Five tips for finding your writing mojo

We’ve all been there before: Under an impossibly-tight deadline, in front of a blank page, hypnotized by the unrelenting blinking cursor staring back at you. You’re desperate for inspiration to hit and the words to start flowing, yet the harder you try to force it, the more frustrated you become, thus perpetuating the vicious cycle otherwise known as “writer’s block.”

It’s no secret that some of the best writing comes from having the ability to let your mind wander to more creative places…but when you don’t have the luxury of time during a busy work day, what’s a pressed PR person to do?

First, know there are no shortcuts or surefire routes to producing good copy; it will take a bit of time, effort and good old-fashioned concentration (something that can be tougher and tougher to come by in today’s age of 140-character attention spans!). But on the flip side, also know that it is possible to regain your writing groove, regardless of any momentary lapse in ability.

Here are five of my favorite tips for unblocking the writer within:

Move. I’m not talking about the pack-up-your-house kind, but the need for a change in location if you feel “stuck” in one spot. Whether it’s across the room, out of the office or through town to your favorite coffee shop, a fresh perspective and some new scenery can work wonders.

Unplug. I know, I know; this might as well be a four-letter word in PR. But try turning off your phone, waiting to respond to email and closing down other distractions on your desktop – just for a bit. I promise you’ll be amazed by how much you can accomplish in a short amount of time without constantly trying to multitask.

Condition. Much like Pavlov’s dog, we can often train ourselves by pairing one stimulus with another. Have a spot in which you’ve been super productive before? Save it for when you need to get important work done, and eventually you’ll associate being there with tackling even the most complex projects with abandon.

Listen. Some people need silence to get work done, while others need to drown out the thoughts bouncing around in their heads. Whether it’s to the silence of an empty room, the ebb and flow of instrumental music or the energy of top 40 tunes, go with whichever noise strategy works for you. I happen to prefer classic rock and 90’s hits at a low volume for background noise, for example – so keep turning that dial until you hit on something that strikes a chord.

Experiment. Everyone’s writing process is different. If something isn’t working for you, don’t force a round peg into a square hole; instead, try another approach. And if that doesn’t work, try something else until you eventually stumble upon something that does work for you. But whatever you do, don’t stop investigating new avenues to unleash your inner creativity.

Have any other tips to share? We’d love to hear them in the comments below.

Persuasive Picks for week of 6/4/12

Go ahead and throw out everything you used to know about SEO, such as link building, keyword-rich content, internal links, and tracking results on SERPs. It’s time to start over. MarketingProfs‘ Aaron Dunn writes that in a little over a year, Google has rendered 10 years of SEO dogma mostly useless in The New Google Search: Six Changes That Rocked the SEO World.

Everyone knows Pinterest is one of the fastest growing sites of all time, shooting up to No. 3 among social networking sites in less than two years. Bonnie Kintzer, CEO, Women’s Marketing Inc. and iMediaConnection contributor, explains that it’s also the first design-focused site to reach mainstream working women with children in large numbers – the sweet spot of many brands and retailers in 7 reasons why Pinterest is unique for marketers.

You’re a small business with very limited resources (time, money, and employees), so how on earth can you incorporate a social media strategy into what you’re already doing – especially when there are so many avenues out there to cover? Liana Evans provides some helpful tips to get the most out of Social Media on a Small Business Budget on ClickZ.

Social Media Marketing success is based almost entirely on how well you engage your customers. James Meyer would like to qualify that by “almost” reasoning that if your efforts are not supporting a quality brand, product or service, you could do most everything perfectly and still not get great results. On SocialMediaToday he provides a number of great tools that create visibility and allow you to monitor your effectiveness in Measuring Engagement Levels in Social Media

Persuasive Picks for week of 5/14/12

Social media breaks the mold of traditional marketing where you measured success against a balance sheet. Forbes contributor Todd Wilms explains Why Social Media is the Ultimate “Pay-it-Forward” for Marketing and provides steps to get you started.

In today’s business world, it is impossible to compete without a strong web presence to support you. Author Steve Nicholls offers 10 Essential Social Media Tips for Senior Executives in order to effectively implement social media into their businesses via IndustryWeek.

Measuring the return on investment of your social media strategy is something that still frustrates a lot of brands and marketers. Shea Bennett posts Is Social Media ROI A Reality (Or A Myth)? [INFOGRAPHIC] that takes a closer look at how we are slowly but surely getting to the ROI of social media. via AllTwitter.

Social media platforms are crucial to building customer engagement, but the vast majority of marketers haven’t incorporated that reality into their daily workflow. Marketing consultant Ernan Roman writes that Failure to Engage with Social Media Will Reduce Revenue and Increase Risk on The Huffington Post.

What’s behind our urge to share on social media?

Most of us take Facebook at, well, “face” value – a social network that “connects people with friends and others who work, study and live around them,” as the site itself says. But peel back the façade of friends, likes, photos, apps and more, and you’re left with an extensive data set on human social behavior that intrigues scientists and psychologists alike.

From CNN’s first-of-its-kind list of “The 12 most annoying types of Facebookers” to AllFacebook’s more recent post on “7 Facebook Personalities to Avoid” and even Vanity Fair’s take on “The Six Most Common Personality Types on Facebook,”  it’s clear that we’re fascinated by the fact that human interaction has migrated online, and that it’s able to be observed so easily within the Facebook microcosm.

Consider this: Each month, more than 845 million people record and share intimate details of their daily lives, relationships and online activity through their friend connections, messages, photos, check-ins, and clicks. Couple that with predictions that the number of active Facebook users will reach 1 billion in 2012, and you can’t help but ponder the common thread that unites approximately one-seventh of the entire world population, inspiring them to share so freely and publicly.

Well, according to several Harvard University psychologists, there’s a definitive reason behind why we like to reveal our thoughts, views and opinions to friends, near and far. The research, which was recently published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of the Sciences by Diana Tamir and Jason Mitchell of Harvard’s Department of Psychology, even went as far as to claim that humans devote a surprising 30–40 percent of speech output solely to informing others of their own subjective experiences.

Why, exactly, are we compelled to do so? The act of disclosing this information about ourselves actually triggers the same pleasure centers in the brain that are activated by fundamental rewards such as food and sex, according to the study. Throughout the course of their experiments, the pair even found that some of the participants were willing to forgo money in place of disclosing information about their personal experiences!

Tie this back to us and our use of social media – and Facebook, in particular – as PR professionals and marketers, and we can get a much better idea of how to use these tools to connect with (versus broadcast at) target audiences, encouraging them to raise their voice and join in the conversation. And the more we practice this golden rule of social networking – keeping it about “them” not “us” – the more mutual success and satisfaction we’ll find in these relationships, both online and off.

How do you feel about sharing online, and do you have any particular best practices to share regarding personal/professional content? We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.