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  • What To Do When the Writing Fairies Never Come

    Maybe you run an absurdly successful business and keep an immaculate home, all while raising a pack of future astrophysicists who can also dance and sing. Perhaps you write newsletters in your sleep and eat distractions for breakfast.

    Or maybe you’re like the rest of us. Perhaps you’re a hard-working person with entirely too much on your plate and an unfortunate ratio of ambition (gobs) to time (sobs).

    If you’re in the latter camp, you might relate to the following confession: I sometimes struggle to create content. Yes, I sometimes have no idea what to write — on the blog, for the newsletter, as my Twitter status. Or I don’t have time.

    Barring a sudden infiltration of my office by writing fairies (which would be swell), this problem will probably haunt me forever. So, the question is: How can I — and you — create excellent content ANYWAY?


    Establish a Regular Schedule

    I used to struggle with what to fix for dinner — until I started meal planning. Every Sunday, I write down five meals and the necessary ingredients. Then I go shopping and stock my kitchen accordingly. I know that I’ll cook five times, do leftovers once, and splurge on takeout once. Week planned.

    I like this system because it isn’t too Planny McPlannerson. But it works. And a similar system can apply to your content creation efforts:

    • Decide how often you will blog or send an email newsletter
    • At the beginning of each content cycle, whether it’s a week or a month, choose some topics that will be useful to your audience and write them down
    • Deliver the content as planned, even if you don’t feel inspired

    Set Some Simple Goals for Each Piece of Content

    Okay, let’s say you’ve decided to write an email on an amazing new service your company offers. Answer these questions:

    • What do you want your audience to know about the service? Are there any important facts or distinguishing features?
    • How do you want to your audience to feel about you, your business, and the new service? Do you want to be seen as an expert? A warm and inviting business?
    • What do you want your audience to do? What’s your call to action?

    Once you’ve answered these questions, you have a basic recipe for your content.

    Don’t Wait for Inspiration

    Friends, if you wait for inspiration — or the writing fairies — you (and your audience) are going to be waiting for a long time. Sure, inspiration sometimes strikes, but most of the time, it’s just you and a blank screen. And that can feel pretty lonely.

    Years ago, I read something in a positive psychology book that stuck with me. It went something like this: action leads to motivation, which in turn leads to more action.


    In other words, if you pound out a draft (and maybe sleep on it), you’ll probably feel inspired to make improvements. Heck, you may even throw out the first draft and create something amazing. Then won’t you be pleased with yourself?



    32 thoughts on “What To Do When the Writing Fairies Never Come

    1. Here’s one of my “hamburger helpers”: I subscribe to a private label rights article source, and then use the PLR article as a skeleton of a new blog post/newsletter article.

      • Love the phrase “hamburger helper” in this context. Clever. :-)

      • I uase a similar aproach called ‘curation’. I look for content related to my future post subject with my *secret* content creator tool. Then select a few sources and give my personal touch.

    2. Oh goodness, so love this (especially that “gobs” and “sobs” comment). I’ve been one of those guilty folks who swear they’re going to set a schedule and am still working on that (even tho my personality is one who hates schedules!). One tip I got was to write down the tips or questions for what you do or get asked and use those as starters. I’ve got a buttload of those…now to get them on a schedule!

      Thanks for the great post.


      • Thanks, MamaRed! Great idea on the starters. Having a list like that is fabulous. Then when it’s your day to write an email or blog post, you have CHOICES. I think this is key for people who naturally resist schedules (i.e., I might not feel like writing about this today, but that sounds totally doable.).

    3. Awesome article and some great tips here!

      I am just inspired of what I just read. It’s time to make the donuts and start scheduling my photo booth (& photography) tips!

      Thanks for sharing!!!

      • Hmmm … I’m not sure how donuts are involved here, but I like it. I do some of my best thinking over a donut and coffee.

