This post is an excerpt from Content Hacks: 34 Tips and Tricks for Planning and Creating Content. If you want some tips for making content creation much less painful, download the guide here.
Take it from someone who tends to write a lot -- writing is hard. You've got to be focused, motivated, coherent, creative, concise, ruthless, and meticulous -- all at once. Just thinking about all that makes me feel some writer's block creep in, but most of us know that if we can master juggling all of those traits at once, we'll do an excellent job.
To help defend against writer's block or just general anxiety about writing so you can create quality content, it's really important to have a few tricks up your sleeves.
Some tricks can be super personal to you and your working style. For example, I tend to write best when this Songza playlist is on, but I definitely don't expect everyone to like it as well (in fact, one of the tips below advocates for listening to something quite different).
Regardless, it's helpful to hear what other people do to make writing easier on themselves so you can figure out if those tricks work for you too.
We compiled a list of hacks from some of our teammates and partners to for you to try as you please, taken from our collection, Content Hacks: 34 Tips and Tricks for Planning and Creating Content. Hopefully, they'll help you get through that pesky writer's block on days it definitely needs to stay away.
1) Always start with a working title.
"I never finalize a title before I'm done writing. Instead, I use a 'working title' -- one that's reflective of what I'm writing about, but not yet as eye-catching as it could be. Why? Because even if I create an outline before I start writing, the final product always strays at least a little bit from the original plan. Not worrying about the title until I know I can craft one that accurately reflects the finished piece allows me to stay focused on the hard part -- actually writing!"
- Shannon Johnson, Content Strategist at HubSpot
2) Combine blog posts to create an ebook.
"Writing an ebook can be intimidating, but offering long-form, premium content is an effective way of generating top-of-the-funnel leads. I like to create an outline for my ebooks, and then treat each chapter as a separate blog post. I use outsourced writing services like Zerys to commission those blogs and then edit them to create the complete ebook. Using this method, you get several weeks worth of blogs posts AND an ebook to boot! The process is simple and makes ebook creation quick and easy."
- Kathleen Booth, Owner & CEO at Quintain Marketing
(Editor's Note: You don't always have to outsource this process -- if you want to write and combine the posts into an ebook yourself, check out this guide.)
3) Listen to classical music while you write.
"Blaring your favorite Beatles, Mumford & Sons, or Jay-Z tunes while writing may seem like a good idea. After all, if you enjoy a particular artist or genre of music, it stands to reason that listening to that artist or genre while you write will put you in a good mood. But here’s what I’ve found: When I listen to music that I love while writing, I get distracted. I pay too much attention to the lyrics. I start singing along. And before I know it, I’ve stopped writing and have started dancing at my desk. With classical music, the intricate notes and movements stimulate the brain, but there are no lyrics (unless you’re listening to an opera) to interrupt or compete with your inner voice."
- Erik Devaney, Content Strategist at HubSpot
4) Guide your writing with themed blogging days.
"A great way to build on your prior blogging success and make writing an easier process is to create themed blogging days! The best way to start is to first analyze your most popular blog posts from the past and then create similar posts. Test out a few ideas by writing new posts about similar themes. For instance, if your most read post is 'The 50 Best Burgers of Detroit,' try writing the '50 Best Salads in Michigan' next. Finally, designate a day of the week for your new blogging theme and let the new ideas flow!"
- Jordan P. White, Content Creator at Inbound Marketing Agents
5) Use Wikipedia as your style guide.
"Here's a really quick but super important tip: If you're ever unsure if the name of something should be capitalized, italicized, in quotes, etc., instead of diving into a massive style guide, simply look up the phrase in Wikipedia. Then look at the title of that page. They almost always get it right. (For example, if you're not sure how to write a movie title, looking it up on Wikipedia shows you that the title should be italicized.)"
- Jay Acunzo, Senior Manager of Content at HubSpot
(Editor's Note: if you want to develop your own company style guide, click here.)
6) Create a new ebook by transcribing an old webinar.
"You can get a solid first draft of a new ebook or guide just by having your last webinar transcribed. Services like rev.com can inexpensively produce a text document from a recorded webinar, which you can then use as the starting point for your next educational download. And because the webinar presentation already has graphics, you can lay out and design the new piece more easily, too."
- Dan Stasiewski, Technology Director at Kuno Creative
7) Beat writer’s block with a beverage.
"Having trouble getting started with writing? Enjoy a nice cocktail? You're in luck. If you're suffering from writer's block, there's nothing like the confidence 2 alcoholic beverages gives you to get the words free-flowing. Just be sure to invest in a talented, sober editor. As Hemingway said, 'Write drunk, edit sober.'"
- Corey Eridon, Senior Blog Editor at HubSpot
What other tips and tricks do you have for writing? Share your favorites with us in the comments.