It’s the rainy season here in Mexico – a great time to do a lot of reading, writing and recovery – at least, that’s what I told myself when I scheduled my shoulder surgery. But I’m having trouble with my blog writing. And now I’m stuck. I’ve got Blogger’s Block. (Yes, even experienced bloggers can get stuck from time to time.)
So I pull out my bag of great blog post tricks, and determine where I’m stuck in the process. And that’s it. I had altered my writing process. But that shouldn’t matter… should it?
As I mentioned in my last blog post, Graham Wallas observed that creative solutions appear sequentially:
Preparation => Incubation => Illumination => Implementation
The same is true for writing quality content – creative blog posts are written by a process:
- Preparation (Pre-writing) – Gather information and create your plan.
- Incubation (Rest) – Allow your mind to rest and refresh before you review.
- Illumination (Revise for relevancy) – Re-read your draft, silently and out loud, and revise the content for relevancy.
- Implementation (Edit) – Re-read your revised draft, use your checklist, edit and publish.
That’s where it happened: my bloggers block. I had done the research, accumulated a lot of great information, wrote my draft, but I was bogged down in the editing. Sure, I have been having lots of resting time with my wing in a sling. But I didn’t allow myself an incubation period before revising. Turns out, that incubation period is pretty important to the creative blog writing process.
According to neuroscience researcher Alice Flaherty, “People vary in terms of their level of creative drive according to the activity of the dopamine pathways of the limbic system.
My dopamine trigger is an hour or two on the courts. Take that out of my regular routine, and my creativity level is reduced.
But a drop in dopamine isn’t the only reason I was blocked. I hadn’t allowed myself a period of distraction. When we are working a problem, we can become so fixated on the problem that we block a great solution. The distraction time allows subconscious thoughts time to become conscious.
So that was it – I had missed the distraction time from the problem, the dopamine from my tennis game, and the relaxation period when my alpha waves were rippling through my brain, allowing the insight and solution to surface.
Illumination (Revise for relevancy)
The next stage is illumination, when you revise for relevancy. Re-read your draft, silently and out loud, and revise the content for relevancy. After a trip to the gym and a nice shower, I was ready to review and revise. My block was unblocked. Here’s what I check for when reviewing for relevancy:
- The situation: A quick factual sketch of the current business situation that serves to anchor the reader.
- The complication: A problem that unsettles the situation in the story you’re telling. It’s why you’re writing the blog post.
- The question: This can be implied but may be better spelled out, as in:
a. What should we do?
b. How can we do it?
c. What’s wrong with what we’ve tried?
- The answer: Your response to the question and your solution to the complication.
The number one question readers are asking when they glance at material is this:
Why am I reading this? What’s in this for me? Why should I care?”
What about you? What tools do you use to unblock your creative writing? How do you ensure relevancy for your readers? You can contact me here.
By the way, my shoulder is doing great, and I’m looking forward to returning to the courts.