What stops you from getting your ideas down and out there?
If the results of our latest survey* are anything to go by, the biggest hurdle for potential business bloggers is the fear that what they write just won’t be interesting enough. This even pips ‘finding the time to write‘ as the toughest writing struggle of all.
We all want people to like us. The words we choose to publish represent us when we’re not in the room and we are worried they’ll let us down.
Will this article be compelling enough? I don’t want to come across as pompous, or mundane, or worst of all, boring! How do I make what I write interesting – to the reader as well as to me?
Sound familiar? You’re definitely not alone.
The girl with crimped pink hair
Like many professionals I suffer from Fear of Being Boring syndrome.
On a bad day, when I read posts by my peers, particularly the giants in the industry, I WISH I could be more like them. What they write is so fascinating! Sprinkled with sparkling metaphors and stories and strong opinions. How can I aspire to that?
Harsh eh? Our inner critics are way more merciless than anyone else would be.
So how can we silence those tyrannical inner voices when it comes to writing the content we need to connect with customers today? How can we find the confidence to create likeable content that hits the right note?
Trusted tricks to make your fear disappear
Luckily I have a few tried and tested tricks up my sleeve to give me the confidence to get over myself and write.
1. Focus on helping someone you care about
Have a real person in mind when you write – a customer or prospect you’d love to help. Channel all your energy on helping someone you care about and you’re unlikely to worry about being dull.
Try writing the first draft of your blog article as if it’s an email to your favourite customer, one-to-one. That always works for me.
Focus on being helpful – more mentor than muse.
2. Pursue curiosity not creativity
Take the pressure off trying to ‘be creative’ with your writing and follow your natural curiosity instead.
This comment from photographer Chris Burkard struck a chord:
“Curiosity. I’ve always felt it could be even more important than creativity. Just being willing to follow a road till its end, or venture into unknown territory. Those actions for me are fuelled by curiosity and the never-ending pursuit to seek things & places foreign to me. Creativity will always find a way to come through when we keep ourselves outside the comfort zone.”
A great reminder to pursue the subjects we’re fascinated by, to delve ever deeper into our areas of expertise.
Try putting thoughts of creativity aside and write in pursuit of deeper knowledge. Creativity will follow curiosity when we’re brave enough to take ourselves outside our comfort zone.
3. Team up with a supportive writing buddy
Buddy up with a writing partner – someone you trust, who has your back and encourages you, who will give you constructive feedback on what works and what falls flat.
Sharon and I buddy up on every piece of content we write. Sharon’s outside perspective, suggestions and encouragement gives me the confidence that I’m on the right track.
Who could you ask?
4. Make it a conversation not a monologue
Being part of a conversation is generally more interesting than listening to a monologue.
Devices like asking questions stop your content from feeling boring, because they pull the reader closer to you. It’s harder to drift off if you’re invited to think how you’d respond to something.
Don’t you think?
5. Know that writing is a process you can learn
Some writers are born with an innate gift. For the rest of us good writing is a process. We can learn to write well, to use the right words in the right order so what we write holds a reader’s interest. Writing then becomes something to do, not something we are.
Study what works and why, and how to structure an article so it flows. Learn the formula for writing fascinating headlines and how to begin and end a good post.
Sharon and I will do all we can to help you build your writing confidence. I’d highly recommend the brilliant Henneke Duistermaat’s articles and writing courses too. And Ann Handley’s book ‘Everybody Writes’ is a super useful guide.
Put the work in and build your confidence over time. Watch this:
Ditch the fear and do it your way
So when it comes to your writing, stop worrying about your peers. The girl with the pink crimped hair probably wishes she had blue hair and that her boyfriend in the band was less of an idiot. Really, it’s fruitless trying to be someone else.
I know it’s really hard when people say ‘be yourself’ because we’re all complex and act differently in situations.
What version of myself do you mean? Surely not the one who’s really grumpy because I haven’t slept properly? The one where I’m shouting at the kids? The one who’s feeling nervous before a big presentation?
The best version to channel when you’re writing is the one where you’re in your element, doing what you do best and what you love most. And although it sounds like a naff inspirational quote (on a poster with a sunset behind) you genuinely are unique, and that’s amazing, so do it your way.
Team up with a blogging buddy, fixate on helping, take a course – find whatever combination of confidence-building techniques that’s best for you. Then take a giant leap and get your ideas down and out.
Go for it! Backing you all the way.
* Results of our survey into content writing challenges
“When it comes to writing content such as blogs, what are the biggest challenges you face?”
That’s the question we put to our clients, contacts and social media followers. Not a large-scale scientific survey, more a ‘finger in the air’ temperature test, but enlightening results none the less.
When writing content what do you struggle with? (check all that apply)
- Getting started = 38%
- Coming up with ideas = 38%
- Finding the time = 63%
- Lack of confidence in writing skills = 42%
- Making it interesting = 67%
Big thanks to all those who took the time to kindly complete the survey.