When Writing Feels Wrong Solutions to writer’s block
When I began blogging five years ago, I had an endless list of topics to write about. I needed to promote my consulting work; blogging was a cost-effective way to show my expertise and sharpen my skills at the same time. It was a conduit to networking. It even led to new business.
Then, in spring 2017, I developed writers block. It lasted for a long, long time – almost two years. I felt jaded by the endless expert opinions and the pressure to constantly self-promote online. And while I continued to write for my clients – churning out site content, editing biographies and updating websites – publishing anything for my own blog became increasingly difficult.
I broke the pattern, though, with the help of a poignant realization, a few activities and some sage advice.
The good advice
A fellow consultant casually said:
“Blogging is a commitment. It’s sort of like Botox – once you start, it’s hard to stop because the image and the expectation have been created.”
When I heard this, I laughed. And then I cringed, because the metaphor is true (and no, I don’t use Botox).
There doesn’t seem to be much appetite for creative writing in the professional services webscape. Sure, there are some personal stories of leaders who made career shifts, struggles with law firm culture and the odd winning formula for the management challenge du jour. But a lot of the writing is painfully dull and formulaic.
So I shifted my focus. I took two creative writing courses – one to overcome obstacles in getting words from my brain to my laptop, and the other to experiment with non-fiction: essays, memoirs, poetry and other genres. Both courses began with a healthy discussion of the difference between a writing “persona” and a personal perspective. The lesson? Your writing doesn’t define you – you define your writing, by matching the tone and voice to the purpose of your words and the intended audience.
Writing from the perspective of a persona creates nuance in your professional brand and space between you and your readers. For example, you might be somewhat soft spoken or quiet in a crowd, but your writing persona could be perceived as clear, spare and strong. Or, you might have an aggressive, direct style in negotiations, but a more nuanced persona in your writing, depending on the topic.
After all my attempts to wrestle writer’s block into submission, was this: I am more than the sum of my words and the number of people who read them. I write because I have something to say. I’m not going to win a Pulitzer; I am okay with this.
If you want to build your professional reputation through blogging or publishing articles, don’t waste time worrying about every Twitter comment, self-proclaimed expert and prolific postulator. Concentrate on your craft. Mix it up. If it matters to you, it matters. You’ll accomplish what you set out to do, which, very likely, is to communicate why your words are important and, in turn, why your expertise is too.