“I sit at my desk with my pen in my hand,
Beseeching my mind as nice as I can
To cease its wand’ring and keep to its work,
For that is but one of a few of its quirks.”
This is the beginning of a poem called ‘The Poet’ which I wrote in 8th grade for a class assignment. I remember wracking my brain to come up with the most perfect topic ever. Despite all the ‘brilliant’ ideas swirling around in my head, I couldn’t even come up with a theme, let alone the first two lines.
The night before it was due, I panicked and finally decided to write a poem about…writing a poem. At that moment I said the heck with it and gave up (I thought at the time), let it flow and…wrote the first and last draft in less than an hour. Read on to see what the outcome was…
Of course I know now that I hadn’t given up at all – rather, I’d opened up. My lesson to learn: Don’t get hung up on perfection, loosen up, let myself come through, and let the writing flow.
Fast-forward to you, Entrepreneur Extraordinaire, passion for what you do, ready to spread the word, change people’s lives, attract high-paying clients. How to choose a perfect topic for your newsletter or blog? So many ideas, so little time, nowhere near perfect, panic rising, losing focus – whap! You’ve hit the Content Creation Wall.
Take a deep breath and grab an ice pack (metaphorically) for your head. Now let’s break it down, loosen up, let it go – so you can create some content and get your message out into the world where it belongs!
Your goal is to match what you need to say with what your reader needs to hear. This is what often gets us stuck – we put ourselves in a squeeze-play between our passion, what we’re feeling and wanting to convey, and worrying about what the reader is going to think, and of course wanting it to be perfect and – whap!
1. Let’s start with you. You have expertise to offer, signature service for your clients, lots of passion and great ideas swirling around in your head. Let the ideas flow, allow them to be not fully formed. But don’t do what adolescent me did – get to panic mode! Take some time to jot down thoughts and phrases as they stand out, stuff you know, stuff you love to know, stuff that’s great about you. Don’t panic over perfection, open up, surrender!
Now that you’re loose and in the zone, answer these questions:
Out of these jottings and answers, write down up to 5 ideas that resonate for you as potential topics. There may be many more, your head may begin to swarm again. Resist it and ‘be’ with the 5 you’ve written. If you come up with just two that resound, that’s great. And you’re done, perfect just where you are.
Here’s another part of my 8th grade poem – Do ya think I considered my reader (meaning my English teacher)?
“As I sit at my desk something catches my eye –
A notebook containing a poem by
My sister who wrote it for one of her classes.
I know it is good ‘cause she always passes.
“I take out the poem and write it again
On my own paper and with my own pen.”
2. Now for your reader, your potential client. Here’s the crux: It’s worthy and useful to unload your feelings and ideas and get them down on paper, but they don’t mean anything UNLESS AND UNTIL your reader truly hears it – or more accurately, hears what they need to hear. You want to reach them where they live so they understand you clearly, know what you’re offering, and connect to it (you) emotionally. (Obviously I had no notion of where my teacher ‘lived’ as I was writing that poem…)
Consider these questions about your best-fit clients. Jot down your answers, briefly and in the form of a list – as concisely as you can, to get to the ‘meat’ of your answer. Remember, surrender!
3. Match’em up. Reread your topic choices and compare them with your answers to the client questions. You should see some common topic threads emerging. Note these. You’re looking for the sweet spot – that intersection where your topics meet your clients’ needs. Drop the topics that aren’t matching, but file them for another time as they may fit another use. Can you see the connection happening between you and your reader? Can you picture your reader responding to your topic, saying, “Yes, this is what I need!” “Wow, you really get me!”
There you go – you’ve conquered the Content Creation Wall. You’ve corralled those fantastic swirling ideas into some messages that will matter to your best-fit clients.
These basic steps can be adapted to any content you want to create, so use this process each time you plan to write or hire someone to write for you, whether it’s blogpost, tweet, bio, ebook, sales letter, brochure, speaking topics.
And each time you go through this process of getting to that sweet spot – you may get surprised by the new ways that pop up to see your brand, your clients and yourself because you let go.
That’s what happened to adolescent me – Once I let go of being all heavy and perfect and deep, I tapped into my humorous self which has informed so much of my creative work since. And here’s the outcome:
I got an A on the poem assignment and was published in a student literary journal. (Apparently my teacher had a sense of humor too…) This is how my poem ends:
I crawl into bed (it is practically one)
With the satisfaction of a job well done.”
I wholeheartedly wish the same for you – a job well done (without the panic).
Image gratitude: 123rf photo/Lightwise
I help small-business owners succeed in making a BIG impact with their marketing – for their clients, their bottom line, the betterment of the world – through authentic, strategic, and powerful messaging.
28+ years in marketing communications, I adapt tried-and-true communications principles to today’s dynamic online marketing world. And I confess…I’m a life-long word lover, grammar geek and compulsive typo-finder!
If you’re ready to create or improve your marketing message content, let’s talk.
So, what’s all this about writer’s block?
Well, it’s a thing, for sure. Much has been written about writer’s block for the business writer, and there’s no shortage of tips to conquer it.
Know what I’m talking about? It’s when you feel – as you sit in front of that blank.white.staring screen – like your brain has suddenly become as blank as that dang screen! You both sit there, staring at each other, until your timer dings and your scheduled time for writing your blog has ended. Writer-blocked! Continue Reading