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October 3, 2016

Cindy Penchina, President

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The deeper you get into content marketing, the easier it is to get fatigued. You write, and write, and write, and then at some point you just hit a wall. It’s not like you can stop, though; blogging and content generation is an absolutely vital part of modern digital marketing, building community and adding real, tangible SEO value to your website.

But, to paraphrase sci-fi author Frank Herbert, the content must flow. Which means that you can’t let writers’ block hold you back; you have to get over it, and you need to do it now. You don’t have the luxury of waiting for inspiration to strike. Those blog posts have to go out on schedule – and they need to be fantastic.

So here are 6 ways content marketers can get past that block and start turning out great work again.

Because the clock’s a-ticking.

1) Brainstorm with a colleague

Sometimes the best way to uncork the bottle is to sit down with a coworker and toss some ideas around. Especially if you’re having a hard time figuring out what to write about, getting a fresh perspective can stir your mind in new, really interesting ways. And most importantly, it helps you get out of the same tired mental pathways. You’ll run into this advice on this list a lot, because creative blocks are often the result of being unable to get out of a little rut you’ve dug for yourself by retreading the same thoughts again and again. Getting the juices flowing again can simply be a matter of getting a challenging new idea in your head to bounce off of1

2) Read

On the same note, stepping away from your computer to take in something is usually pretty effective. Much like brainstorming, it’s about introducing new ideas and getting you thinking in unanticipated ways or about a new topic, and hopefully helping you make some conceptual leaps you hadn’t before. Heck, even something as simple as a really great turn of phrase can inspire you.

Whatever you do, try and read something by a writer who’s work you admire, who usually gets you fired up to do great work. Because excitement is a huge factor in our productivity, and the problem might simply be boredom. You want to light a fire under your own butt, not just forcing you to work, but turning work into something you’re genuinely thrilled about

3) Braindump

Forget topics. Forget being clear or coherent or entertaining. Just….start writing. Write whatever pops into your head. Complain about not liking the latest episode of your favorite show. Wax poetic about how much you love Pepsi. Reminisce. Write nonsense poetry. Just write something.

This really does work, and it’s something lots of writers (myself included) swear by. The thing is to take off the pressure to perform and just warm up those muscles. As you write nonsense, the stuff you’re thinking about – the content you have to work on – is probably going to seep out into it, and it’s entirely possible you’ll find yourself working on that content piece without even knowing it. And if you don’t? By the time you’re done and ready to work, you’ll be able to approach the topic with renewed vigor and creative energy.

Trust me

4) Rewrite something

If you can’t think of anything to write, it’s time to mine your back catalog for content. In the same way that braindumping works by getting you writing anything, rewriting old content is a way to both be productive and flex those creative muscles – while simultaneously giving you the opportunity to refresh your existing content library with new information and a fresh perspective.

And this has real SEO value, giving you more opportunities to rank for the kinds of long-tail keywords that increasingly dominate search queries. Building up a solid content library for specific topics increases your likelihood of turning up in relevant Google searches, so rewriting old content with time and experience behind you almost always means you’re finding a new take on the material in the process.

The key here is to not simply rephrase things, but to use the old content as your jumping off point, a place for real creativity and work to launch from. It’s about growth, not stagnation.

5) Try music?

Different people work with music differently. Some work great while it’s playing and others need silence. But either way, getting a little bit of music in your workday can spark your thought processes in a really effective way. Classical can be especially effective to listen to while writing – but either way, whether classical or the dirtiest trash-grunge you can find, music can spur emotions and thoughts that will break you out of your funk and get you back in the game in a huge way

6) Take a break

And if nothing else is working –take a break. Get away from work. Get away from your computer. Toss a ball against the wall. Play hangman. Take a walk. Head to Starbucks. Turn off your brain and don’t think about writing for ten or fifteen minutes. You may just need a little bit of a recharge.

So now that you know how to fix it, you’ve got no excuse for slacking off. Reboot your brain and dive back in the game!