In an effort to enhance help you market yourself, the Cast Iron Content team has been creating various marketing material giveaways. Last week, we launched our second content giveaway, made complicated by its rather unusual challenge. Jenna R. London created an escape route out of her own writer’s block and shared her method via a blog post. Peter Hall, owner of New England Athletic Academy, successfully cracked the code, winning similarly-styled content in support of his brand.
No matter what you do for a living, most of us have experienced a creative cramp, whether or not we call it writer’s block. Here, I interview Jenna about how she determined a formula to move forward…and figure out how to creatively market yourself.
A Writer Beats the Block
What does writer’s block look like to you?
One of the most important parts of my MFA experience, to me, was understanding that writer’s block is often nothing more than self-doubt lurking in my shadows. Now when I find myself “blocked” I try to harness creative energy whether it comes from working on a different piece, researching publications for submittal, or developing a writing exercise. I also remind myself, that sometimes the best way to deal with a “block” could be to take the dogs for a walk. The fresh air helps me clear my head and I focus on figuring out whatever was causing the block—I have learned that often the thing I least want to write about is the thing that I need to explore.
In our recent post, Navigating the Barren Tundra of Writer’s Block – 3 Ways to Find New Fertile Ground, we cite Jeff Goins’ three most common factors causing writer’s block: timing, fear, and perfectionism. Which of these resonates with your experience? Or have you more often experienced a combination of these factors?
I absolutely agree with Goins’ factors. Fear and perfectionism, though, I try to categorize as dangerous mindsets that will serve only to hold me back. Maybe whatever I write will be terrible and will receive a constant stream of rejections. But my writing will never improve, and I will never get accepted if I don’t practice and slog through rejections. Maintaining this mindset on a regular basis helps me to pull myself out of a “block” that may happen on a rough day when crippling self-doubt inevitably appears.
Timing, I look at as a more complicated entity. Many writers, myself included, do not have unlimited time to spend on writing. Instead, I have pockets of time and often feel like I have to fight for a spare hour. Therefore, I try to not even attempt starting a challenging topic unless I have several uninterrupted hours. I use the smaller chunks of time for administrative details, a freelance project or revising an existing essay that does not require as much emotional energy. By recognizing the emotional component that can be involved with writing, I feel l am setting myself up for success every work or writing session that I am able to carve out of my day.
How did you create this unique writing challenge? Give us the story.
I had committed to doing a blog post for Cast Iron Content, and I have really been enjoying the challenge of using my creative energy towards generating web and marketing content as part of my freelance venture. The phrase “market yourself” came to me fairly quickly. The additional rules developed as I brainstormed on how to make this blog post most applicable to the company’s mission statement and marketing effort. I was especially struck by the repetitiveness of the words I used.
For example, the first “R” paragraph started with the words remembering, recommending and reasoning. When I stepped back I realized how similar these words were and that there is a slew of “r” words that aren’t verbs and don’t end with -ing, for goodness sakes!
Starting with these similarities, I made an effort to start with different parts of speech and to be more aware of my word choice. Extending to four, five and six sentences only gave me the opportunity for more exploration. Because I enjoy challenges, I even took it a step further and made sure that most of the first words in each paragraph covered all vowels.
Have you noticed whether this particular writing exercise influences your other writing projects?
Absolutely. I notice more variety in my structure and style. This exercise also enables me to take pressure off myself and just write, which is often when my strongest writing occurs.
The exercise also gives me the ability to use my creative eye to create a solid product. As a small business owner as well as being the spouse of a business owner, I have firsthand everyday knowledge of how challenging it is to manage all aspects of a business. We all have our strength and weaknesses. I am thrilled to find new and unique ways to assist business owners in marketing their own unique product or service.
Can we see examples of this method at work in any of your other publications?
This is the first time that I’ve published this particular method. Developing writing prompts and exercises is a fairly newfound technique I’ve developed in the past year to keep myself on the hook and my writing fresh, post-MFA. I had just finished a collection of essays and was creatively exhausted. However, I was anxious to continue writing and “use” my MFA. These short prompts were an excellent way for me to accomplish these goals.
Readers! Do you think Jenna’s method would help you overcome your own creative roadblocks on the page and market yourself or your brand more effectively? Let us know in the comments and share your own strategies for making progress when you feel stuck…