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?
- 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.
- 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).
- 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.
- 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.
- 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!
- 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.
- 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
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!”