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Productivity

Bloggers Writing Block

As a writer or blogger, sometimes your sentences flow effortlessly, like a well-oiled bicycle careening downhill. Other days, it’s an uphill struggle. Every word feels like you’re squeezing it out. Your brain gets cranky just thinking about writing, let alone getting words onto the page.

What can you do when your muse gets rusty? Put a drop of oil in to get things turning smoothly again.

Here are some of our favorite tricks.

Stash Your Creative Wealth in an Idea Bank

Ideas are like the British weather. Some days they just rain down. Then there can be a drought for weeks.

When you have an idea, jot it down. Ideas beget ideas, so once you write one idea down, you’ll find more flow out.

As you’re writing down your ideas, flesh them out as much as you can. You might believe you’ll remember it all when you sit down to write. But unless you write it down, some of it will slip your mind.

The more ideas you store in your idea bank, the easier it becomes to sit and write. Your muse is constantly rich with possibilities. Even if she’s feeling poor, you can show her the wealth you’ve stocked up in your bank, and she’ll be able to protest no longer.

Stop Writing

It sounds counterintuitive, but if you’re really struggling to get words onto the page, then burnout could be your issue.

Rather than forcing yourself to continue, take a break. Do something completely different. Go for a walk, draw in your journal, or make yourself a cup of tea.

Doing something active is especially helpful, as moving your body gets your brain in gear, and ideas will start to flow naturally.

By distracting yourself from the “problem” of your writing, you’ll often find that it resolves itself. When you return to your writing desk, you’ll be reinvigorated with a new energy.

Write About Not Wanting To Write

When you’re blocked, your thoughts can turn hostile to even the idea of writing. “I don’t want to write this,” your brain says. “I’m not going to write anything.”

Instead of trying to push those thoughts away, listen to them. Write them down, and see what they’ve got to say to you. Giving them attention and letting them have their say means they’ll stop trying to distract you.

Here’s a simple exercise: Sit down and write all the reasons you don’t want to write. Keep going until you have them all down, and don’t let your pen (or fingertips) stop moving until you’re done.

Make a Mess

A big reason many writers get blocked is perfectionism. We want our words to be just so. That’s fair enough if you’re writing poetry, but for blog posts, you don’t need to strive for perfection. What matters is the information you’re sharing, not the words you use to share it.

So don’t get hung up over crafting your sentences perfectly. Instead, just write. You can always go back and edit later. Usually, I find that writing fast improves the quality of my writing.

Ultimately, the only way to beat blogger’s block is to get words onto the page. So start writing, and see where your imagination takes you. You might be surprised at the journey – and the destination.

Social Media Success

For we social marketers to play the whole field when it comes to social media, our co-workers must work with us as a team. The clue’s in the name, after all. It’s close to impossible to be social all by yourself.

Trouble arises when not all your team are on board with social media. It’s even worse when co-workers actively or sub-consciously sabotage your social success. This sabotage can be blatant or subtle. Either way, you need to know how to spot it, so you can nip it in the bud.

Here are the ways your co-workers can undermine all your social media efforts:

Wasting Time on Facebook and Twitter

This is a really subtle way of undermining your social strategy. It’s especially pernicious, as it causes so much damage.

When your co-workers use social media as a procrastination tool, they’re doing their utmost to show your boss that social media is bad for business. These co-workers are creating a negative image of social media than will undermine your efforts to create a powerful social strategy.

The solution: Be clear with your team that when in the workplace, social media is about creating great content, not about consuming content. They can do all the consuming they like in their own time.

“You’re Wasting Your Time”

This is similar to the previous point, except instead of wasting time their own on social media, your co-workers accuse you of wasting time every time you log into a social network.

People with this mindset may have an even more aggressive approach: “Nothing good will come of it,” or they may be more subtle, expressing their criticism as concern: “Are you sure you’re doing it right?”

Telling you that you’re wasting your time is a clear challenge to your vision and strategy. In effect, those who do this are questioning the value of your work.

