cheat Sheet

Last month, I kicked off a new program at Profession Direction to help more clients use LinkedIn called the “LinkedIn Success Institute.” This Cheat Sheet is one of the many resources I’ve assembled for the class, but it’s too good to keep to myself!  

It took a while to find current numbers, as they change from time to time, and new sections are added on LinkedIn, too. So, here’s everything my research produced for your convenience.  

If you find this helpful, consider attending my LinkedIn Success Institute Q&A session on the second Wednesday of each month. It’s a great opportunity to have your most pressing LinkedIn questions answered LIVE on join.me. Sign up here

Details for an ongoing, virtual, self-paced LinkedIn Success Institute are coming soon, too! I hope these tools help you to create a kick-butt profile J Now, on to the resource you’re looking for…

educational-background-with-numerical-numbers_G1Q0Shu_ 

Everything you type into a field on LinkedIn counts: letters, symbols, spaces. Here’s the latest list of how many characters are allowed in each section on your profile, your company profile, and updates. 

To count the characters in your draft in MS Word, click on the “Review” tab, highlight the area you want counted, and click on “Word Count.” The number you want to use is “Characters (with spaces).” 

There is also a free online character counter here

Remember: longer isn’t always better! Here’s an infographic from Buffer; although not specific to LinkedIn, it’s great info for online communications in general. I hope it helps if you’re struggling to figure out how long your content should be.

Profile Limits:

First Name: 20
Last Name: 40
Professional Headline: 120

Vanity URL: 29 characters after www.linkedin.com/in/
Website Anchor Text: 30
Website URL: 256
Phone number: 25
IM (Instant message): 25
Address: 1000  

Summary: 2,000
Position Title: 100
Position Description: 200 minimum and 2000 maximum

Skills: 61 characters per Skill
Skills: 50 Skills maximum 
Education/Degree: 100
Education/Activities: 500
Groups/Associations: 1,000
Honors/Awards: 1,000
Additional Info / Advice for Contacting: 2,000
Interests: 1,000

Update/Other Limits:

LinkedIn Status Update: 600 (Unless posting to Twitter at the same time, then only the first 140 characters show up on Twitter) 
Publisher Post Headline: 100 (recommended is 71 characters, but 55 is what I’d recommend keeping it under.)
Publisher Post Body Text: 40,000  
Company Name: 100
Company Page: 2000
Company Update: 600 characters or 250 if including a url 
Number of Groups: 50
Group Discussion Topic: 200
Group Comments: 4,000 
First-level connections: 30,000
Outbound invitations: 3,000 (You may request more if you hit this limit)
Accepted invitations: No limit 

Did I forget anything? Let me know if there are any limits on LinkedIn that I should add to this list! Please comment below. 

To Your Success!

Kristin
Kristin S. Johnson, CARW, CCMC, CJSS, CBBSC, COPNS, CG3C   
Profession Direction, LLC  

P.S. In the Madison, Wisconsin area? There are even more opportunities for you to make the most of LinkedIn! Check these events out:   

Madison LinkedIn Success Meetup Group

Madison LinkedIn Success Institute Workday 

The Right Verb for the Job

Don’t get caught in the trap of using “responsible for” when describing your job duties. It’s predictable, boring, and not very descriptive. Instead, take the time to choose the best verb to reflect your responsibilities.

Many online sites include great lists of verbs you can choose from when writing your career documents (including your resume). You can find a comprehensive list of verbs compiled by the Career Thought Leaders’ Resume Writing Academy at this site: http://www.resumewritingacademy.com/resume-writer-resources.php (click the link under Verb List).

Or try sparking your imagination with this list-–designed to help you find the right verb for the job!

