Blank space: Great when it’s a song by Taylor Swift, not so great in content marketing.
No, wait. I already used that analogy. Now I need a clever new intro to this post about overcoming writer’s block and resetting your content brain. I’m staring at a white screen, trying to put words together, intimidated by all that blank space.
Hey, that’s like the Taylor Swift song… no, wait.
If you’re a content creator, the previous two paragraphs likely sound familiar. There are few things more intimidating to a writer than an empty page. Sometimes, despite your best efforts—the caffeine, the snacks, the just-right Spotify playlist—your content-creating brain just won’t turn over.
It’s almost like humans weren’t meant to sit at a desk in front of 1-3 huge monitors all day long, isn’t it?
But that doesn’t mean you have to quit your awesome content marketing job to hunt and gather in the woods. Instead, try these tips to get your brain back up to speed.
#1: Stimulate Your Senses
Most modern work environments are pretty antiseptic – neutral walls, no odors (except when Frank from Accounting microwaves popcorn), minimal sound. That kind of work space can dull your senses, making you feel groggy even after the morning cuppa.
A simple change in your mid-day snack can help wake up your brain. There’s a current fad of eating an orange in the shower that’s relevant here. Dig into an orange at your desk—use your fingernails to get under the peel, pry apart the segments, let each bit explode in your mouth. The aroma, the tactile sensation, the texture and flavor combine to shake off even the heaviest doldrum.
If oranges don’t do it for you, try essential oils…or Play-Doh…or a combination of the two. Whatever invigorates as many senses as possible. (Pro-Tip: Play-Doh does not taste as good as it looks.)
#2: Lock Out Social Media
Everyone gives into the siren call of social media every now and then. As marketers, we’re more susceptible than most. We can always semi-justify checking our feeds as part of the job. When you’re feeling stuck on content creation, it’s easy to slide over to Facebook and scroll for a while.
But when you’re feeling creatively burnt out, social media is worse than a time waster—it’s only going to sink you deeper into a stupor. You’ll sit and passively consume an endless parade of content, fewer and fewer neurons firing. It’s a surefire way to be even more behind by the end of the day.
So try to steer clear of procrastination sites like Facebook and Twitter. If, like me, you find social media irresistible, try a program like StayFocusd or Focus to keep you honest.
#3: Move a Little
Ideally, when you start to feel sluggish and uncreative, you could get up and take a walk. Get out in nature, or into your local coffee shop, and enjoy a fresh perspective and a little physical activity. But weather doesn’t always permit that option—and some bosses aren’t keen on it, either.
If you can’t get out, at least get moving a bit. I have an under-desk elliptical machine that I use throughout the day. Using it makes me feel more alert and helps fight the post-lunch crash (and as a side effect, I’ve lost 15 pounds). If your budget doesn’t allow for something that elaborate, even a simple fidget cube can help.
#4: Drink Cold Water
I’ve said this before—as one of my 10 daily habits for powerful content—but it bears repeating. We’re all a little dehydrated, all the time. That lack of water can make your head ache, and make you feel hungry, anxious, irritable, sluggish, and worse. Keep a reusable water bottle on your desk and keep it full.
For maximum wake-up potential, don’t skimp on the ice. Really cold water helps wake up your senses (a la point 1) and keep you energized.
#5: Reconnect with Your Audience
One major cause of content ennui is losing sight of the bigger picture. It’s easy to think of work, even creative work, as “I get empty bucket, I fill bucket with words, I send it off.” It can feel like you’re dealing in a bulk commodity, rather than creating something useful and valuable for your audience.
Take a few minutes and listen to the voices of the people you’re trying to help. Ask your customer service team what frequently asked questions they’re receiving. Ask Sales what problems their prospects experience. Visit online communities, read reviews, check out blogs from your target audience.
Listening to your audience will help you properly value your own work—and it will help make your content more relevant, too.
Don’t Give In to the Sadness, Artax
Creative work like writing awesome content can be challenging. Sometimes everything from the work environment to our own bodies seems to be working against us. It takes a conscious effort to snap out of the doldrums, re-engage your senses, and go back to work with a renewed sense of purpose.
Still feeling stuck? Take a minute to laugh with these 20 Jokes Only a Marketer Could Love. Or try these tools for writing better blog posts.