The solution: Be open about sharing your strategy, the results you expect to see, and why you’re doing things a certain way. Asking for input from others is one of the best ways to get your co-workers on board with your vision.

Refusing to Try New Technology

The landscape of social is constantly changing. New social networks rise and old ones fall with every passing year.

To those who are afraid of change, this constant influx of new technology can be intimidating. They’d prefer to stick to the old ways – “How we’ve always done things here.”

Yes, there are some dinosaurs you’ll never convince to post a tweet, no matter how hard you try. But for the most part, you should recognize this strategy for what it is. Those who refuse to try new things are burying their heads in the sand. Technology will continue to develop at an ever-faster pace. These ostriches need to man-up and realize that the world has moved on; otherwise they risk dragging you all down to their level.

The solution: Offer training to those at risk of falling behind with social media. Integrate social tools into the daily workflow of your company, so no one has an excuse for ignoring them.

They Rarely Take Initiative or Learn Things for Themselves

There was a time (many, many decades ago) when jobs were for life. You spent your youth learning the skills you needed for your chosen profession.

You might have learned a few new things on the job, but mostly work was the same every day.

These days, most people change jobs every four years. That means having at least ten jobs within a career. We’re all constantly learning new things. That’s why Google comes in so handy. Anything you’re stuck with, you can find a solution, fast.

Yet some people haven’t yet realized the help Google can offer, or they refuse to seek help from a computer. They prefer to stay stuck or to cry for help from colleagues. While it’s fine to ask for help sometimes, if your co-workers can’t take the initiative and work things out for themselves on social media, you’ll find that you’re constantly firefighting instead of doing your real work.

The solution: Give a man a fish, you’ll feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, and you’ll feed him for life. Teach your team that Google is their friend and that it’s okay to take the initiative.

Bad-Mouthing Customers

Sadly, this happens all too often in businesses with a negative culture. If it happens on your team, you need to turn that around.

Social media is all about engaging positively with your customers and listening to what they need. If your team sees customers as a problem to be dealt with rather than the lifeblood of your business, then they’ll struggle to get the point of social media.

The solution: Make it clear to all your team that your customers ultimately pay their salaries. No customers, no jobs. Then lead by example. Take a positive attitude to customer enquiries, and teach others to do the same.

Thinking They Know Best

Just because anyone can set up a Facebook account doesn’t mean anyone knows how to engage effectively on social media. It’s a great idea to empower your team to be involved in your social strategy. However, you’ll need to steer them carefully so they know what makes good marketing and what will alienate your fans and followers. You’re the one who will have to clean up if they mess things up on social.

The solution: Make sure all your team know about social media best practices. When someone’s still learning, have him or her ride with training wheels, so you check their updates and comments before they post them.

Refusing to Pitch In

The best social strategies involve your whole team. You want everyone to pitch in to make things happen and contribute their unique perspectives.

People who say, “Social media is your job because you’re the social media manager” are sabotaging your company’s social success.

The solution: Explain the value of everyone being involved, and be vulnerable enough to admit that you can’t go it alone.

Marketing Change Your Life

Marketers are remarkable people. Thanks to a few cowboys, they sometimes get a bad rap. But most marketers do a sterling job of understanding human nature, helping businesses to grow, and selling products.

Marketing isn’t just for marketers. If you plan to do well in life, you’ll need to learn some basic marketing skills. Integrate these into your life, and you’ll find you see the world in a whole new way.

1. Looking for the Best In Things

The marketer’s role is to help businesses put their best foot forward. Marketers look for the best in their clients and shape that into a compelling story.

Learning to look on the bright side is a brilliant life skill whatever your field of work.

Whenever you come across something you’re unsure or feel skeptical about, instead of dismissing it, see what you can learn from it. Look for the best in things, and the world will become a brighter place.

Practice: At the end of each day, look back over your day and notice three things you are grateful for.

2. Making Connections

Marketers are always joining the dots and making unlikely connections. It’s not just about creativity, either.

How you get on in the world will have more to do with who you know than what you know. As such, it’s essential that you make connections with people who can help you achieve your dreams.

