We live in a world where nothing is truly unique anymore, especially content. Major news sites are pumping articles by the minute and big corporations have caught onto a little secret called content marketing. If you’re a blogger then you might be feeling a little overwhelmed. “How could I possibly create unique content that breaks through the noise of the hot shot companies?”
Well I think that you can. In fact, I know it to be true. The only thing we have left are our stories and our lived experiences. And guess what? They’re so much more valuable than a quick life hack article that claims to know the three step process of making your life better.
Readers don’t want to be told what to do, they want to be inspired and empowered to take action. Tip sheets don’t inspire. They create fear and the content gets added to the list of ‘things that I’m not doing right’. What would happen if we shared our stories and truly connected with our readers? So here is my three step process for creating a good story, intertwined with my own creative experiences (because I believe in practicing what you preach).
Step 1: Catching the inspiration
I have loved to write ever since I was in primary school, penning corny poems to all of my friends and spending my weekends reading novels. Writing has been a constant passion but with it has come times of serious writer’s block.
The most recent occurrence was at the start of the year when I decided to take on far too much client work and beat myself into the ground. The worst part about this scenario was that it was now my job to be a writer. I was working for a magazine, my clients were paying me to write blog posts and I’d never felt less inspired. The more I worried, the worse it got. The pressure was killing my creativity. It wasn’t until I cut back on client work (and spent weeks in recovery from burn out) that I was able to start writing again.
You see, I believe that the hardest part of writing a good story is catching the inspiration. Without an idea or spark of creativity, the rest of the process can’t go ahead. Luckily, there are ways that we can beat the writer’s block and get the creativity flowing!
Inspiration needs mental and physical space to exist. This means clearing the schedule, setting some self-care time and allowing the mental space for creativity to flow. For example, I get lots of blog post ideas when I’m hanging out the laundry as it allows time and space for my mind to wander. It might seem counter-intuitive to switch our brains off but a busy mind isn’t going to help write your next book!
Step 2: Getting the words to paper
Following my writing hiatus and the slow recovery period, my brain was finally flowing with ideas. I’d caught a streak of inspiration and the muse was following me all around town. It was time to get the words onto paper.
The first thing I did was schedule at least one writing date into the diary each week. What is a writing date? For me, this looks like taking myself and my laptop out for coffee and writing for at least half an hour (sometimes two).
This method works on lots of levels but mostly I write better when I don’t have access to the Internet to distract me (coffee shops without wifi are recommended) and ordering coffee or a meal means that I have to sit with my laptop until my order is served. I must admit, writing seems like an incredible idea when you’re sitting alone in a busy coffee shop filled with couples and groups of people!
I also experimented with being a trickster (a concept made popular in Elizabeth Gilbert’s phenomenal book Big Magic) and tried recording myself speaking and writing in a series of social media posts. I found it far less daunting to publish my thoughts in bite sized social media posts and after a week or two, the content that I’d posted could then be turned into a full blog post.
Step 3: Fine-tuning and adding the magic touch
After three or four writing dates, I had successfully tricked myself back into writing and had lots of content to work with. All I had to do was fine-tune it. They say that you teach the things that you most need to learn so I wrote an article on improving your writing quality and filled it with tips on editing and fine-tuning your articles.
Using my experience in the journalism industry, I took my own advice to edit the article and had it published on The Daily Guru. If that wasn’t exciting enough, Tess Philip then read my article and asked me to feature in a podcast interview where I got to talk about the importance of story-telling (all while sharing my own story too).
Each of these steps were equally important in my journey and I wouldn’t have had the same result if I had skipped over them and pushed through the burnout. Anyone can do some research and whip up a quick 300 word article based on studies but not everyone can step into their power and share their own story (warts and all).