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Can an entire marketing department get writer’s block? If it can happen to great novelists, then it can happen to you and your team.

At this point, many of us are familiar with the content marketing deluge. It’s increasingly difficult to generate an audience for blogs, tweets, and Facebook posts.

You can be the most creative and compelling writer, but if you’re not consistently churning out authentic content, your thought leadership presence will be zilch. 

Today’s marketers need to be excellent content creators. Many marketing executives weren’t trained as writers but have been tasked with the responsibility of content creation. Whether you're a seasoned social media manager or a CMO in a new role, you might be experiencing writer’s block.

Let’s look at helpful tips to get your mind jogging and your keyboard clacking. Here are five from great novelists throughout history.

1. Research

Great writers are great readers. Your writing will only be as good as the preparation conducted beforehand.

Great writing—particularly in the B2B space—solves a problem. When was the last time you took your customers to coffee to find out what’s keeping them up at night? Find out their most pressing day to day challenges and create content that addresses these challenges.

The research phase takes work, but once your blog traffic shoots up, you'll be grateful you rolled your sleeves up.

2. Write like a human

For some reason, in a business context, we stop talking to each other like people. We speak in terms that not everyone would understand. If you were writing for your sister, dad, or spouse, would you still use business jargon? Let’s hope not!

Let’s take advice from the founder of The Paris Review and write for a more intimate audience. In a world so overcomplicated, let’s bring a fresh glass of simple, readable, and friendly content for readers.

As George Plimpton wrote:

Many years ago, I met John Steinbeck at a party in Sag Harbor, and told him that I had writer’s block. And he said something which I’ve always remembered, and which works. He said, 'Pretend that you’re writing not to your editor or to an audience or to a readership, but to someone close, like your sister, or your mother, or someone that you like.'

3. Resisting the pen? Try warming up first.

Just because it’s a marketing project doesn’t mean you should forget what it was like to write when you were in school. Remember how your teacher would instruct you to do warm-up activities?

One great tool is to just get your mind rolling by writing down your feelings. Obviously, there are notes you might want to keep to yourself—but releasing the resistance to the project can free you to write phenomenal stuff.

In Bird by Bird, fiction writer Anne Lamott tells us to release the blockage: 

I encourage my students at times like these to get one page of anything written, three hundred words of memories or dreams or stream of consciousness on how much they hate writing — just for the hell of it, just to keep their fingers from becoming too arthritic, just because they have made a commitment to try to write three hundred words every day. Then, on bad days and weeks, let things go at that… Your unconscious can’t work when you are breathing down its neck. You’ll sit there going, ‘Are you done in there yet, are you done in there yet?’ But it is trying to tell you nicely, ‘Shut up and go away.’ 

4. Get it started 

CMOs have a lot of pressure to create content across platforms. From white papers to blogs to Facebook to newsletter, being authentic in each of these channels can prove challenging.

If Mark Twain were here today, he’d most likely encourage an editorial calendar. He'd help you break up each assignment into small manageable projects. It was rare that any great novelist sat down and wrote a masterpiece in one afternoon. It’s a process. As he once said,

The secret of getting ahead is getting started. The secret of getting started is breaking your complex overwhelming tasks into small manageable tasks, and then starting on the first one.

5. Don’t procrastinate

The longer you put off content creation, the more you'll resist this looming project. Content creation should be on the top of your marketing mix. It’s a priority and must be treated as such.

That being said, sometimes you need to force yourself to sit there until you put something down. You don’t need to hit publish right away, but at least create the skeleton of your content. That means a dose of self-imposed discipline. As British-born writer, Philip Pullman says,

Putting it another way: a professional writer is someone who writes just as well when they’re not inspired as when they are.

What are your tips for giving fresh content published? Please feel free to share in the comments section below.  

Blake Landau

Published 6 May, 2013 by Blake Landau

1 more post from this author

Comments (2)

Albie Attias

Albie Attias, Ecommerce Director at King of Servers Ltd

The skeleton approach definitely works for me. You start with a one liner idea for a story then perhaps pad it out into a start, middle and end, gradually adding the sentence flesh to each section.

I often find there are days when the words flow effortlessly and others when it can take an hour to churn out a paragraph of dross.Either way, write it, go away and reread it a day later and you'll often find redundant text, ambiguities and a better way to get your points across.

The hardest thing to do sometimes is constrain yourself to a finite word count. Effective, succinct communication takes skill developed through practice. I once had the unenviable challenge of penning 100 x 150 word product category descriptions for a range of IT hardware products (I know, my life is one non-stop party!). Surprisingly, the hard part was not coming up with the content but keeping it down to just 150 words. It inspired me to create www.nifty150.co.uk. Check it out if you're stuck and looking for a literary challenge to get the creative juices flowing.

almost 3 years ago

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Hillary Rettig

Writer's block and procrastination are due to disempowerment, which means you are separated from, or constrained from using, your strengths, skills, and talents. Identify and remediate the disempowering forces in your life and work and your productivity will "automatically" return. In my work I've identified seven major categories of disempowering forces: perfectionism, resource scarcities, unmanaged time, ineffective work processes, ambivalence, traumatic rejections, and disempowering work context. In my book The 7 Secrets of the Prolific, I discuss the solutions to these at great length. The below links should also help:

http://hillaryrettig.com/the-7-secrets-of-the-prolific/writers-block-more-of-a-spaghetti-snarl/

http://hillaryrettig.com/the-7-secrets-of-the-prolific/use-the-writercopter-to-speed-your-writing/

http://www.hillaryrettig.com/what-to-do-if/what-to-do-if-you-have-a-procrastination-problem-or-block/

almost 3 years ago

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