Networking isn’t about clinical business relationships. It’s about making friends for life, who will enrich your life and offer you a helping hand when you need it. But if you’re not willing to give, you won’t get anything in return.

Practice: Connect with someone new every week, whether through email or face-to-face. Even if only 50% of those you reach out to become part of your network, by the end of the year you’ll have 25 new contacts.

3. Telling Stories

People make sense of the world through stories. We all do it. We shape our lives into stories to make them meaningful. We escape into stories through movies, TV, and novels in our free time. Stories forge connections between people and shape the path of history.

Stories don’t have to be long. A story can be as short as a few words. A single image can tell many stories, all at the same time.

Learn to tell stories that make people sit up and listen. Stories will get people to back you and your vision.

Practice: Keep a “story box” of stories you can tell to new people you meet. You’ll use your best stories over and over again.

4. Adding Value

In the story of Cinderella, the fairy godmother uses her magic wand to turn a pumpkin into a horse-drawn carriage. That’s adding value. It’s taking something that already exists and making it even better.

You don’t need a magic wand to add value. You just need ideas for improving stuff that already exists. Whenever you’re in a situation and you make it better, you’re adding value.

If you have a job or you run a business, the reason you earn a living is because you add value.

Practice: Consciously add value to something today. The easiest way to add value is during conversation. You can do this by:

  • Saying thank you when someone helps you out.
  • Offering to help a colleague on a project with a tight deadline, even though it’s not technically your “role” to do so.
  • Giving away free advice.
  • Listening more than you speak.
  • Asking insightful questions.

5. Pushing Yourself to Be Your Best

Marketers always want to improve. They’re forever on the lookout for tiny tweaks that will make things slightly better. Marketers often work on commission, so if they can shift more products, they’ll take home a bigger paycheck.

Yes, it’s great to notice the best in what you already have. But alongside that, being willing to grow is a valuable approach to life. This is known as the growth mindset.

Practice: What is one area of your life where things aren’t as rosy as you’d like them to be? Maybe it’s a relationship, your job, your fitness, or how you spend your free time. Think of a small tweak you can make to improve things (just one), and commit to it for a week.

6. Adopting Beginner’s Mind

Marketers who assume what their audience wants are destined to fail. They have to be in touch with the zeitgeist of the times, and with the specific needs and desires of their target market.

Likewise, a marketer who refuses to learn new things is a marketer who’s heading out of a job.

That’s why marketers need “beginner’s mind.” This means setting aside assumptions and adopting an attitude of openness. The person with beginner’s mind is always willing to learn new things.

As Zen teacher Shunryu Suzuki says: “In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities, in the expert’s mind there are few.”

Practice: When your curiosity is piqued, follow it. Seek to learn new things every day, and allow your life to be an adventure.

7. Learning from Failure

Marketing is both a science and an art.

It’s a science because you can track data to discover what works. Making decisions based on data is one of marks of a good marketer.

Marketing is an art because there’s never a guarantee of success. What worked yesterday might not work tomorrow. Failure lurks around every corner.

Rather than allowing the risk of failure to invoke despondency, the marketer treats every failure as a learning opportunity. For the marketer, life is an experience. Failures don’t mean that they’ve failed. Failures are an opportunity to try again.

Practice: Think over some of the mistakes you’ve made in your life. What did you learn from them? Did your mistakes help you to grow, or did you use them as excuses and let them hold you back?

8. Communicating Simply

Marketers know that jargon excludes people. They’re aware that everyone is busy, and few people have the time to untangle complicated sentences.

That’s why marketers communicate in a simple, no-nonsense style. They’re not trying to impress anyone with their vocabulary or their specialist knowledge. Instead, they’re willing to step across the chasm, to do the hard work of bridging differences, to make communication possible.

Because of this, marketers are more likely to be listened to. They’re more likely to make a difference.

Practice: The next time you write an email, go back through it and get rid of jargon and long words. Make each sentence only as long as it needs to be and no longer.