Instead of "communicate," try:

AddressDetailOfferRenegotiate
AdjudicateDocumentParticipateReport
AdviseDraftPersuadeRepresent
AdvocateEducatePresentRespond
ArbitrateEmphasizePromoteSpeak
ArticulateEncourageMediateSpecify
AuthorEndorseMentorSuggest
BriefEspouseNegotiateSummarize
ClarifyInfluenceNetworkSupport
CoachInformNominateTeach
CommandInstructProposeTrain
ConsultInterviewPublicizeTranslate
ConveyLectureQueryVerbalize
CounselLiaiseQuestionWrite
CritiqueListenRecommend

Instead of "lead," try:

ChampionDriveGuideOrchestrate
ControlEmpowerInspirePilot
DelegateEnforceMarshallShepherd
DirectEnsureMotivateSpearhead

Instead of "improve," try:

AccelerateCutExpediteRealign
AccomplishDecreaseGainRecapture
AdvanceDevelopIncreaseReduce
AlignDiminishIntensifyRegain
AlterDiversifyLowerRejuvenate
AugmentDoubleMaximizeRenovate
CapitalizeEditMinimizeReorganize
CentralizeElevateMonetizeRestore
ChangeEliminateNormalizeTrim
CommercializeEnergizeObliterateUnify
CommoditizeEnhanceOptimizeUnite
ConserveEnlivenOverhaulUpdate
ConsolidateEradicatePerfectUpgrade
ConvertExceedPurify
CurtailExpandRaise

Instead of "make," try:

ArchitectEngineerManufactureStandardize
AssembleEstablishMastermindStimulate
BuildExperimentPrepareStreamline
CollaborateForgeProduceStrengthen
CraftFormulateRebuildStructure
CompileGenerateRedesignSurpass
ConstructImplementReengineerSynergize
CreateImproviseRestructureSynthesize
DesignInnovateRevitalizeSystematize
DiscoverInstallSimplifyTransform
EnactInventSlash

Instead of "manage," try:

ArrangeFacilitateHelmProject manage
CompelFosterLeadSteer
DirectGovernOfficiateSupervise
EmpowerHandleOversee
ExecuteHeadPreside

Instead of "solve," try:

AccommodateDetermineMasterResolve
AchieveDeviseOvercomeReview
AdaptDiscernPinpointStrategize
AddressEstimatePredictStudy
CalculateEvaluatePrescribeSucceed
CompleteExamineProveTabulate
ComputeExploreQualifyTest
ConcludeFindQuantifyTroubleshoot
CorrectHypothesizeRateVerify
DecipherIdentifyReconcileWin
DeriveInvestigateRemedy
DetectJudgeResearch

Want to see some excellent verbs in action? Check out my award-winning resume samples!

What other verbs do you tend to overuse that you’d like to find a substitute for? Let me know your favorite words and your pet peeves in the comments below!

To Your Success!

 

Kristin S. Johnson

CARW, CCMC, CJSS, COPNS, CG3C, CBBSC

Profession Direction, LLC

 

P.S. Don’t forget! Profession Direction’s LinkedIn Success Institute kicks off on February 28th. There are a few seats left, so register today!

Introducing … LinkedIn Success Institute

 

Need to jump start your job search in the new year?

Want to boost online visibility for yourself or your organization?

 

LinkedIn Training

 

LinkedIn’s popularity has skyrocketed in the last decade because of it’s effectiveness at connecting people with career opportunities. But, many struggle to figure out how to get LinkedIn to work for them. 

In just a few short sessions from the area’s only Certified Online Professional Networking Strategist, Kristin S. Johnson, you can finally have a well-written, fully optimized LinkedIn profile that will get you noticed!

Perfect for:

– Professionals who want to jump start their job search in the new year.
– Entrepreneurs or small business owners who want to boost their online presence.

Kristin will be instructing a series of four 2-hour sessions in a live LinkedIn laboratory covering layers of LinkedIn from beginner to advanced.

Includes:

– Profile setup basics, privacy settings, and etiquette
– Principles of persuasive (yet not too sales-y) writing for your Headline, Summary, and Professional Experience sections with break out time for coaching to actually get stuff written!
– Ways to use Groups, Company Pages, Jobs, Education, and Volunteer Marketplace.
– Tricks and workarounds for limitations when doing research on LinkedIn
– How to conduct Advanced Searches and what to say to the people you want to connect with
– Advanced methods for expanding your brand on your Profile page including Publisher and Rich Media.

