I'm sick and tired of writing about my “umbrella-ella-ella-eh-eh-eh topic,” so what do I do now?
Writing about writing is HARD, y’all.
I first got run over by this struggle bus when I started Okay, Okapi. (In all fairness, my fairy godmother, Imposter Syndrome, waved her stupid twinkly wand: Who the hell am I to write about writing? What can I possibly tell people that isn’t new? And why the fuck would they listen to me?)
I managed to get off the struggle bus for a while, even though my fairy godmother bought me a one-way ticket to Hate Your Life Town and even though sometimes I still had to push that ten-ton jalopy through neck-deep mud.
And then, out of nowhere, I was rooted to my seat on the struggle bus. Sure as shit, my ass had grown roots seemingly overnight or become some sort of industrial-strength super glue, and I could not peel my ass cheeks from that cheap plastic (unsafe – where’s the freakin’ seatbelts?!) seat.
I was just sitting there, staring straight ahead at the barren landscape of my mind (okay, not entirely barren – it’s filled with random made-up songs and useless trivia that I use to clean up in Jeopardy! Although…I’m pretty sure I’d never pass the contestant test since my tolerance for idiocy and small talk is low…), wondering how I was going to keep churning out consistent content.
I felt like I had run out of things to say. Which is ridiculous because there’s always something to say. I even have a blog post about where to get ideas for this exact reason.
And yet…I was dumbfounded. Flabbergasted. Flummoxed. (I feel like I used that word recently. Not sure where, but let’s keep it, shall we, because it’s a fun word.)
Do you ever feel this way? Not about writing about writing, but about writing about your thing, your business.
I’d like to make this a true Daily Double because a lot of us business owners have trouble shrugging off our expert cloak. (Something to do with imposter syndrome? Perhaps.) Which makes it really hard to put ourselves in our client’s well-loved cross trainers. We can’t imagine what they’re struggling with because we haven’t been in that confused, lost, frustrated, overwhelmed space in eons. And some of us grow bored talking about the same thing day in and day freakin’ out.
Talk about a bad case of SSDD. That would be Same Shit, Different Day.
If you’ve recently self-diagnosed (because, let’s be honest, who needs a “real” doctor when we’ve got Dr. Google and WebMD and all the internet doctors) a terminal case of SSDD and you’re looking for the antidote, here are a few things you can try to drastically improve your chances of surviving your diagnosis.
Give yourself permission to talk about something else.
The first thing I’m gonna need you to do is give yourself permission to talk about something else. Sure, sure, it’s helpful if you can tie your different topic into your what we’ll call “umbrella-ella-ella-eh-eh-eh” topic. But the point is to give yourself a break from the subject that’s turning your brain into baby food.
Maybe you open your blog up to a few different categories. (You may – or may not, I don’t know – have noticed that I categorize my blog posts into Writing, Editing, and Business. Soon, there will be more categories. Because I’ve got a bad case of SSDD, and the only cure is SOMETHING ELSE.) Or maybe you write about something that’s been bugging you about your industry when you usually write step-by-step, encouraging, positive, uplifting posts meant to enrich and expand your readers’ lives.
(How Pollyanna of you.)
Just look at this as an opportunity to expand your horizons. You never know what you’ll stumble upon and how it might fit into your business.
Tell a story.
Everyone loves a good story. I mean, you’ve noticed how they force contestants to tell stories on Jeopardy!, right? Usually stories that are slightly embarrassing and make them look like less intelligent people. (I have theories about this, conspiracy theories. Ask me…) But people eat that shit up!
Stories are relatable. Stories are easy to listen to. Stories are an opportunity to connect.
So, by all means, share a story. Something that happened to you. Something you did. Something you experienced. Something from last week. Something from eight years ago.
Here’s the caveat: Your story’s gotta have a lesson, a takeaway, a moral (like Aesop’s fables), for your reader.
Otherwise…well, you kinda look like a self-serving asshat. (This goes without saying, but I say that with soooo much love.)
Your goal with a story is always, always, always to relate it back to the reader. Make that story worth their time. Because, unless they know you and love you and are your immediate family, they might not really care that you went to the grocery store this morning and happily discovered that Macintosh apples were on sale ($3 for a 5-pound bag, holy shit!) and proceeded to buy 15 pounds so you could make that stewed apple recipe you pinned about three years ago but never got around to making.
But they will care if you share that recipe. Or why they should go to the grocery store on a certain day. Or make a list when they go to the store. Or make going to the store and meal prepping a priority.
Give them something for their time, and they’ll remember that.
Use it as an opportunity to sell.
We could all be selling more, yeah? I know I could be.
So why not take advantage of a little writing/brain functioning slump to sell? You’ve already got a sales page (maybe a few iterations of it…), you’ve already got an offer, you just need to talk about it.
You could repurpose some of that sales page, maybe expand on what your client is going through before she works with you or answer some frequently asked questions about your offer. You could talk about specific components of your offer, like why it’s so important to have a one-on-one call with your clients. Maybe you share a little more about the why and the how behind your services. Or you write a case study or a client success story. You could even brag with some testimonials.
The idea is to think about what you’ve got on offer and just talk about it a little bit more. You don’t have to make it into a sales page – just think of it as more information for your client to make an informed decision while giving your weary brain a chance to think. (I think that’s what the commercial breaks in Jeopardy! are for anyway.)
If you’ve got a soft spot for leaving colorful reviews on Amazon (or just binge reading them like they’re the latest, greatest YA trilogy), why not blow that up to a larger scale?
Maybe you use something that your readers might be interested in? Something that might make their lives easier. Something that you think they’d love. Something you recommend and rave about to anyone within a 20-foot radius who dares to make eye contact with you.
Tell them about it! (Also an excellent way to make some affiliates sales, if you’re into that kind of thing. 🤷♀️)
Make it thoughtful, make it thorough, make it a convincing example of why you know your stuff and they should trust you. Who doesn’t love an expert recommendation, after all?
Share an opinion.
Okay, you could argue that this falls into the above category. But I, of course, would argue that it does NOT.
I don’t doubt you have an opinion about that product or book or podcast or retreat or app or appliance you’re recommending.
And I don’t doubt that you regularly hint at your opinions in your writing.
But I doubt that you regularly take a real stand – like both feet squarely on the other side of the squiggly line in the sand or dirt from just about everyone else, aside from the unpopular kids who have made their home on other side.
Is there something that really truly pisses you off about your industry? A popular opinion or some accepted “truth” that you vehemently (not to be confused with vomit-ly) disagree with? A message that you think is more harmful than helpful? Do you have a different way of looking at something? A different take? A different mindset?
Let’s hear it.
Seriously, clear your throat, speak up, and voice your opinion. Doesn’t matter if it’s an unpopular opinion. (Besides, there will always be someone who agrees with you, even if they don’t scream their assent and instead just become all SWF, admiring you from afar, reading every word you write, liking every post you post…) Just as long as it’s an opinion.
Remember: It’s okay to write about different things. Especially when writing is a struggle to begin with. Instead of asking your fairy godmother to bestow upon you a perfectly outlined content creation plan for the next 48 months, give yourself room and flexibility to stray from the path a little bit. That way, writing might just not be so damn stressful all the time.