Posted by Chris Handy ● November 4, 2013

Kill Writer's Block with Madman | Architect | Carpenter | Judge

As a business writer, I often fall prey to writer's block.

In searching for a way to combat this evil beast, I took to the Internet and was introduced to the Flower's Paradigm.

I'd like to talk a little bit about the technique used by Betty Flowers, Professor of English and Director of the Lyndon B. Johnson Presidential Library at University of Texas.

What Professor Flowers realized is that many people, when writing, were trying to do too many things at once. Both generating new ideas and editing at the same time limited their ability to produce and surface the ideas necessary to create interesting narrative in a business context. Splitting up these creative and editorial functions is essential in order to get the most from your business writing.

The technique Betty suggests is called

  1. Madman
  2. Architect
  3. Carpenter
  4. Judge.

Each of these different roles represent a different function in the writing process. It is important with these ideas be split up so your best ideas can come to the forefront. Let's go through these one by one:



In this stage it is more of a brain dump than anything else. Focusing on what ideas you'd like to cover and just freeform writing for a while. At this point you must not edit, spellcheck or worry about proper grammar or punctuation. Just focus on getting those core ideas out on paper. You'll have plenty of time to scrutinize into reshape your content in the next few stages.



Now that we got our core ideas out on paper, we can start to pick out the chunks of text we're going to be using in our article. It's important to keep the structural analysis high-level here. Don't get carried away with sentences just pick out the cherries from content you created. if you've performed your madman section correctly, you should be throwing away more content than you are saving at this stage. As a famous author's proverb states, "don't be afraid to kill your darlings".

You should now start to put these chunks of content into a cohesive narrative style. Remember not to be too nit-picky about the individual sentence structure. At the end of the stage you might have to do another burst of madman to tie up the pieces and better stitch everything together.



Now that you have a cohesive outline and paragraph structure, it's time to really tie it all together. At this time you should start to look at how each paragraph flows into the next and rework your words in order to tell a more fluid story with your content. The goal here is not to spellcheck still, but to make sure that everything flows in the direction you intended and that no one will get lost along the way.

Reading your article aloud at this stage can help you hear if the article makes sense and delivers the impact that you intended.

supreme court


If you've been able to keep the judge away this long, you're starting to get somewhere. The urge to spellcheck and backspace and generally rip your own writing apart as you write it is so strong that saving it for the very end takes discipline.

Now is the time for you to scrutinize every little detail. Hit F7 spell check check for grammar make sure that you're using the proper spelling of 'color' or the European version of 'colour'.

By separating out all these roles, and keeping the judge at bay, you can start to get the ideas out of your head before the judge comes in and starts editing it. All in all this should help you avoid writers block and make better use of your time.

Good business copywriting is just one piece of the Internet marketing puzzle. After all, what good does copywriting do you if no one is there to read it?