I call it the 'Pringles effect' and it's the number one rule of blogging...
...Once you start, don’t stop.
And I broke it.
In spring, I started out with grand aspirations of creating useful, inspiring content that I thought my audience would be desperate to consume during the first lockdown. I wrote three posts about content planning, case studies and testimonials - and the engagement was poor.
I realised that people’s hearts and minds lay elsewhere. Focus turned to home schooling, furlough, and financial concerns. People were quite rightly focusing on their health, family, and the here and now; getting through one day at a time. Very few seemed to be planning for the future.
My other major problem was a lack of creativity. Dwindling creativity is not helpful when you’re a copywriter, believe me.
I gain a lot of inspiration and blog ideas from being out and about with clients, friends and networking buddies. I could be sitting in a coffee shop, travelling on a train or meeting with a client when a multitude of new ideas begin bubbling in my head. I have to keep a notebook or my phone close by!
Then there’s face-to-face networking and the abundance of energy I get from being with other people. Although I’ve continued to network online and welcomed seeing some friendly faces, I think we can all agree you don’t get the same vibe as when you're in a room that's buzzing with voices.
I was out of ideas and went into self-preservation mode. Luckily, I’ve been working quite solidly throughout the pandemic so I decided the best thing to do was to take a break from my personal blog over the summer and focus on delivering for my clients.
My god, I wish I hadn’t stopped!
When the going gets tough, your own business marketing is always the first to slide. As any blogger will tell you, starting to write again after a break is THE most difficult thing in the world. I wish I’d pushed through the barrier and carried on writing. I've written one solitary post since May.
Business as usual for client blogs
Funnily enough, my situation did not prevent me coming up with fresh and juicy ideas for client content. I think this stems from our planning meetings, which were taking place as usual. When we talk, the ideas start to come thick and fast.
Has your own creativity dipped since lockdown?
If you’ve been suffering from a lack of inspiration, follow my six tips to rekindling your creativity:
1. Make yourself a priority
Ideas will flow if you’re kind to yourself. Take a soak in the bath, go for a walk, pick up the phone and chat to a friend or colleague. To find true creativity, you have to feel a sense of freedom.
2. Don’t put pressure on yourself to come up with ideas
If the ideas aren’t flowing, walk away and do something else instead. Putting pressure on yourself to deliver is one of the worst things you can do. Instead, when you are feeling creatively productive, write more than one post and start stockpiling for future weeks and months - unlike toilet rolls, you won’t have to find cupboard space to store them!
3. Go where you usually feel creative
If it’s safe to do so, take yourself off to the places where you feel most creative. I found perspective by escaping into the garden and to the allotment. During summer, I did a lot of writing outside, being outdoors always inspires me and hearing other people in their gardens gave me comfort. Autumnal walks have been another good source of inspiration. Friends have gone to coffee shops and co-working spaces to be around other people at a safe distance.
4. Limit your time on social media
While social media can be a handy source of inspiration, I’ve found it to be quite toxic during the pandemic. From Scare Mongerers sharing fake news to Moaning Minnies and Shouty Shirlies telling us how great they/their business is for surviving lockdown - if you want to get creative you need to remove yourself from the negativity and self-promotion and focus on yourself.
5. Re-connecting with friends and colleagues
I’d like to think most people have a good support network they can call on in times of need. Mine comes in the form of a group of freelance friends who all work in a similar field to me. I’ve found that picking up the phone or video calling a friend for half an hour gives me a boost in energy and motivation. Just because you can’t meet in person it doesn’t mean you have to lose contact with them altogether.
6. Look to the future
As I made improvements in the garden and planted bulbs for next spring, I realised I was planning ahead and creating something beautiful for the future. Take this mindset and start thinking about what you can be doing now to get ahead. What questions will your clients have in future months? How can you respond to these with the content you produce?
What are your tips for rediscovering your creativity?
If you have any hints and tips of your own, I’d love to hear them, no matter how outlandish they are!
So here’s hoping this is the first of many new Comma Sense blog posts. I promise to try not to let things slip in 2021. I’ve never really had a rebellious streak, but hell, sometimes it feels pretty good to break the rules.