If you’re grinding out content on a regular basis, you’re probably working too hard.
Sure, many writers and marketers break their backs as a badge of honor.
But is worth that creeping sense of burnout and constant head fog? Is it worth losing sleep over?
Although content writers are no strangers to headaches and twelve-hour days, we’re more likely to produce our best work when we remove the weight of perfection from our shoulders and take a step back.
Metrics, “likes” and shares don’t define your worth as a writer.
“Going viral” has much less to do with talent and much more about being in the right place at the right time.
As a content writer, it’s crucial to understand that the pressure we feel from either ourselves or our clients has the potential to crush our creativity. Likewise, you’re inevitably going to crash and burn if you’re killing yourself to churn out thousands upon thousands of words of marketing mumbo jumbo with no end in sight.
Stop Scrambling for Your Next “Greatest Hit”
Think about your favorite bands (note: mine’s Weezer).
They have their greatest hits. Fan-favorites. They also have their deep cuts and b-sides.
And then they have their stinkers. Those songs that make you cringe (ugh).
Do a few bad tracks ruin a band? Does it mean that their music is trash?
We all have those lapses of creative judgment or times where our brains were on vacation, and that’s okay. You can’t force always force out a great piece.
On the flip side, sometimes our best ideas come out of thin air.
Paul McCartney claims that he penned The Beatles’ “Yesterday” in under a minute.
REM’s “Losing My Religion” was allegedly written in ten minutes.
The White Stripes’ “Seven Nation Army” spawned from a soundcheck.
Listen: there might be times when your audience throws proverbial tomatoes at your content. Editors might tell you that you totally missed the mark despite following their directions word-for-word. Your pitches will get shot down and your brilliant ideas on paper may end up falling flat.
That doesn’t mean that you’re not capable of quality content or good ideas: such roadblocks simply come with the territory of a creative field.
Be Proactive, But Know When to Say “When”
You should strive to consistently produce your best work possible, but you should also acknowledgepieces that give you trouble.
I’m not telling you to accept mediocrity or produce sub-par work. Quite the opposite, actually.
I mean, imagine the horror of an editor being told “Hey, I usually give a shit when I write for you but, meh, this next article’s going to be garbage-tier. Oh yeah, and here’s my invoice.”
You should never phone it in, especially with client work.
That being said, understand that sometimes you’re going to have an off day or the topic you’re presented with might not be the ideal fit for your skillset.
Sometimes you’ll be 1,000 words deep into an article and realize that you have no idea where to go next.
Take a step back. Go for a walk or do some push-ups. Spend some time away from the struggle.
Sometimes you’ll be presented with a topic that’s beyond your area of expertise.
Do your homework. Look at what’s already been said on the subject and offer up some fresh perspective (hint: sometimes being an outsider on a subject is a plus).
Sometimes you’ll take on an assignment that makes you want to tear your eyes out.
Breathe. Experiment with copywriting techniques. Shift your mentality and challenge yourself to turn a turd of a topic into pure gold.
Consistency is Key to Overcoming Burnout and Bad Ideas
Your greatest hits will come, but you can’t force ’em.
Ultimately, your ability to beat burnout and overcome troubling topics will only make you a better writer over time.
Because after all, you can’t afford to get stuck with writer’s block. I get it.
However, we all flirt with burnout and bad ideas from time to time. Acknowledge the temptation but keep pushing. Keep showing up.
Remember: writing is hard. So many people lack that creative spark and drive which transforms an idea into a published piece of work.
That’s why we’re valuable. Don’t forget it.
Agree? Disagree? Meh? Let me know how you really feel on Twitter (@brentwrites).