April 28, 2016
A few weeks ago, it happened. One of the most frustrating aspects of working as a writer and content producer, with deadlines, happened. Writer’s block, writer’s burnout-whatever you call it, it happened, and it can be deeply problematic for those of us who have a responsibility to regularly and consistently produce content. After weeks of researching, crafting, and cranking out articles about digital marketing and my beloved new bestie, SEO, I had finally hit the wall. It seemed as if I was suddenly disinterested in every topic falling under the umbrella of digital marketing, and on the off chance that something did interest me, I had nothing to say about it. My coffee consumption spiked as I scrambled to find something, ANYTHING to write about and keep my previous rhythm going: to no avail. By giving in to a brief spell of writer’s burnout, I learned a handful of invaluable tips and tricks, not just how to climb out of the slump, but how to use the slump as a means of hitting the “refresh” button on my mind and writing. After scouring the internet for a magic solution to writer’s block, I emerged from my disinterested cave refreshed, wiser, and more engaged than before. Here’s how.
Step 1: Don’t fight it.
Writer’s block may be annoying, but I’m beginning to view it as a very necessary component of the writing lifecycle. For many people, writer’s block is like quick sand: inconvenient to find yourself in, but made worse by struggling. Next time you realize you’ve hit a wall with your writing and content production, try and embrace it as your brain’s way of saying, “’I’m having a moment.” Fighting it may result in sloppy writing, and as lovers of SEO are well aware, the quality of the content you produce matters. If you need an extra break in the afternoon or a day off to preserve the integrity of your writing, take it.
Step 2: Back away from the computer and eliminate distractions.
In fact, go ahead and shut the computer down. Log out of your email, your networking sites, your Spotify-all of it. After that, switch up your scenery by taking a walk. Physically moving away from your desk, computer, phone, or other devices is important, because it puts real space between you and your work. You can’t reset your interest and creativity if you’re being bombarded with text tones, update alerts, and articles that have just been posted. Make some space for silence and give yourself time to zone out with a little kinetic energy. Breathe, walk, repeat.
Step 3: Have a conversation with someone new.
If you’re out of things to say on paper, see what you have to say in person. A little human interaction can go a long way, especially if it’s with someone who is energetic, interesting, or just pleasant to talk to. You never know what someone else will say that might inspire you, and having some engaging conversations can be a bit like crowdsourcing. Talking with someone who sees things from another angle or is curious about different things may unhinge the lock on your slump and pull you out of that quicksand.
Step 4: Do or create something, just for fun.
Sometimes when I hit a wall in content production, it’s just that I need to spend some time reading or writing about something other than digital marketing. During the week of my burnout, I started a new book, and couldn’t put it down. It wasn’t that the book was exceptionally riveting or well-written, it was just that I needed to read something different and for leisure to truly stop obsessing over coming up with new content ideas. Read a beach novel, write some goofy haikus, or get one of those adult coloring books to think about something else.
Step 5: Return and brainstorm.
This is where I like to cut off my writer’s block rejuvenation process. You could crowdsource, switch up your schedule, or rearrange your desk to try and snap out of your slump, but if you allocate sufficient time into giving your brain a break, you probably won’t have to. Taking this approach as opposed to the abundance of do-this-do-that tips online worked in a much more positive way that has since had a lasting impact. The Monday following my week of hitting the wall and refreshing process, I was full of ideas. My browser was packed with tabs linking to all the things I wanted to read and research, and I was scribbling my headline brainstorms faster than I could keep up with. The end result? An editorial calendar with topics planned for weeks to come, and a graceful emergence from that pile of quicksand.
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