Are you crushing your creativity? Retrain your brain
Written by James T. Noble and published
Everyone knows content marketing works – but no one said it was easy.
For content to have a serious impact on your business, you’ve got to be dedicated. You’ve got to produce relevant, informative, engaging and valuable works (be they tweets, blog entries, videos, infographics, etc.). Not only that, but you’ve also got to produce enough of this literary and visual manna to entertain your discerning audience and occupy a permanent warm and fuzzy place in their hearts and minds.
A lot of us entrepreneurs, business owners and even SEOs aren’t exactly what you’d call “natural born writers.” Most of the time our ambitious brains are geared up for ingenuity, problem solving and money spinning – not for creating cleverly crafted works of literary genius. And with all the demands of the many other parts of our job, we often don’t have the time necessary for it either.
But we are brave and motivated. We embrace challenge and spurn thoughts of failure (we’re usually more than a little stubborn), so we tackle content creation with gusto and jam some daily, dedicated content time into our already hectic schedules.
We know what we have to do and we know our deadlines, so we sit down in front of the screen (or a pen and paper for the traditionalists among us) and…
No fountain of knowledge spurts forth.
Total brain freeze.
We wrack our already overloaded brains for fresh ideas and witty anecdotes but if we manage to produce anything at all, it nearly always seems to fall far short.
Now sure, you could hand your content creation to someone else (Editor’s Note: Raven partner Textbroker is a good choice), but not all of us can afford professional copywriting services. Quality writers don’t come cheap, and many entrepreneurs and start-ups are on a tight budget.
What we need to do is understand the nature of the beast – that elusive fount of creativity we’re all searching for. What causes that creative block, and how can we defeat it?
What causes creative block?
Well it turns out that while we may not be natural born writers, we are natural born rebels. If you were one of those kids who hated to be told to sit down and study every night after school – you’ll empathise with this.
You see, while we may think we are the master of our own minds, the truth is that there is a heck of a lot of subconscious stuff going on up there that we just aren’t aware of.
By giving ourselves such rigid rules for content creation, we are dooming ourselves to failure. Why? Because our brains are one step ahead of the game, and they know that life gets in the way of even the best laid plans.
It’s all too easy to get overwhelmed by other aspects of running a business, and the struggle to stick to our content creation agenda can quickly prove too much, resulting in the time set aside for copywriting being sequestered for other pressing priorities.
And once we start putting things off, our subconscious gets the message that our content creation strategy is not viable. So what does our brain do? It mutinies, because who wants to invest in a plan that’s going to fall through? That has the consequence of reducing motivation, triggering procrastination and causing our dreaded complete creative block.
The lesson? You can’t force your brain to generate motivation out of thin air. You will only be motivated when your brain believes in both your goal and your plan for accomplishing the goal.
Get your brain on board
So how can we convince our brains to believe in our content creation strategy? Here are a few ways:
Be realistic and take unnecessary pressure away from your schedule. Sure, you can plan, but don’t be too hard on yourself. Create a plan that you know you can stick to – such as a certain number of hours a week at times of your choosing.
Only plan for the short-term. Don’t swamp yourself with long-term commitments that are more likely to fall through. Break projects down into easily manageable chunks and treat them all individually. Start small – you can always build up as time progresses and your brain gains confidence in you.
Know your limits
Yes, everyone can improve with practice, but not everyone is a natural content creator. Practice takes time. Don’t put undue pressure on yourself by demanding too much. Be honest – if the kind of content you want to put out is beyond your current capabilities, pass it on to someone who can do a better job of it and free up your time to focus on other projects more suited to your skills.
Relieve the pressure
The best ideas often arrive when you’re not expecting them. If you can relieve the pressure of creating content, you’ll begin to see great ideas everywhere (just remember to jot them down for later). Refocus on your passion and enthusiasm for what you do. Have conversations with smart friends. Stay flexible and realistic and you’ll begin to retrain your brain and spur it on to creativity.