What you’ll walk away with:

A complete “All-Star” profile
    – 120-character Professional Headline
    – Compelling Summary with at least 3 accomplishment-driven bullet points
    – List of 50 keywords to use in your Skills and Experience sections to boost SEO
    – Branding statement to use in your profile and when you network in person

Answers to questions like:
    – “How do I conduct a confidential job search and use LinkedIn at the same time?”
    – “Do I need to upgrade to LinkedIn Premium?”
    – “Who should I connect with on LinkedIn? Everybody? Or, should I be selective?”
    – “What do I say to people when I connect or message with them?”
    – “I’m horrible at writing. How do I get help?”
    – “How do I make LinkedIn really work for me?”

Complimentary copy of Kristin’s resource ebook “Target Your Success with LinkedIn”
 – Names of at least 50 recruiters and hiring managers in your field to connect with
 – List of 50 professional groups to join and network in
 – Personalized action-item list to facilitate your in-person networking strategy

What makes this different from other LinkedIn workshops? You get in-person coaching to actually get your profile completed and sections written from a Certified Online Professional Networking Strategist and Certified Advanced Resume Writer. Also, if you miss a session, you’ll be able to watch the recorded session in a webinar with email access for up to 30 days after the course is completed.

If you decide you’d like to have Kristin write your profile after all, you’ll be given a promotional discount for her services.
BONUS! You can attend either in-person, if you’re in the Madison area, or online to learn virtually. 

(You can also access the Institute online if you’re local and miss a class or two.) 

There will be four 2-hour sessions — a $797 value — offered as a pilot program special for just $397 for a limited time!

EVENT DATES: 

  • Saturday, February 28

  • Saturday, March 7

  • Saturday, March 21

  • Saturday, March 28

* Please note there is not a session on March 14th.

All sessions begin with networking and coffee at 9:30 a.m. CST

Program begins at 10 a.m. CST and ends at Noon.

Eventbrite - LinkedIn Success Institute

Top 10 Ways to Make Resume Writing FUN

Live events featuring Kristin

Top 10 Ways to Make Resume Writing FUN! small“Top 10 Ways to Make Resume Writing FUN!”

Wednesday, March 12, 2014 7-8pm
The MGE Innovation Center
505 S. Rosa Rd.
Madison, WI 53719

We are hosting an educational session with my friend and colleague, Brenda Bernstein of The Essay Expert. She will be giving her presentation, “How to Make Resume Writing Fun.” Please register for the event so that space is set aside for you. Remember, even people NOT in a job search still need a resume for internal promotion within their own company.

Madison Achievers

Job search clubs can be a real asset to your search. They can be great way to hold yourself accountable, provide networking opportunities, and be a reassuring source of support. A client recently wrote to me:

“I attended a class [for job seekers] at a local co-working center…To see all these other folks with exactly the same reservations and fears as I have was very helpful for me…It was a huge confidence builder for me and I got some practice at networking too, and it wasn’t bad at all… Although I was initially thinking it was sort of a chore to go, I am very glad I did and I can now definitely see how networking could pay off. It was pretty cool.”

This was music to my ears! It was exactly these reasons why last year at this time I helped start a new Toastmasters club in my city, geared towards career advancement and job search. Since then, our club members have built their networks, gained new skills, and some have gotten new jobs. To learn more about how Toastmasters may benefit your career where you live, check out Feel The Love With Toastmasters: 7 Career Benefits on my blog.

Are you in Madison? You are welcome to join the Madison Achievers for a meeting.

Madison Achievers Toastmasters Club meets every Wednesday 7:00-8:00 p.m.
The MGE Innovation Center
505 S. Rosa Rd.
Madison, WI 53719

Map: http://goo.gl/GoaqAc

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   Madison Achievers LinkedIn Page