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Leveraging Free Writing to Solve Content Marketing Block

Had an outstanding conversation with Mark Levy yesterday (who among other things is author of Accidental Genius).

Free WritingMark gave me a crash course in something called free writing.  Free writing, also called stream-of-consciousness writing, is a writing technique where you write for a set period of time without regard for spelling or even topic. Mark uses this technique with his clients to unearth the raw content at the heart of the content creator.

From my quick conversation with Mark and a bit of reading on it, free writing is a staple of creative writing programs around the world.  According to Natalie Goldberg, the rules of free writing include:

  • Give yourself a time limit. Write for a set period and then stop.
  • Keep your hand moving until the time is up. Do not pause to stare into space or to read what you’ve written. Write quickly but not in a hurry.
  • Pay no attention to grammar, spelling, punctuation, neatness, or style. Nobody else needs to read what you produce.
  • If you get off the topic or run out of ideas, keep writing anyway. If necessary, write nonsense or whatever comes into your head, or simply scribble: anything to keep the hand moving.
  • If you feel bored or uncomfortable as you’re writing, ask yourself what’s bothering you and write about that.
  • When the time is up, look over what you’ve written, and mark passages that contain ideas or phrases that might be worth keeping or elaborating on in a subsequent free-writing session.

I took my first stab at free writing, a five-minute period where I first thought about the idea of integrating content into the marketing process.  Here is my cleaned-up version:

  • Problems with integrating content into marketing plan
  • How to measure content marketing as part of the overall marketing plan?
  • How do I integrate social media as part of the marketing plan?
  • What tactics work the best depending on the buying cycle?
  • What internal resources are needed to content marketing effectiveness?
  • How do I tie in listening through social media with new content topics?
  • What department should oversee the content process?
  • How to I get the sales team to help us develop content?
  • How much freedom should employees have to be content spokespeople for our brands?
  • When should I outsource versus insource content marketing?  Is there an assessment?
  • What’s the difference between outsourcing $25 dollar articles and $500 dollar articles?  Is there a difference?
  • How do I educate my CMO on the benefits of content marketing?
  • What if our CMO wants to sell too much in our content?
  • Should we start a blog?
  • How active do we need to participate on other sites?
  • Do we participate on our competitors’ content sites?
  • What about content curation?
  • When do we decide whether to develop the content ourselves or curate the content?
  • How do I communicate what we are doing with our content across the enterprise?
  • Is there a worksheet that will help me construct my content marketing plan?
  • Is print still relevant in content marketing?
  • What’s the minimum amount I need to segment my customers regarding content?
  • Do I need buyer personas?  For all my buyers?

What I have as a result of this exercise is more than 20 possible blog articles for the near future. I’m sure I didn’t do it perfectly, but it was a great start.

So, the next time you get content marketing block or writer’s block, you could try this free writing exercise. This could also be used for people who aren’t content creators, but you need to find out customer challenges as a core of your content marketing plan.  You could use this exercise with customer service, sales, engineering or any other customer-facing staffer.

Thanks Mark!

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