How to Create Consistently Great Content for the Long Haul

How to Create Consistently Great Content for the Long Haul

Reader Comments (38)

  1. Great insights and practical tips. I also use Paperless by Crush Apps to capture ideas and topics. Mark Levy wrote a great book on Freewriting called Accidental Genius. Also, I find that it’s helpful as Steven Pressfield would say, you’re a writer when you call yourself a writer. And, because of “turning pro” in our minds, we are in a writer’s mindset and will notice ideas, stories, topics everywhere. Having this mentality helps me fight through the resistance and get more of what I’m focused on. Thanks!

  2. Freewritimg—I first learned to freewrite from my 11th grade English teacher who made us do it on a regular basis. It was in his class that I first realized that I actually could write. 28 years later I still use free writing to work through blocks, brainstorm and uncover new ideas.

    • Agreed, Jim – freewriting consistently gets me unstuck when I fear all hope is lost! ๐Ÿ™‚ I’m glad it’s helpful for you, as well.

  3. The first time I tried freewriting I was amazed at how hard it is! You don’t realize how much stopping and starting you do while writing until you try to not stop and start. But it’s great for getting ideas out (some great and some terrible) and being okay with whatever comes out. No one says it has to be perfect the first time around.

  4. Stacks of notebooks in piles of boxes, mostly untouched, form the foundation of my creativity. I rid myself of a lot of toxic emotion and honed my writing skills in those notebooks. They are not for public consumption, but every once in a while I take a peek to confirm my progress as a human being and as a writer. Unlike Tharp, I don’t scratch through them for ideas now, but for confidence. Sometimes I need that ‘way more than creativity.

  5. Hi,

    This is a great post for a Friday!

    You know what they say about all work and no play, right?

    Sitting in the home office day after day can become stale, and you risk becoming a stale content writer. Knock off early one day during the week and do something fun like doing arts and crafts. Make something out of toothpicks or popsicle sticks. Get creative, get funky, and get jiggy with creativity. It will do your content creation good.

    *I like to take a break fro writing. Why? Because I need to refresh my mind, body, and soul. If I don’t take time to recharge, my writing becomes dull and boring. Plus, when I see the sun shining (I live in the Midwest), I have to take advantage of it and get outside. ๐Ÿ™‚

    Do something fun and different this weekend? It will do you and your content writing good.

  6. Great piece Beth. I really needed that. My creative habit is connecting with people who are in different disciplines. It may be via Skype or in person but I really like to get to the people who are doing it.

    It’s cool to get an understanding of what their routines and habits are; as well as get an understanding of what they struggle with and how they overcome it.

    Thanks for the post. Look forward to meeting you at #SMMW13 and turning #HashtagsToHandshakes

    • Max – Twyla Tharp does a workout at the same gym every day. She talks about her workout routine a lot in her book, and how it helps her get started with her day. Good stuff!

  7. I think this is the most helpful creative article I’ve read in a long time. As the daughter of a “scattered” designer, I believed for the longest time that creativity and inspiration just fell out of the sky like snowflakes. I wasn’t taught any habits or processes, and I assumed that none were needed.

    I keep my own hand in a few different creative endeavors, mainly writing, crafting, and graphic design. My favorite excuse for procrastination was ” I just can’t sit down and work, I need to be inspired.” And then it became clear that starving artists often become that way because they just don’t produce and ship on a regular basis. They’re waiting to be inspired. Bad idea.

    My favorite suggestion for a way to get your creative mind working for writing is to put active thought into things you do every day. If you wash the dishes every day, try describing the process in your head as your doing it, but from the point of view of someone else. It can spark a fictional story idea, or help you find a problem that you can solve for your readers that would make an amazing post. When you have the idea, write it down immediately. So many good ideas are lost when the phone rings or something else gets your attention.

    • Great suggestions, Joanna – thank you! And if you haven’t read it already, get Twyla Tharp’s book – it sounds like you would really enjoy it.

  8. Great tips Beth! I would even go a step further and say that another way to build your creativity is to take really good care of your creative instrument: yourself. When your properly nourish your body, your brain and your life, you’ll be an unstoppable creative force because you’ll finally have the energy, clarity and focus you need to perfectly execute your ideas. Thanks for the inspiration!

