Author Ann Handley joined #Bufferchat to discuss ways to take your writing to the next level. Check out her latest book, “Everybody Writes” for great advice on writing and content marketing.

Check out the full recap on Storify here!

writing tips

Is writing a habit or an art?

From Ann:

  • “Writing is habit before an art. It’s hard to create something that’s artful without first building the muscle.”
  • ” ‘As the martial arts: A black belt means you’ve mastered the basics and are ready to master the art.’ “

Other great insights:

  • “Writing is an art that is nourished by habit.” @MadisonJonesHR
  • “It’s both. In order to practice your art, you need to develop the habits to do this.” @nickhtang
  • “Writing is an art but to perfect it, writing must become a habit! Practice makes perfect!” @KyleClaytonGore
  • “Few people are naturals at anything, even art. Practice (habit) help bring out the best in art/writing/everything” @brucerpdx
  • “Most great artists developed their art through habit. I think writing is the same.” @djforge
  • “Writing is a habit (that anyone can do), but COMMUNICATION is an art (effectively done by only a few)…” @jgombita


How do you beat writer’s block?

From Ann:

  • “Start with “Dear Mom” –or start writing a friendly email to anyone to cure FOTBP (Fear of the Blank Page)”
  • “Or try dictating & transcribing with @CastingWords or @speechpad — few of us ever get “talker’s block.” “

Other great insights:

  • “Write about anything; the fly on the wall, the smell of the air – the point is: Do something.” @shartwell92
  • “Don’t think too hard. Start typing and just start getting words out.” @BKMediaGroup
  • “I can’t beat writer’s block. I can only go around it. That’s time. Step away. Think about the topic. Re-approach.” @jayvig
  • “Doodle in your notebook. Then write a story based on those images. A nice break to spark creativity!” @valfrancisco14
  • “To beat writer’s block I start with the technical parts of the blog. Set up a draft, find a photo. I trick myself.” @YouTooCanBeGuru
  • “I try to find out the source of the evasion – is it the topic? do I need a break? Sometimes you need to just step away.” @KrisMikulka4


What are the three most important writing “rules” in online marketing?

From Ann:

  • “Have empathy for the customer, be useful to them, and have some measure of inspiration (either via data or creative)”
  • “And have fun! No one ever created great content at bayonet point, as my friend @jaybaer says.”

Other great insights:

  • “Understand your audience, respect their time, write what you love” @kymberlaine
  • “Be helpful, engage the reader and don’t lie” @PetrPinkas
  • “- Concise. – Relevant. – Thought/Action Provoking.” @NerrajT4
  • “1. know your audience 2. know the ideal post length of each platform 3. don’t underestimate the power of simple msgs” @Jasongalliger
  • “Be concise. Make it about them. Offer Value.” @LifeofRileyNYC
  • “Be real. Be truthful. Be fun. We need to be real people. Statistics are good, but feeling and experience trump for me.” @Dan_Baymore


What responsibilities do we have as brand journalists?

From Ann:

  • “In my mind, we must adhere to the same standards of accountability, integrity, responsibility, honesty.”

Other great insights:

  • “To guide the public opinion in good and truthful direction.” @wwomantravels
  • “Simple. Tell the Story. Tell it RIGHT. Get your facts straight before you write/tweet/speak.” @thenameiscasie
  • “Honesty, Loyalty, Familiarity. Keeping your brand honest builds credibility, and consistency keeps advocates happy” @KaitMoffatt


How do you craft content to encourage discussion?

From Ann:

  • “Make it at once personal and universal – in other words, a personal story that’s relatable.”
  • “Have an undiluted opinion. Not arrogant — but nonetheless a POV that takes a stand.”

Other great insights:

  • “Build in ways for people to engage! Ask questions, play games, there are so many things you could do.” @chrissachrissa
  • “Make it open ended. Be it in the form of a question or about an issue in the topic.” @danielerossi
  • “Start with Listening. Join in on the conversation. Ask questions. LEARN. EDUCATE. SHARE.” @marlinobitanga
  • “Write in your natural voice, create value, and always remember to ask questions.” @jarematkinson


What productivity or writing tools are central to your workflow?

From Ann:

Other great tools mentioned:


Essential books on writing:


Thank you to everyone who participated! Join us each Wednesday at 9 am Pacific/noon Eastern for #Bufferchat!

Image sources: Noun Project, Blurgrounds, GetRefe

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Written by Nicole Miller

Community Champion at Buffer 🙂 When I’m not connecting with amazing community members, you can find me writing, reading or blogging about my urban homesteading adventures with 15 chickens, four ducks, two dogs and a horse.

  • This may sound cliche, but something that always works for me is finding an inspirational image.

    Of course, this tends to work better for fiction writers, but it doesn’t have to be only for them!

    For example, Nicole, I see you like urban homesteading. I’m sure a quick Google image search will yield some gorgeous photos. Maybe growing your own tomatoes or finding a way to nurture herbs in your home will spark a great post idea.

    For us, finding new and affordable ways to grow a small business blog/social media presence etc will help us write informative articles for small business owners! Many local businesses run really creative contests and campaigns, and we find those inspiring 🙂

    • That is such a great way to get started! 🙂 I definitely do this a lot too! 🙂 Activating other senses can really trigger so many new ideas and inspiration!

      Thank you so much for reading and commenting — so great to hear how you guys get inspired! 🙂


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  • milad heydari
  • Ann Handley

    Great recap! Thanks so much for having me on BufferChat, Nicole and team! It was a great experience — an active chat, and a wonderfully warm and welcoming crowd! And, of course, a fantastic host.

    Many thanks again.

  • What I love the most about this post is that it shows how many different ways there are to beat writers block. Some almost contradict each other – yet each work for some people.

    For me, when I struggle getting words on the page, I start moving. I get up from my chair, start walking around, talking to myself, gesturing expressively, kind of embodying the thoughts hidden within the nebulous cloud of my mind.

    Which is also why I don’t write in public places. I’d look like a mad man… which I probably am. But even crazy people don’t want others looking at them as crazy 😉

    • Jennifer Lehman

      Wonderful idea!

    • Love this, Ramin!

  • Of all the bufferchats to miss, this is the one I miss?! Thank you for the excellent recap, Nicole!

    • Sorry we missed you, Shannon! Hope this recap helps fill in the blanks. 🙂

  • Mindi Huebner

    Great read. I’m adding a few of the books to my Christmas list and I can’t wait to try hemmingway app.

  • Great read. For the creatives out there here’s a post for beating the Creative Block.

  • Thank you so much for quoting me!


  • Will use. Thank you.