During Diwali, it’s customary to socialize and meet the family. Some distant, some close. It’s fun to catch up with everyone and know how they are doing.
Except for uncle Rajesh.
Meeting him can be tricky.
Rajesh kaka is in his 60s, has a mustache the size of a squirrel, and speaks with a rather squeaky voice. He is not a bad guy, though.
Whenever I visit him, he makes tea for me.
But I feel an impending doom when I sit down to drink the tea.
Our conversations are interesting. For the first 7 minutes. We start with ‘Cricket (it’s our favorite sport). We then move to the weather. Then we talk about work for a bit. Then come back to Cricket again.
And then, we hit a block.
The struggle is real. The brain is working at full speed but to no avail.
No matter how much we try, we can’t think of anything new to say.
A similar thing happens when we are just starting our writing journey – We feel we have nothing new to say.
There is tremendous self-doubt
When we start, everything is unclear. Like a foggy night in cold winter. We are unsure who our audience is and what value we add to them. We are not quite sure about our unique point of view. This lack of clarity prevents us from coming up with original ideas.
And before we know it, anxiety hits us like a 400-pound Gorilla.
How do we navigate through this?
1. The goal is to write poorly
If you don’t know what to say, wouldn’t it be better to figure out what you want to say? How about a 45-day exercise where you research your market, find your competition, and then decide what you want to write about?
Oh, I have a better idea. How about a 3-month course on Content Writing?
I hope you notice the sarcasm here.
That’s a bad strategy.
Even when your whole being screams at you – “You are an imposter. You have nothing original to say!”
We gotta keep running. We gotta keep shipping.
Because only after shipping the bad stuff, the real good stuff starts coming out.
Make peace with the fact that your writing is going to be poor. It’s unburdening.
Which takes us to the next strategy. Stealing!
2. Steal the work of others
Stealing is bad.
Or is it?
When we start our content creation journey, we don’t have a proven track record or a portfolio overflowing with work. We are beginners with few (or no) case studies and limited experiences to share. And that’s okay. We all begin there.
And this is where you should get into stealing.
How do you steal?
A couple of ways to do that –
1. Steal from a single source, give them credit, and add your unique perspective to the work they have done.
What resonated with you?
What failed to resonate?
What would be better?
2. Steal from multiple sources (give them credit if needed), process all the information, and create your version.
Both these approaches work just fine.
But won’t my writing just look like a copy
This is a valid concern.
However, know that when you steal from others and add your perspective, your work is no longer identical to theirs.
It’s similar to giving a Biryani recipe to 10 different people. Even with the same recipe, each of those 10 people will make a Biryani dishes that taste different.
Example – Take a look at this article by Louis Grenier, where he talks about creating a product narrative. Watch how he accumulated information from multiple sources, gave credit, and added recommendations and his unique personality to the article.
3. Anger is an excellent fuel
But didn’t Buddha say something along the lines of ‘Holding on to anger is like holding on to hot coal?’
In what world can anger be helpful?
In the world of writing.
When we start, we might be unclear about our audience, point of view, and so on… but we are clear about one thing.
Our frustration about the status quo.
Our anger with how things are done today.
This anger, when channelized well, can be an efficient fuel for our writing. Anger gives us tremendous energy that destroys all self-doubts and concerns.
Here’s a good question you can ask yourself – “What about ____ makes me really angry?”
The blank space is your topic.
When I hit a block, I ask myself – “What about Marketing makes me really angry?”.
But won’t my writing always be unoriginal and disorganized
Even with all the above tips, wouldn’t my writing still be disorganized? Like blindly throwing darts at a board, hoping some of them will hit? All the tips you have mentioned above don’t talk about my unique voice… my unique perspective?
You are right. When we start, it’s all messy.
With time, you slowly inch towards a crisp positioning. With data, you understand the audience that resonates with your work. You realize what you stand for and the change you want to make with your writing.
With time, patience, and care, your positioning becomes stronger, and your writing becomes crisper. Unique ideas start flowing.
Here’s what we have covered so far. When we start writing, it can feel like pushing a huge rock up a mountain. But we can keep a goal of writing poorly, it’s unburdening. We can steal the work of others. And we can channelize our anger.
With these tips, you would almost always be able to write. And never run out of words.
Not when you are talking to uncle Rajesh, though. That will always continue to be a problem.