There are few who are bigger proponents of a content calendar than me. After 18 years of professional writing, I know that content calendars work. They serve as a map for a content marketing strategy and help alleviate writer’s block since you always know what is the next topic and title. However, there is a time to toss it aside and say, “Screw the content calendar.”
Writer’s Block or Writer’s Constipation
When you are knee deep in creativity, there are times that writer’s block isn’t even writer’s block. It’s more like writer’s constipation – the backlog of too many ideas you want to pursue preventing you from getting any one idea out. It’s all in there, creating angst and frustration because you simply want to do too much.
There are other times when you simply feel like you are being constrained creatively with assignments. Most of us became writers and started blogs because it fulfills a creative outlet. There are times when you are looking at a content calendar, for your own website, and start to think of it less as creativity and more of a job.
The Blog Job is Good, Sometimes
In the same sense that I believe a content calendar is great, I also believe developing a blog should be treated as a business. This means that it is a job, even if it is a part-time gig. At the same time, when developing content, sometimes you need to deviate from the path in order to get this creative constipation out.
What the heck am I talking about?
Lately, on top of all my regular clients that deal mainly with insurance and boring tax planning, I’ve been neck-high in creating pillars for my own sites. After starting the blogs in January and creating a ton of overall general content, I’ve been able to see sites starting to rank for more than 25 keywords. This is great and I want to capitalize on it.
That means my business owner hat gets put on and I start to develop the marketing strategy in the same way as I would for a client. Topics, sub-topics, keywords… it all becomes just another job. Anyone who has written thousands of words a day for months on end (years in my case) knows that this is exhausting mental work. If you don’t find a way to keep the energy and creative juices flowing, you feel drained, a bit burnt out, and frustrated that all of the great ideas bouncing in your head keep hitting the sides and giving you a headache.
The Solution: Screw It
My ability to produce a lot of content on a regular basis has to do with my diligence in sticking with routines. I know my schedule and I know what should be produced by the end of any one period of time. That allows me to track productivity in the sense that it allows me to know when I’m really humming along and when I’m slowing down.
By knowing my patterns, I know that if I’m not producing an average of 500 words per 30 minutes on topics, I’m tired or in a mental fog.
This is where blogging at its core comes in. Most blogs start as more of a journal and whimsical thought log. Knowing that, you throw the content calendar out the window for a day or two and just write. Of course, I need to still keep my client schedules going, but remember that slowing down means I’m taking longer to get their work done too.
Hydro Cleaning the Creative Pipes
Plumbers use hydro cleaning to essentially powerwash the pipes from the house to the street. It’s not something you do frequently but if things start to slow down, this can prevent bigger problems from occurring. Creative hydro cleaning for me starts with just writing to write.
Consider the past few weeks for me. My pipes have slowed to 250 words per 30 minutes, meaning my days are longer and I just can’t get caught up. I’m still producing, thus water is still flowing but I need to fix this to prevent long-term issues.
I take a few days off of major projects and let some trusted clients know that I need a little extra time. Fortunately, I have long-standing relationships with these people so they are amendable. Then I halt on the pillar content I am supposed to write for my blog job. Sure I knew what to write and even had ideas about the content. But, it wasn’t happening.
I sat down and just wrote about stuff I wanted to. Things on my mind pertinent to my blog niche but not directly tied to a pillar or any specific idea on my calendar.
It felt great!
Getting Back to Normal
The great thing about a little self-love and a good blast of personal creativity is your mind settles down. I mean it really settles down. After doing it, I could look at the overwhelming whiteboard and focus one task at a time.
This isn’t the end of the work to re-invigorate the blog job creativity. And yes, the blog job does get my juices going in a different way. The thing about it, when it feels like work, sometimes you just need a day to say screw it.