One of the most daunting challenges our small business clients face is finding the time, space, and energy to tell stories and share emotionally resonant pieces of content that boost their brand.
Phones ringing. Babies crying. Demands tugging.
When you’re in the middle of managing the day-to-day, shifting into a soulful, focused state of storytelling often requires coaxing the mind and body in heightened ways that shift your energy upward and inward.
Some of these clients are busy Moms and Dads, investing time into their businesses before the kids are awake and long after they’ve gone to sleep. Others are juggling their side-hustle, fitting in blog posts during their lunch hour or dictating ideas in the car.
And, unfortunately, others have topics and themes miles long on Post-It’s and notebooks that never see the light of day.
Lexicontent’s sole mission is to relieve the burden of creating content by helping busy business owners plan, create, and publish content that has a story to tell. (And hint hint: everyone's got one.)
But in order to do that, you’ve got to make room in your own heart to express yourself – which can feel like an uphill battle when you're in the crossfire of everything else.
Below, we’re sharing 10 tips to help you carve out a corner to create words that speak volumes:
Make room for multiple writing zones.
Julia Cameron, author of “Write to Write” and “The Artist’s Way” has several areas throughout their home, each for different writing purposes. One room, light-filled and softly decorated, for creative writing and storytelling. Another room, stately with a leather high-back office chair, purely for business and negotiation. She’s also got a sturdy wooden picnic table in her backyard with a view of the mountains of New Mexico, for dreaming and planning.
It can feel like an impossible task when you write wherever the wind blows you. And while some can bust out a blog post on a train or a podcast next to a stinky cat litter box without a problem, environment can often mean the difference between zero energy and emotional resonance in your content.
Instead of appointing one area for all of your work to happen – writing to-do’s, business plans, and blog posts – try writing in a few different areas to generate new energy and focus in your words and ideas. Sometimes the only thing you need to break up writer’s block or mental fatigue is a new view, which gives way to a new perspective on your words.
Put a timer on it.
Creating content in any form requires a tremendous amount of focus, from first draft to final edit. And while some may see it as a fluid, creative, and largely unstructured process, it can help to add in a few boundaries.
When we’ve got a lot on our plate and too much to say, we break out the Pomodoro Technique, a system for timing your work in increments in order to concentrate your energy in 25 minute bursts with 5 minute rests.
Try breaking your content planning process into an ideation session (25 minutes), an outline (25 minutes), a first draft (two 25 minute sessions), and a round of edits (25 minutes). Here's a helpful app, called the Tomato Timer, that can get you started.
Instead of a long distance run, you’ll retain and preserve your energy in short sprints, allowing yourself time to relax and reconvene in the interim. In our experience, interesting things can bubble up to the surface when we take structured breaks.
Break out the mind maps.
Mind maps are the conceptual backbone of everything we do, from ideation to content road-mapping for months and sometimes years in advance. Mind maps allow us to think about all the “what ifs” without necessarily committing to one specific avenue. It’s kind of like putting all the options on the table before stepping back to consider the best possibility in both content and context.
MindNode is our go-to tool for mind mapping, a software that’s intuitive and easy to use, and better yet, allows for easy sharing of ideas with others. If you tend to write in sync with a team or a writing partner, you’ll be able to share your thoughts easily and visually.
Rinse off the old, scrub in the new.
Excellent content is dependent on several factors: energy, mood, motivation. One of the best ways to shift your energy and refresh both mind and body throughout the storytelling process is to take a shower – really.
Throughout the course of our day, we tend to absorb the emotions and energies others give off, as well as internalizing the emotions we feel we need to express. These factors can clog the creative process, leading to a dullness that keeps content feeling stuck. It might sound a little “woo-woo” but a shower cleanses our emotional palette simply through the act of rinsing, washing, and scrubbing.
Have you ever had the best idea of your life while in the shower? There’s a reason for that. A cocktail of dopamine and distraction allows us to access the thoughts, ideas, and narratives that tend to run in the background of our minds. If you find yourself frustrated at your keyboard, take a long, relaxing shower and see what bubbles up to the surface. (And if you find that inspiration strikes, make sure that no good ideas find their way down the drain with Aqua Notes!)
Hear ASMR out.
ASMR, also known as Autonomous Sensory Meridien Response, is a relatively new discovery that has millions of people talking. I listen to a lot of ASMR in the background while I'm working away in the Lexicontent studio (Gentlewhispering and Springbok ASMR are my personal favorites).
