If you’re in digital marketing, odds are you’ve heard the phrase “content is king” more times than you can count. While it does ring true in some ways, I find it doesn’t in others.
A king is one single person that rules over everyone. Content is not one single thing; it is numerous and constantly needed. It evolves and changes. In this way, I’d say that content is less king and more the kingdom itself. It’s everything. So when you find yourself coming up short when it comes to content, you may feel like you have nothing and that there’s no hope.
But don’t worry, there is always a way to create new, exciting content.
Depending on what kind of content you’re writing, there are some very useful tools, both on and off the Internet, for getting yourself unblocked. So let’s start from the easiest to hardest kinds of “blocked.”
You’ve got your keywords, you’ve got your subject, and you even have a draft, but you just don’t know how to go about making it into something that you feel comfortable putting out there. You’ve poured over it and it still doesn’t feel right, but you have no clue why it doesn’t feel right.
My first piece of advice would be to have someone else look at it, if you can. But we often don’t have that luxury, so there’s two good ways to provide that “other person” without having to bother anyone.
The first way is to make yourself the other person by using time or inverted reading structure. If you have time on your side, just leave your piece and come back to it later. Most of the time I find that I can pinpoint what’s wrong just fine after letting it rest.
If that doesn’t work, try reading your piece backwards. Your eyes get used to how your content looks, and it can cause your brain to shove errors and places for improvement into the background. By reading backwards, you break away from familiarity.
The second way is to have Internet do some editing for you, so to speak. My favourite way to do this is with HemingWayApp. This will identify things like passive voice, sentences that are hard to read, repetition of words. It’s a lifesaver when you just don’t have the energy or time.
So you have a topic, you know what you want to do with the piece, maybe you have keywords, and unfortunately you also have completely blank page.
My two go-to analogue ways of getting past this are to do a “word vomit” or to get off the computer and write by hand.
In a word vomit, you throw structure and reason out the window and just write until you can’t write anymore. If you’re going to do this, you should have no objective whatsoever. The most structured it should be is to focus on whatever your topic may be. Try to restrict it any further and it won’t work for you. The point is to just get something on the page.
I find it has two advantages:
- You’ve written something and for a lot of writers, that gives them the momentum they need to keep going.
- Among all the stream of consciousness nonsense, you’ll likely have something you can use. Even if it’s just a small fragment, you still have more than you had before.
I also like to write by hand to help unblock myself because paper feels less intimidating than a blank computer screen. Or at least it does to me.
Another method I like is to hop onto BuzzSumo and search my topic. The best rated content pertaining to your search will pop up. I find skimming through this can help get me going again. I’ll see a structure I like or a topic that gets me excited and it gives me that kick I need to jump onto the page.
The dramatic name *might* clue you in, but this is by far the worst kind of block, in my opinion. This is when you only have a topic and nothing else (or no topic at all). You have nothing to go on. You can’t get ideas, even when you look at work that would otherwise inspire.
This is the writer’s block that makes things personal. It makes you feel like you just can’t hack it. You might find yourself asking things like “what’s the point?’ or “am I even really that good of a writer?”
In my opinion, this kind of writer’s block is the most psychologically driven, especially if you find yourself thinking things along the lines of what I said above.
In cases like this, I have to drop writing entirely and do something different. This might sound like the “just give it time” technique I spoke about earlier, but with this you have nothing to come back to, so just giving yourself time isn’t enough. You need to do something else that stimulates you.
Some things that have helped me before are:
- Grabbing a cup of coffee.
- Going for a walk.
- Playing a short game.
- Listening to music.
- Watching a short show.
The goal is to just break the despair, really. Though it’s all the better if your activity is something that stimulates the creative part of your brain.
For pure, fast idea generation, I like to turn to AnswerThePublic. You put in your topic, and it spits out a whole library of terms and phrases relating to what you put in. It’s AI generated so sometimes it doesn’t totally make sense, but it can still be great for taking you from nothing to something. Plus it generates your results in lists, thought trees, and various other representations that cater to different types of learners.
Stop Reading and Go Write!
This is just a taste of what can help you get out of your writer’s rut, and if you have anything that you love to use that I haven’t covered, I’d love to hear what you’ve come up with!