  9. “Be Creative” and “Grope in the Dark” are those legitimate quotes for a free writing. When I started to write, I used to write in a piece of paper. Many papers went into the dustbin; and finally it came out well in the end.

  10. Hey Beth your tips are very practical. Writing a lot keeps us stay in shape for sure. Writing is just like exercising your muscle. Initially it hurts and it is not very pleasant. But when you get used to it, the benefits are great.

    Also, yes I find myself to be very creative whenever I pick up a book that is outside my topic ๐Ÿ™‚

  11. The first two years that I blogged, I posted daily. I didn’t care if I had followers or awesome SEO. I simply wanted a way to hold myself accountable for writing something every day. It was a terrific exercise in creating a habit. I ended up taking four years of posts down and starting a new blog. I extracted similar posts, cataloged them and put them into folders on my hard drive. I just published my first e-book and that content was an invaluable resource!

    When your job is driven by creativity on demand, it’s crucial to learn how to stay inspired. Great post, thank you!

    Cheers,
    Madge

  12. Beth, this is such a wonderful post!

    I have decent writing habits, but I know they could be so much better. And your post came at the perfect time when I was primed for such inspiration. ๐Ÿ™‚ I was just thinking about how hard I’ve worked and focused to create better habits this year for eating better and exercising. And in a year, I’ve become pretty good at something (yoga) that a year ago I wasn’t even considering doing. Why? Habits and just doing it day after day after Namaste-saying day. Now imagine applying that elsewhere in my life and think about the gains in a year, five years, ten years.

    The power of habit is SO underrated. We so often think in terms of quick fixes as opposed to long-term patterns of behavior that will lead to slow but steady growth … but that growth is what sustains and is meaningful. And the tips you’ve provided here are SO useful for people trying to cultivate better creative habits. Excellent work!

    • Hey, Jerod! I agree that habits are totally underrated. And I love your yoga comparison…what could we do a year from now if we practiced these creative habits on a daily/weekly basis? Good stuff!

  13. Awesome article Beth. I was completely fed up in writing, but this post totally motivating 4 me. Thanks !!!!!!!!!!

  14. Beth,

    I loved this post. In fact I read it twice. I love the practical advice and suggestions on how to keep track of my ideas and stay creative.

    I am using a similar system for my ongoing projects. I keep everything for each project in its own bin. But I still need to improve on the other habits. It is hard to form good habits, but I seem to fall naturally into bad habits.

    Also, thanks for reminding me of how much I love Twyla Tharpโ€™s incredible choreography. She is truly an inspiration. Check out her work in the movie Hair and in Nine Sinatra Songs.

    • Thanks, Clara! I need to go and watch some of Twyla’s work – I haven’t see any of her stuff! But man, did I love this book. I’m reading it again, this time with a highlighter in my hand.

  15. Hi Beth,
    I couldn’t agree more with you about this. I read somewhere- I can remember where but It might have been a post- that WRITING IS A MUSCLE! And, of course, this muscle needs to be trained everyday! It makes complete sense and I am not one of those who believe in the MUSE CALLING…::) I just think it’s an excuse not to face the blank page or sheet.

    I like the ideas you give regarding creativity! At the moment, I am developing my own creativity tools and they are very simple! Depending on my mood, I choose to write longhand! Staying away from the computer helps you use the creative side of your brain and since I can’t resist clicking here or there, it works for me!

    I am also using some form of drawings for article outlines and E-books for clients! I can’t draw really well ( in fact it’s quite horrible for someone to see) but I like using paper and crayons! It changes the way you decide what to write about and ideas just flow!

    When I brainstorm, I do some mind mapping but there again, no computer! I have bought myself a nice drawing pad and it’s now part of my writing arsenal! I used to dictate too since I once worked in a law firm and used this method quite a lot! It’s good when you have quick ideas but a pad can do to!

    Anyway, I have noticed that creative habits improve my writing “muscle” but also prevent me from getting bored because writing on the computer all day long can be a creative killer!!

