Many marketers and PR professionals keep a blog. But how many keep a journal?
The phrase “CONTENT IS KING” has been trumpeted to one end of the Internet and back. But while creating content is easy, creating engaging content is not.
Written content can pose a particular challenge, as anyone who blogs can tell you. Many a marketer has suffered the frustration of sitting down to write a blog post….
…and waiting for inspiration to strike…
…and nothing happens.
The thing is, you can’t schedule creativity. Good written content is not something you call upon when you need it, it’s an all-encompassing mentality cultivated by the constant flexing of your writing chops.
How do you train your brain to have a “writer’s mentality” that constantly spews brilliant content? The answer is simple: you write.
Start by writing, every day.
A diary or a journal is, by definition, a daily written record of things – news, happenings, ideas, thoughts, opinions, questions, you name it. The topic almost doesn’t matter (though as a marketer, it’ll likely have a marketing slant).
What this does is build a habit that eventually becomes a lifestyle. Just as “being fit” or “eating healthy” doesn’t happen until you establish a routine of going to the gym daily or cutting out soda, “being a writer” doesn’t happen until your daily writing habit is so ingrained that it becomes intuitive.
Your ability to write brilliantly is like a peddling a bike: you have to pump hard in the beginning, but once you gain speed and momentum your legs hardly have to work at all. But if you stop, you’ll start to slow down and the peddling gets hard again.
First write for you, then re-write for everyone else.
The beauty of a diary is that you write for your eyes only. Some of it will be drivel; some of it will be usable. But writers from Virginia Wolf (“The habit of writing thus for my own eye only is good practice; it loosens the ligaments”) to Stephen King (“Write with the door closed, re-write with the door open”) have stressed how important this process is.
Once you have written your unfiltered thoughts in your marketing journal, then you can re-write for your audience – and post it on your blog!
A diary = an incubator for great ideas.
If you’re ever written an honest stream of consciousness, you know that many of those thoughts are, well, just thoughts.
Far from being useless, these incomplete fragments are some of the most valuable things you’ll produce. They are seeds. As 1930’s ad exec James Webb Young outlined in his book A Technique for Producing Ideas, an idea needs to go through a stage of “unconscious processing” before the “a-hah!” moment in which a creative solution emerges.
By writing every day, you create a backlog of half-formed ideas – any one of which could become a brilliant piece of content when something sparks you to revisit it.
A diarist captures living moments.
“It was while writing a diary that I discovered how to capture the living moments,” said avid diarist Anaïs Nin.
If good marketing is about telling brand stories in a raw and spontaneous way, then as marketers we should strive to capture these “living moments” in our written content. The more you write out your daily thoughts on marketing, the universe and everything, the more you will see trends, issues and moments worth seizing and writing about.
I challenge you, marketers!
Try keeping a “marketing journal,” even if it’s not a diary in the traditional sense of the word. We live in an age where digital tools enable us to be even more dedicated record-keepers than our predecessors – thanks to tools like Evernote and Feedly that allow us to store digital notebooks on our devices and access customized feeds of inspiring content whenever we desire.
So give it a shot. You might find that your blog content gets a creativity boost. And hey, if it doesn’t work out for you, at least you can write an interesting blog post about how wrong I am!
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