Quick Tips: Overcoming Writer’s Block When Writing Appeals

Last month, I took part in #smNPchat — the Twitter chat for  small non-profit organizations interested in learning more about fundraising and marketing.  During the course of the chat, we ended up sharing some great tips on how to overcome writer’s block while working on an appeal.

A few of the best ideas are below:

  • Write longhand — it may allow you to more freely develop your ideas
  • Walk away and come back to it later
  • Get inspiration by spending time with program staff and clients. (Keep your eyes open in the next few weeks for a guest post that further explores this topic!)
  • Make some thank you calls to donors to reconnect with what really inspires them about your organization and its mission.

One tip that has been helpful to me is to write free-form or stream of consciousness to get some basic ideas down and then come back to it another day.

What strategies do you use to overcome writer’s block while working on an appeal (or anything else in your fundraising work)?

Be sure to follow Pamela Grow, the coordinator of the #smNPchat, on Twitter — @PamelaGrow — and take part in the next chat (see chat schedule here).

For more on the topic of writing great appeals, check out Mary Cahalane‘s guest post on Pamela’s blog here.


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2 Replies to “Quick Tips: Overcoming Writer’s Block When Writing Appeals”

  1. Like you, Dan what usually works for me is just to start writing. Doesn’t matter if it makes much sense, or I like it. I try hard not to judge at first – just start putting something on the page. Often, a page or more into it, something useful comes out. Then I toss the rest, and use that to build the appeal.

    The longhand writing is interesting, too. I usually find I have to do both – maybe I have a need to think about it in two different ways?

    Anyway, good post on a topic that’s always going to matter!

  2. It depends on what the project is I’m working on. For direct mail packages I’m not looking to reinvent the wheel so I’ll refer back to sucessful campaigns. I don’t like to risk untested product on a fundraising campaign. For on-air copy, for acknowledgment letters really any promotional piece I am a very big fan of the stream of conciousness approach. I prefer the keyboard because I spend less time analyzing what I’m writing on the first pass. I want to get it out, the more I can write the better. Then I go back and edit or discard sometimes all of it save for a germ of an idea. Once I have that I can build from there. I don’t like to walk away until I’ve gotten something down. I tend to procrastinate and writers block only makes that worse. Excellent topic

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