By Leslie Anglesey
All writers have some type of inner editor. If they didn’t, they wouldn’t have the discipline necessary to stay on track and on topic to either work for clients or focus on their own projects. At first glance, having this built-in critic might seem like a recipe for squashing creativity, but it doesn’t necessarily have to be something that will stop a writer in his or her virtual tracks.
At times, self-criticism has been blamed for the famous “writer’s block” but it may not be fair to blame getting stuck on the inner editor.
Many factors can contribute to a creative person having trouble getting into the groove of a project or having trouble getting started.
The issue may be:
- stress in another area of the writer’s life
- creative process the writer needs to go through to get a flash of inspiration hasn’t resulted in an “a-ha” moment yet
While the internal editor can’t be shut off entirely, there are ways to work with it to develop your writing. Keep in mind that it exists for a purpose, and you want to make sure that it doesn’t become so powerful that you are reticent to let anyone see your work.
Use a Diamond Shaped Model When Listening to Your Inner Editor
When you are thinking about how and when you should listen to your inner editor, consider using a diamond-shaped model to keep you on track with your writing projects. It should help you determine how to proceed.
When you are contemplating a project or thinking of making a pitch to an editor, keep your inner editor firmly in the background. This is the narrow part of the diamond shape. Don’t let it get in the way by telling you that you are wasting your time or that you aren’t good enough, so why are you bothering to apply or contact that editor. As a writer, you will get rejected, but you have no chance of getting anywhere if you never make a move toward your goals.
As you land a project and move into the broader part of the diamond shape, you want to start listening to your inner critic more. If you are ever tempted to stop digging in your research or not to go the extra mile because, “It’s probably good enough,” allow this part of your mind to poke or guilt you into giving your work that little bit of extra effort to make it the very best you can produce.
Likewise, don’t let any piece of writing leave your desk until you have taken the time to proofread and edit it carefully. This piece of advice also falls under the category of listening to your inner editor in the middle of a project, whether you are working on something for school or on a professional basis. Good enough simply isn’t good enough. Your inner editor should be on high alert at this stage of the game.
Confidence above All
As you proofread and edit your second draft, you should be able to feel a bit more confident about your work. Using the example of the diamond shape, the editor should once more start to go back toward the background, and you should be able to focus on your voice in your writing when you read the final version of your work. By the time you get to the version you are ready to turn in to your instructor or the client, the internal editor should be firmly in the background, leaving only your voice in place when you read through your work.
Will your work ever be exactly perfect as a writer? There will always be something that you “could” be doing to alter, fix, or tweak a piece of work to make it better, more interesting, or more “something.” There will have to be a point at which you may need to simply tell your inner editor that you have done your best and that it will have to be good enough. That’s all anyone can do, and you will try again with your next piece of writing, which is how writers grow and develop their craft.
What are your tricks for dealing with the inner critic?
Image: Flickr CC
Have you noticed? Big data is the new buzzword. Apparently, it’s so hot you should “make out with it,” according to Mitch Joel in his new book, CTR ALT DEL.
But if you’re like most entrepreneurs, bloggers, or small business owners, you have no clue what big data is, or how it might apply to your business.
So here is my all-access definition: “big data” is sets of information that are way too large to be accessed or analyzed on your average computer or set of servers. Think of data being fed from RFID tags globally, or all of the data in Facebook’s open graph, or earthquake sensor networks. You’re probably contributing to big data yourself, whenever you serve up an ad on your site from an ad network.
Maybe we should call it “medium data.”
Here are three ways you can use medium data to draw insights for your blog.
It’s free, and it’s getting deeper every day. If you haven’t signed up yet, here’s a quick tutorial on how to get started with Google Analytics.
At the most basic level, you can draw insights on who is visiting your blog, which content is the most popular, and where you can improve.
Once you dive deeper into the data, you can figure out whether all that time you spend on Twitter is actually driving people to your blog using Advanced Segments in Google Analytics.
Customer Surveys and Interaction
If you’re a blogger, your customer is a reader, perhaps a commenter or member of your community. Maybe they downloaded your eBook or signed up for an online course. Every time you interact with them, you have an opportunity to gather intelligence.
Whether it’s a quick one question “how did you like that book” sent in a followup email, or a more in-depth customer survey, you have the ability to pull together data to feed your future efforts.
John Jantsch said in an article a year ago, “Until a business of any size gets serious about listening to their customers, talking to their customers, and measuring every possible data and touch point, the promise of more data will only serve to distract.”
Accessing Big Data from Researchers
All of the data you use doesn’t have to come from your own blog site or customers. There are myriad free or inexpensive resources out there that can help you build business insights on your subject area.
Organizations like Edison Research, Gartner, and The Social Habit routinely produce scientifically valid research based on a much wider data set that you can access on your own. Find a research outlet that covers your industry or topic, and leverage their reports to come up with blog post ideas, watch for future trends, and increase your own utility to your audience.
Are you using data (small, medium, or big) to draw insights for your blog?
Image: Flickr CC
By James Ellis
A website can be and do just about anything. It can be a brochure, a greeting card, a catalog, a conversation space, an announcement, a research tool, a library, a photo gallery, a way to spark ideas, build connections, engage people and speak about your corner of the world.
But it can’t really do all those things (unless you are Google or maybe Facebook, in which case, “hi!”). It can do one or two of those things well. It can do three or four of those things well with an exponential increase in resources, but that’s it.
So instead of spending millions on a legion of developers, creative directors, content managers and the staff to populate their respective armies, maybe you should focus your intention down to one thing.
What is your website supposed to be or do? Boil it down to a phrase a five-year-old could understand.
Amazon was a bookstore. Now it is an everything store. Google is a search engine. Those are easy, mostly because they have smart marketers and leadership who knows that you need to excel at one thing before you expand to something else.
But what about the website for your favorite coffee shop? It could be a brochure: hours and location with a pic of a cute barista. It could be a branding peice: pictures and animations that are warm and inviting about the idea of coffee and scones. It could be a business development peice: Get you excited about the idea of hand-roasted select gourmet coffee and how it will make your life better. It could be a store: place your coffee order and schedule a pick-up time or delivery. It could be a research tool: Everything you could want to know about coffee from different regions of the world, how it should be roasted, what the types of roasting levels mean and how they affect taste.
One coffee shop, four intentions. Each intention shapes the nature of the website, who uses it and why. Intention therefore determines the site’s success
For example, will more people come to your coffee shop because they know more about all the different coffee varieties? If your goal is to sell more coffee, then maybe that intention doesn’t align with that objective. If you spend 3,000 words talking about thirty different coffee varieties, and you only sell two, what was the good in that? You may have just gotten them excited to go to another coffee shop.
Nailing down the intention of your site, especially in relation to your total marketing strategy and your business strategy, increases your likelihood of success. Now I’m going to go drink some coffee.keep looking »