If you are writing your own resume, it can be a frustrating task, to say the least. Even if you are confident in your writing abilities and how you want to sell yourself in print, sometimes writer’s block looms like an unwelcomed cloud on an otherwise bright day. Here are 10 tips to get those writing juices flowing!
You are not alone
Writer’s block happens to even seasoned writers. There are simply times when the words just don’t seem to come together. Times when a writer feels stuck and can’t think of anything to write. Times when the writer knows what is intended, but can’t articulate in words that intention in a succinct, clear and compelling manner.
And of course when writing your resume, you want to sell—not tell. You want to do so in as few words as possible. You want to strategically format and wordsmith so less says more. And you want to convey a clear focus to a targeted audience. And—sometimes this is the most daunting of all—you have to sell YOU! So, it’s natural to feel blocked. Over 20-plus years as a career coach and writer, I’ve had it happen … well, more times than I count. I have found some useful ways of dealing with the challenge. I hope you find them helpful!
- Follow a routine – Follow a routine to get in the writing mood. Try activities like wearing comfortable clothing, having fresh flowers on your desk, or listening to a particular type of music.
- Take a break. Get a snack or drink, talk to someone, pet the dog, or just relax for five minutes before starting to write again. Physically move around, stretch, or walk.
- Experiment. Try to write in different places, at different times, and with different writing instruments (yes, I know most of us are at the keyboards these days).
- Switch projects. If you’re burned out and can’t finish one piece of work, switch to another. Often putting the work in progress to the back of your mind helps. The subconscious mulls it over while you are consciously working on something else.
- Free-write. Choose one sentence in the résumé and write a paragraph about it. Then choose one sentence from that paragraph and do it again. You can also freewrite about something non-related to the résumé. Simply write whatever comes to your head. If you can’t think of anything, write that you can’t think of anything. A good recommendation is if all else fails, describe what is around you.
- Cluster – Choose key words and ideas; then write associated ideas and words in clusters around them. This process often forms new ideas.
- Be flexible. Be willing to throw out sections of text or design aspects that are causing problems or just don’t work.
- Give up perfectionism – It is paralyzing . . . and totally self-inflicted. If you want to write – just write. Much of what you write, you’ll edit out anyway, so just write! And as hard as it may be, relax. Breathe deeply. The more you worry, the harder it gets to think clearly.
- Write your way out of the block – Write the parts you know how to write first. You may gain an insight that will help you work out your problem area. At the same time, you’ll avoid compounding your problems and extending the “block” with frustration.
- Re-read – Read a print draft of the résumé and jot down ideas while reading.
One of the most frustrating things about writer’s block is that it’s not like a bacterial infection that you can just cure. You can get writer’s block again and again. Fortunately, when you do, there are strategies to make you well again! Now go write that fabulous resume!