    Hope my little techniques will inspire some of you.

    Regards,

    Yoan

    • I love these ideas, Yoan! Thanks for sharing. Mind mapping is fantastic for me, especially for large projects. Gives me some structure to hang the project on, and it seems less overwhelming that way.

      • Thanks, Beth! I actually bought Mind Mapping ( the book) by Tony Buzan, who is the absolute authority in the field and it’s incredibly interesting! Leonardo Da Vinci, Gallileo and Einstein already used Mind Mapping!! We can all become geniuses in our own right! I know that many top Hollywood screenwriters use mind mapping too! Apparently the key to a really good mind map is keyword which must match the exact same length as the branch. I am reading it now, so I’ll know more! It’s also important to have TOTALLY NON-LINEAR BRANCHES as this is how our brain is; non-linear!! I can’t stand the long lists anymore!!

        Regards,

        Yoan

  16. If something isn’t working for me I like to jump into a new doc and just freewrite a load of stuff without the constraints of the surrounding book. Once the paragraphs are edited into shape I can simply cut and paste them into the book and delete the temp doc.

    Must be a psychological thing!

  17. I am encouraged to know that other people like me struggle to keep pace with their creative work of writing

  18. The post absolutely speaks my mind. I am not an English native speaker so I think I could understand this the best than anybody else. I don’t have such advantage of using the language naturally as you guys but I believe practicing is the greatest key ever to the writing success. Keep practicing until it comes as a habit in your blood and nothing can take it out. That is actually how I learnt to improve my English (in all comprehensive skills not just writing). A great great post Beth!

  19. Being creative all the time can be daunting, but I agree that small habits are the key aspect in this case. And I have my own example too. It’s trying to get to work taking a different route (or at least with a different mean of transportation) every day. It’s not easy but fun, every day starts in a different way ๐Ÿ™‚

  20. Ahh yes, habits. Aren’t they amazing? I certainly think so; in fact I think I mention them in almost every single blog post I write!

    I have somewhat of a system, but I’d love it to be more integrated. Evernote continually pops up all over the internet and I feel as if I should make the switch over from MS OneNote, problem is, OneNote is so tightly intertwined with Windows 8 that it’s such a pleasure to use. I don’t own a smartphone at the moment, maybe I’ll have a look into Evernote when I get one. I’d rather go paperless in any situation, of course – that’s just me.

    That’s a really well written excerpt there, going in my ‘findings and words’ box for sure ๐Ÿ˜‰ I have a strong belief that anything can be creative (I say anything quite loosely). Even if you’re blogging about finance – you can be creative. There’s no limits.

    I’ve used the free-writing technique before, it’s worked well. These days I sort of provide myself with an outline, whether it be sub-headings or a few quotes – but after that I just type as fast as possible; maybe that’s why I get my blog posts done so fast!

    Thanks heaps, Beth! Really enjoyed this post ๐Ÿ™‚

  21. I was blessed with creativity. It seems to ooze out of me, sometimes so much that I’m overwhelmed because I can’t do all I’d like to do fast enough. It’s a nice problem to have. That said, I still have my days where I sit at the computer with nothing. Your suggestions – read, free write, look at other’s creative work, do a different creative venture, and nature – are spot on. When I feel stuck at writing, I play music, read a book, look at photos, or go out in nature and take photos. It works wonders. That’s why my blog http://www.danerickson.net has such variety of posts. poems, books, music, and photos.

  22. Great tips and valuable insight! Working from home, it is often challenging to get into a writing “groove” due to external factors like kids, household duties, and keeping things running smoothly. You have good advice and I will definitely use it! I have found that sometimes the things that keep you from being able to write can also be an inspiration for a topic. Thanks again!

  23. Great article, Beth! Thanks for sharing those amazing tips and useful information.

    I agree with you all the way. Creativity is fueled by experiences, sights, sounds and smells. Sitting still wonโ€™t bring new ideas in; experimenting and trying new things will jog your creativity.

    Weโ€™ve recently published an article on this matter, please allow me to share it with you – http://www.nnc-services.com/blog/how-to-create-more-quality-content-with-the-little-time-you-have/.

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