Use this 3-step copywriting formula to overcome writer’s block

This simple but effective approach will unclog your synapses and get the ideas flowing again.

Ever struggle to start writing your copy?

I did. I struggled with starting a lot, especially at the beginning of my career.

Back then, starting was difficult because I didn’t have a reliable method for organizing my thoughts. I did my research and had plenty of ideas but I didn’t know how to wrangle them, which was frustrating. Eventually, I began anticipating that frustration. And I dreaded it, the uncertainty and subsequent angst. And that dread made me procrastinate. I Screwed around on Facebook. Missed deadlines. Blew opportunities. All because I wouldn’t—nay, couldn’t—start.

Then I learned this simple, time-tested copywriting formula—and it forever changed the way I work:

P.A.S.: That stands for Problem, Agitation, Solution.

It’s a versatile, proven way to organize your thoughts into a compelling narrative.

Here’s how it works:

Step 1: Introduce a problem.

Ask a question or make a statement that identifies your audience’s pain, or problem:

Ever struggle to start writing your copy?

Step 2: Agitate the problem. 

Tell a relevant anecdote—a story the audience can see themselves in—to elucidate the consequences of ignoring the problem:

I did. I struggled with starting a lot, especially at the beginning of my career.

Back then, starting was difficult because I didn’t have a reliable method for organizing my thoughts. I did my research and had plenty of ideas but I didn’t know how to wrangle them, which was frustrating. Eventually, I began anticipating that frustration. And I dreaded it, the uncertainty and subsequent angst. And that dread made me procrastinate. I screwed around on Facebook. Missed deadlines. Blew opportunities. All because I wouldn’t—nay, couldn’t—start.

Step 3: Offer a solution.

Give the audience an out, a clear, direct way to avoid the pain:

Then I learned this simple, time-tested copywriting formula—and it forever changed the way I work:

Finally, insert your call to action and walk away. Let it sit. You’re done, for now, until you decide to revisit the draft for an edit.

You have many copywriting formulas at your disposal, but P.A.S. is one of the best. Here’s why:

  • It’s simple. Just three straightforward steps. Easy.
  • It’s versatile. You can use it to create short copy, such as social media posts or product blurbs, or longer copy, including sales letters and articles. You can expand or contract the formula’s content depending on how much space you have.
  • It’s proven. The formula is old and ubiquitous because it works. Every master copywriter—including Claude Hopkins, Eugene Schwartz, Joe Sugarman and Gary Bencivenga—has used it.

Eddie Shleyner is senior copywriting manager for G2 Crowd. A version of this post first appeared on Very Good Copy.

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