        • Mimi…. Dunkin’ Donuts commercial ;)

    4. Love all of the ideas! I used to work in TV…. so we were told to “write to the video” so that is what I do most of the time with my blog. I take pictures throughout the week and let the pictures tell my story. Well, I actually have to type it out, but you catch my drift! I also give myself three days that I like to write posts. Monday, Wednesday, Friday. Every other day give me just enough breathing room to catch my breath and come back to the blog. (Plus respond to comments.) I give myself the weekends off, which I love because I’m just too busy otherwise.

      • Sounds like a great schedule, Jillian! I love the idea of taking photos throughout the week and using them to tell a story. So cool!

    5. I have read this “Uninspired?” inspiration just after writing three bad first drafts for a new assignment. I guess the principle here is that the only bad draft is the one that doesn’t get written!
      Now I’m looking forward to revisiting my drafts tomorrow. Thanks Mimi!

      • Absolutely, Mark! A bad draft is sooooo much better than no draft. With a bad draft, you have a starting point, and even if you hate it, it’s there, waiting to be saved from mediocrity. Good luck with your revisions!

      • Customers like you rock, Debra!

    6. Thanks for the inspiration to keep going as I’m working on blog right now!

    7. I am such a big fan of your copy-writing and generosity – thanks so much. 2 laughs in 3 paragraphs is a great start to the day in the south east Pacific xxx.

      • Yolanda, reading your comment is a great end to the business day in the Midwestern U.S. :-)

    8. I agree about MamaRed! My experience is that inspiration comes when it comes and not when I need it to come. So when I have an idea, I immediately go and create a draft blog post title and a few words or a link. Then when I need something, I go through my drafts and finish one up. I also like to write about solutions or situation that come up with my clients and people find that interesting and valuable.

      • I love this idea. Rather than just have a list of potential topics, record each idea as a draft of a blog post or email newsletter. Thanks for sharing, Ellen!

    9. Oh .. Another great article, I’m new entrants, and were inspired to create their own to provide information to my readers. Hopefully the other siblings Madmimi and support. Thank you very much. I love madmimi.

    10. Prompts RULE!
      Here’s an easy way to get loads of them:
      Go to a bookstore that has a great coffee bar.
      Find several books on your area of expertise.
      Order your favorite drink, leave the barista a nice tip and sit down with the books.
      Write down the chapter titles, but DO NOT READ THE BOOKS.
      Go home and use the titles as prompts for a series of blog posts that give your readers your own ideas on each topic.

      • Ooh, I love this super-specific, super-awesome tip, Allison! You could also do this virtually using Amazon’s “Look Inside” [the book] feature. You can usually see the table of contents. Of course, that’s not really as FUN as hanging out in a great bookstore.

    11. Nice post Emma! I can relate :(

    12. Doug

      Confession, I’m someone who would like to be a blogger but I have the same problem as MamaRed, I hate schedules…I think they call that ADHD. (I digress)

      While reading through the comments and I saw Ellen Finkelstein about “inspiration comes when it comes and not when I need it to come. ” then she continues “I immediately go and create a draft blog post title”…my problem is I’m never in front of my computer when that happens. Then I thought….wait a minute…

      I have a “smart” phone. I also have the capability to “dictate” a quick email to myself, I don’t have to type.
      What if I just dictated the blog post on the spot and sent it to myself in an email. Better yet, what if I set up my blog to accept draft posts via email….Holy cow, this is developing in my head as I’m writing.

      makes-you-go-hmmm…I just might try this.

      • Great idea! I sometimes come up with my best writing ideas while out for a run. Then I have to repeat them over and over in my brain until I get home and can find a piece of paper. :-)

    13. Doug

      Oh ya…and to Emma, great piece of writing. Thank you!

    14. When inspiration strikes, I’m usually not in a position to jot it down or text it to myself. However, I have a skype account with my second phone number and voice mail. So I just whip out my cell phone, call my skype number and leave myself a voice mail. When I get home, the inspiration is there waiting for me. Of course, you don’t need skype to do this… any second phone with voice mail will do.

      • Another great idea! Thanks, Tedster!

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