It’s a feeling every fundraiser knows and dreads. You need to write an appeal letter. It needs to be compelling and inspiring, and also must bring in the money for your organization’s important work. And…you can’t get started. Writer’s block has stopped you in your tracks.
Sound familiar? Writer’s block strikes every fundraiser at some point or another. There’s nothing you can do to avoid that unfortunate fact, but there are some ways you can push yourself over the hump.
Fellow fundraisers recommend the following techniques to overcome writer’s block:
Tip #1: Take a walk
Studies show that spending time in nature boosts creativity, and you may find that taking a break from your desk and staring at screens gives your brain the space it needs to come up with some good ideas for your appeal letter.
Tip #2: Write about why you can’t write your appeal letter
There are plenty of reasons why writer’s block strikes: you’re juggling multiple priorities at work, you have a cold, you’re hosting houseguests this weekend and you’re not ready, you can’t think of a good first sentence, you’re stressed about the amount of money this appeal needs to bring in. Jotting them down will clear them out of your head and make room for other thoughts. (Bonus: The very act of writing down your reasons may trick you into writing your appeal draft!)
Tip #3: Get inspired
Read through testimonials from people who’ve benefited from your organization’s work, look through photos of programs, talk to program staff about their recent experiences, or better yet, join in or observe a program yourself. What jumps out at you? Start by writing two or three sentences about it, why it’s inspiring, and how it demonstrates the impact that your donors have.
Tip #4: Take 10 minutes and write a really bad draft
A really bad draft. A blank page is daunting. Feeling like you have to fill that blank page with eloquent, captivating sentences can paralyze you. Forget about perfection. Instead, set a timer and spend 10 minutes writing a bad draft. Don’t worry about complete sentences, grammar, etc. Once you have something – anything – written, you’ve given yourself something to work with, and you can shift from writing a draft to editing your existing draft.
If none of these ideas cure you of writer’s block, don’t despair! When all else fails, you can use our LGL Writer’s Block Worksheet to jump start your appeal letter.