As a content marketing strategist, I write a lot of content. And sometimes, I hit a wall.
When that happens, I do not scream, shout or sulk. Instead, I do what comes naturally to me. I may take a walk, catch 40 winks, or grab a coffee.
What I don’t do, however, is to force myself to continue working on that piece. Doing so would be an exercise in futility. I would only be wasting my time and pushing myself deeper into frustration.
How about you? What do you do when your brain freezes just as you are creating that insightful piece of content for your client?
Here are some useful fixes to consider if you’ve ever had the misfortune of stumbling across that millstone to your creativity.
#1 Close Your Eyes, Meditate or Sleep
Fatigue is one of the most common reasons for a content writer’s block. Writing is hard work after all, and I do know how hard it can be for a content person to churn out article after article, Facebook post after Facebook post, and Tweet after Tweet.
At some point of time, you will face burn out. And then the digital ink freezes solid in your creative capillaries, refusing to be squeezed out of your once magic fingers.
Do not fret too much about your impending deadline. Instead, close your eyes, empty your mind and just sleep your tiredness away.
#2 Critique Your Competitor’s Content Marketing Efforts
What happens if you are all jacked up from your fifth cup of coffee? Your mind is swimming with thoughts and worries, but you just can’t seem to put anything down on digital paper.
Maybe now is a good time for you to let your eyes wander to your competitor’s blog articles, Facebook page, YouTube videos, Instagram account, and LinkedIn profile. Examine what’s great about what they did. Tear down what’s not so great. Have a laugh at their efforts.
Document what you’ve learned – it’ll come in useful sooner than you think.
#3 Go on a Field Trip
Action sometimes speaks louder than words. Especially when your eyes and mind are all cobwebby from screen fatigue.
Go take a walk in the nearest park, or visit the nearest shopping mall. Have a look at all the ads that you see, and think about which ones work well for you (and which ones suck).
Steve Jobs is known for taking long walks to get his energy up. Ditto for Stephen King – the highly prolific writer of countless bestselling books.
#4 Revisit Your Content Calendar
Remember that content calendar which you did so many months ago? Well, now is a good time for you to review what you planned for and see if you could get any help from there.
A well-structured content calendar would normally contain the following:
- Topics for the week
- Title and keywords
- Sub-topics (if its a blog post)
- Proposed visuals
#5 Brainstorm with Your Colleagues
If you’ve got colleagues or business associates, you could perhaps pick their brains a little over a cup of coffee or even a meal. Personally, I find that talking about your ideas do help to get the creative juices flowing better.
While random brainstorms over caffeine or alcohol can work well sometimes, larger and more complex assignments may require a more systematic solution. A good way to do so is practice the art and science of gamestorming, using tools like flipcharts, colourful post it pads, coloured markers, crayons, and white boards.
When doing so, do remember to take down notes – your smartphone could be handy for that. Or just a good old piece of pen and paper.
#6 Flip the Papers
Sometimes, the best ideas may come from what’s current and hot in the news. (Remember newsjacking?)
Rather than scroll through your newsfeeds on your smartphone or your laptop, why not browse through that pile of magazines and newspapers in your office?
Read through the headlines and topics. See what images catch your eye and why. Notice the way the stories start, and how they end.
Chances are that you can probably draw some inspiration from there.
#7 Use Your Life Experience
Sometimes, the simplest things in life can offer the deepest insights.
If staring at the screen isn’t helping, why not take some time to look at the people around you. Observe what they are doing and how they are doing their work or engaging with one another.
Or think about a happy memory that you’ve got with your family, friends and loved ones. Try to recall the details of that day – what did you do, how did it start, and what made it work so well? See if you can transpose some of those perspectives to your piece.
#8 Stimulate Your Visual and Auditory Senses
Sometimes, browsing a photo gallery or listening to music may help to trigger your writing muscles. This is especially helpful if you bring along a note book with you and just jot down the random ideas or thoughts which may enter your mind.
A key thing here is to focus on content that you wouldn’t ordinary stumble across.
#9 Grab a Healthy Snack
Yes, brain food do work when you are feeling mentally and physically fatigued. Don’t forget that your brain actually uses up to 25 per cent of your energy intake a day, and that it needs refueling periodically to work at its peak.
Pick a nibble that is low in sugars, high in whole grains, and slow in releasing energy (ie low glycemic index). They include whole grains, nuts, legumes, fruits and vegetables.
#10 Change Environment
Yes, this applies to those of you who work in an open office environment.
Personally, I find that moving to a new place helps to trigger new waves of creativity. I like visiting different libraries or occasionally work in cafes which are quiet off-the-beaten track places.
Sometimes, outdoor places may be conducive for you to pen your prose. However, you need to make sure that the temperature is comfortable for you to stay long enough to get a good amount of writing done.