If you ever doubted that writing and procrastination go together like gin and tonic, Google it. As I write this, that particular search yielded about 2 million results.
See, it’s not just you.
Many of the business owners I work with come to me saying that they dread writing for their business and that’s why they procrastinate on writing their blog, their ebook, their signature talk.
Or they resist because they are self-diagnosed “lousy writers.”
Again, it’s not just you. There is a lot more fear and loathing in business marketing than most people admit.
Two kinds of fear will hold you back from authentically talking about your business and the results you offer: fear that your writing chops just aren’t up to the task and fear of being seen.
Today, we’re looking at the first one.
We all carry with us ghosts of writing assignments past. That one English teacher who was merciless with the red pen, that one college essay that bombed, the novel that got rejected two dozen times (okay, maybe that one’s just mine.)
The thing is, your clients and best prospects don’t care about those things. They don’t even know.
You are free to begin again, to tell your business’s story in your authentic voice. When you do, you’ll attract the people who want and need to hear it. All the rest don’t matter.
Now’s the time to break the pattern, set the process, make a plan to be a better writer for your business.
Break the Pattern
One way to shake the “I dread writing” mindset is to break out of the usual patterns for writing. Instead of opening a Google doc on your laptop, pick up a piece of actual paper and an actual pen and hand write something. (You remember how to write, right?) You don’t need a topic and you don’t have to do anything with the outcome. Just sit down and start free writing on this topic: I do what I do (in my business) because….
Natalie Goldberg, author of Writing Down the Bones, calls this kind of work "first thoughts" and her rules are simple: keep your hand moving, don’t cross out, just get your thoughts on paper.
The morning pages practice in Julia Cameron’s “The Artist’s Way” is a similar exercise: three pages, every morning, handwritten, no agenda, no fixing.
Yes, both these books are geared toward creative writers who are striving to finish that first screenplay or other arty work. But the practice is great for those who have more practical applications. I hand write in my journal every morning.
And, I'll give you extra bonus points if you use a pen with funky colored ink. (My current favorite is a lovely shade of turquoise.)
You don’t have to handwrite everything, but try starting your next writing session with a 15-minute long-hand free write. See if it doesn’t shake you out of some old patterns.
Speaking of writing sessions…
Set The Process
How you set yourself up to work on content can make a big difference in how effective and efficient that time is. Very rarely are people lousy writers. They usually just have a lousy approach.
In previous blogs, I’ve talked about the eight steps to setting yourself up for a successful writing session. You can review them here.
Make The Plan
If you only have a handful of hours to focus on writing (because you're also, you know, running a business), a content calendar makes that time meaningful. Having a month-to-month plan of the themes and topics you’re going to talk about nixes that other procrastination tool “I don’t know what to write.” A content calendar tells you "here's what you're writing about and it publishes/posts/sends on this date, so get going."
By the way, there are still a few spaces left in my Content Calendar Build Workshop next week if you’d like more help creating a plan. Read more about the workshop here.
Your people need to hear from you, so they can figure out that they’re your people. Break up with limited thinking about writing and set your message free.
Next time, we’ll talk about the other piece of fear and loathing in content marketing: fear of being seen.