I’m reading Amy Poehler’s book right now.
I belong to a book club in Pittsburgh. When I’m in town, I try to attend. At first, I had ambitious goals of reading each month’s selection whether I could attend or not. However, as life and business have become increasingly busier, I’ve developed a very bad habit of only reading the books that interest me. When this month’s selection was announced, I thought to myself “Yes, Please.”
While I expected the book to be entertaining (it is), I didn’t realize how much it would resonate with me. Especially when she talks about writing.
You see, in the preface of Yes Please, Poehler discusses how she struggled to write the book in the midst of her chaotic schedule filled with work and home responsibilities. She said, “Honestly, I have moments when I don’t even care if anyone reads this book. I just want to finish it.”
She continued, discussing the glamorization of the writing process:
“Everyone lies about writing. They lie about how easy it is or how hard it was. They perpetuate a romantic idea that writing is some beautiful experience that takes place in an architectural room filled with leather novels and chai tea. They talk about their “morning ritual” and how they “dress for writing” and the cabin in Big Sur where they go to “be alone”-- blah blah blah. No one tells the truth about writing a book. Authors pretend their stories were always shiny and perfect and just waiting to be written. The truth is, writing is this: hard and boring and occasionally great but usually not. Even I have lied about writing. I have told people that writing this book has been like brushing away dirt from a fossil. What a load of shit. It has been like hacking away at a freezer with a screwdriver.”
I like her.
Poehler, a self-described lifelong writer of stories, plays, sketches, scripts, poems and jokes has plenty of experience with crafting the written word. So, it might be surprising that she would describe her experience writing a book as such a grueling process. Or, is it?
Today’s marketing strategies are dependent on content, content, content and more content.
We write blog post after blog post, eBook after eBook. We newsjack. As content or inbound marketers, we too are guilty of glamorizing the writing process. We Instagram pictures of our laptops and a fresh cup of coffee. We sway along to Indie music stations on Spotify in Hipster coffee houses in pursuit of the perfect creative vibe to ignite action in the B2B pipeline.
Poehler’s preface got me thinking about B2B blog writing. Here are a few truths based on my experience writing blogs and other marketing content, inspired by “Yes Please.”
#1: There isn’t a magical environment to write great content.
Music, tea and other rituals may help you get in the zone, but there is no perfect setting to do great writing. In fact, I think that convincing ourselves of this is an opportunity to make excuses for not shipping. I feel strongly that writing great B2B marketing content comes from practice and a deep understanding of the buyer.
#2: Sometimes writing is hard, other times it is easy.
There are those moments where inspiration hits and the words just flow right from my fingertips onto the screen. There also times where I feel like pounding my fists on the desk and screaming “I just want to finish this blog!” at the top of my lungs. I love to write. Sometimes it is easy, sometimes it isn’t. It’s important to remember that writing is a process. Don’t get discouraged by the low moments where every sentence seems like a chore.
#3: Finished is better than perfect, every single time.
My personal opinion is that the “perfect” blog post is elusive. There is always a critique, something that could have made it better. Perfect is not the point, though. The objective in blog writing is to “help” the buyer, by providing some sort of education. Spending too much time focused on creating “perfect” content delays the process of getting is published, which is the most important thing.
#4: Inspiration is everywhere, when you are open to it.
When inspiration strikes, you are wise to capture it. Maybe you are in the shower, on the subway, in yoga class. Creative ideas can happen anywhere, but they can dissolve as quickly as they came about. I’m not a big fan of letting good ideas slip through my fingers. When I come up with a thought or idea for a piece of content, I make a note in the notes app on my iPhone, Evernote or create a quick Rev recording. Even if you only have time to capture a few words or a sentence, this can save you time and frustration later (and might even lead to one of your best blog posts).
#5: Quality matters, now more than ever.
The overall theme of the blog writing truths that I’ve shared so far is basically “buckle down, get it done.” I want to be clear that even though I don’t suggest that you strive for perfection, quality is still very important. High quality content is currency. It isn’t enough to ramble on about a topic, inserting as many keywords as you can. Instead, you need to share something that matters to your buyers. It has to be helpful, interesting and credible.
So, the bad news is that no one has invented a magic wand for B2B blog writing (c’mon Hubspot, where are you when we need you…), but the good news is that with effort and commitment you can write amazingly helpful blog posts that prompt your buyers to take the next step in their journey.
What are your truths about blog writing? Share your comments below.