Before you think we’re off our rockers, hear us out: ASMR evokes a physical and emotional response to an audio or visual stimulus – crinkling paper or brushing hair for instance – that allows you to enter a relaxed mental state.
Much like white noise, ASMR helps transport you when you can’t transport yourself. It’s an even more effective strategy when you apply it to the writing or blogging process, disrupting silence (or chaos) to help you focus on the task at hand.
While everyone doesn’t have the same response or triggers, it’s one of the more unconventional ways we know of to unravel and unclench our processing minds and access our idle mind, where creativity lives.
If tapping and crinkling aren’t your thing, check out some other auditory options: white or brown noise, game or movie soundtracks, instrumental music, or even noise canceling headphones.
Check out, tune in.
When you’ve put yourself on a tight deadline – to get copy written, a new product launched, or a storyboard created – it can help to change up your scenery in a big way.
In the past, writers like Maya Angelou used to book hotel rooms to get massive amounts of work done. Now, thanks to the sharing economy and companies like Airbnb, they’re able to write in a yurt, a beach house, or a sweet brownstone in the city.
Next time you’ve got your Big Hairy Audacious Goal looming, give yourself the keys (and the permission) to clear some space in a place that inspires you. Book a lakeside cabin or a highrise condo for the weekend and see what comes out on the page. Heck, even if you can’t afford luxury accommodations, get in the car, tether your phone, and make a day trip out of it.
This strategy works even better when you’ve got one project to knock out, website copy or a business plan for example, so that you’ll leave your dreamy getaway and return with it off your shoulders.
Make “do not disturb” your secret weapon.
It’s a little ironic, don’t you think? We have access to an infinite amount of information and billions of other human beings – but we also have the ability to turn it off and tune it out whenever we exercise our power to. The double edged sword of access is distraction, and the only way to quell distraction is to instill structure and boundaries.
When it comes down to writing and creating, notifications and distractions simply don’t mix. You might get a buzz or a beep, and your entire train of thought is ruined and you’re off the rails for the next 20 minutes (or more). Little ones who haven’t learned to knock, or family members who tend to need something around the clock can delay your good thinking, leading to a habit of emotional drainage.
Next time you need space to write, hang your own ‘do not disturb’ sign on the door and use the Do Not Disturb setting on your iPhone to shut it all out. Play your favorite playlist, and enjoy your little corner of the world, where your story can be told in sweet, sweet solitude. That is, until you’re ready to share it with the other 7 billion of us.
Hold yourself accountable.
Now more than ever, writers and content creators are able to access communities of people who experience the same triumphs and tribulations that they do. These communities, often found on Facebook or Instagram, allow you to find others who need a little help buddying up to make sure their plans come to fruition. Through challenges, group calls, or Twitter chats, everyone is there for the same reason: to keep themselves and their peers accountable.
Make it a sensory affair.
Did you know that a whiff of scent can give you more focus than a cup of coffee? It’s true – although we do believe you have every right to be skeptical.
Your olfactory receptors have a direct route between your nasal passages and your limbic system, also known as the part of your brain which processes and controls emotions and learning. Scents are powerful things, triggering nostalgia, fighting fatigue, or encouraging relaxation, and there are millions of scents and scent combinations out there that can work in your favor.
Lemon essential oil is one of the best scents for cleaning. Before you sit down to write, edit a video, or tackle your About page, try adding a few drops of lemon on a warm washcloth and giving your desk a wipe down. Lemon is known to help you clarify your thoughts and concentrate on your words, perfect for the content creator in you. Like lemon, grapefruit is a favorite oil of ours, which we diffuse in the studio for a bright scent that keeps us alert during marathon writing sessions.
If essential oils aren’t your cup of tea, try burning a stick of sandalwood incense, particularly moody and sophisticated with a cup of chai tea in the evening. Or, because it’s fall, break out your best three-wick candles for scents that remind you of back to school: leaves burning and pies baking.
Let it go.
Perhaps the most underutilized piece of advice we have to offer: if it’s not flowing, let it go. Forcing yourself to write and punishing yourself to create are instant content killers that keep you frustrated and stuck rather than in perpetual motion.
If creating content isn’t your thing, if you dread the idea of writing blog posts regularly or flinch at the thought of doing your own website copy, then don’t try to make it happen. Find another way of doing it that you can get excited about.
Do whatever it takes to find that sweet spot that makes your soul sing and your story shine, something you love doing and your audience loves to read, watch or listen to.
P.S. If you find that you need a little help along the way, drop us a note – we're always listening!