In his book Hypnotic Writing, copywriter and author Joe Vitale offers a clever trick for overcoming writer’s block. Vitale suggests you start your document — no matter what type of document — as a letter to a friend.

This is simply brilliant.

You’ve probably noticed that you’re funnier, more articulate and more insightful when you’re around good friends or relatives. When you’re with people who make you feel comfortable, you’re able to relax — and tap your creative side.

You might also have noticed that when you write an email (even at work to a colleague), if you’re close and comfortable with the person you’re writing to, you seem to come up with great points and insights almost without effort; they just flow through your fingers.

That’s Vitale’s insight. Writing an email or letter to a friend is when you’re likely to do your best writing.

So if you just can’t figure out how to start a status report, department memo, newsletter article, trip report — whatever — a surefire way to get going is to pretend it’s a letter or email to a close friend or colleague. Think of an actual person, address the top of the document — “Hey Damian” — and start writing to your friend Damian. Then watch the insights flow.

Thanks, Mr. Vitale.