How Content Writing Ruined my Creativity and What I did to Get it Back
15 years ago, I could write essays, creative short stories, poems as easily as reading a book. I had so much to express and emotions were so strong that I never had a problem writing my heart out. Fast forward to my first job as an SEO content writer and I took the first step in ruining my creative writing skills. Surprised? Think I’m taking it the other way round? Nope. Here’s my story — or rather the story of my writing.
Three years ago, I had to write a short story on pen and paper for my Literature class. I sat there for hours before I could have even come up with a story idea. And once I did come up with the idea, I didn’t know what to write. I kept thinking, ‘I was good at this, why can’t I write!’… back then, I even received certifications and medals for the best essay and best story in school and in college. Whatever happened now? Over the months I had to take two types of writing in parallel — creative writing for my Literature assignments and professional writing that paid my bills. I could easily churn out a 500 word content in an hour, but a literary essay took me 2 days to get done. What did I get wrong? Here’s what I discovered.
Typing Ruined my Manual Writing Skills
My short stories and poems were always written on pen and paper. And though I always had a hunch that typing was responsible for my diminishing writing skill, it wasn’t until I read this report by CNN that convinced me I was right; my typing was killing my writing skills. I type on average at 75-80wpm and on the good days it’s up to 90 wpm. Now that’s pretty fast right? But when it came to writing 250 words on pencil/paper, it took me 2 hours and countless times of rubbing and re-writing to get the words out. .
SEO Content Writing Turned me into an Automated Content Generator
My job demanded that I wrote five articles a day and of course I had to be fast doing it. But I wasn’t necessarily thinking it through as I was typing. All I produced was filler content for the sake of keyword and website rankings. I’d be lying if I wasn’t proud of what I was able to accomplish at the time. I could churn five well-researched, original and high quality content that had most of my clients applauding in glee. I met deadlines and I was available for revisions if any. But deep down, I knew what I was writing was not good enough to term me as a, ‘writer.’ I was writing soul-less, essence-less content and with each passing day, my creativity went down the drain.
I flinched every time someone called me a writer and so I found myself a new term, ‘content producer or content developer.’ I found it an abomination to actual writers who put in sweat and blood into their works. While my friends lauded over my articles, I kept up with the self-sabotage.
Literature Changed my Life
So, back to the literature class assignment. The two years I spent studying literature and forcing myself to write creative essays and assignments, I managed to recover a bit of my former glory. Sure the first few months were hell, but gradually I got the hang of it. I knew that when it comes to creative writing, it wasn’t about vocabulary or sub-headings but about expression and emotions. I began writing pages upon pages analyzing each of Shakespeare’s characters. I began writing essays on literary theory and movements and boy did I enjoy them! I’d spend the day writing content and the evenings writing literature. The whole time wondering how different the two processes were, and how I was able to change myself to meet their needs.
My Focus on Creative Writing Improved My Content Writing
I also noticed how my creativity with literature was seeping into the content I was writing for clients. I began using literary quotes and expressions to convey meaning and I tried to add a little life in what I wrote. I no longer worried myself with choosing vocabulary, neither did I worry about what people thought of my writing. I simply focused on writing what I felt. I changed the dead, professional tone into a funny, conversational tone. I reduced jargon and replaced it with more meaningful statements. I turned a boring article to an interesting read by adding experiences and case-studies. I began using the first person with no fear of retribution. My content finally felt real.
I Took on Tech Journalism
Lucky for me, I got the opportunity to work as a tech journalist for one of the nation’s leading English paper. This enabled a merger of creative writing with professional writing. With this gig, I was finally able to create works I was proud of.
Don’t Create Content that the World No Longer Needs
The internet is over-flowing with filler content. Don’t be another one to write senseless content. I understand sometimes, we, ‘content producers,’ are restricted by client demands, but they don’t hold the limit to our creativity. Our subheadings don’t have to be boring descriptions, but rather chapters to a story. Our paragraphs don’t have to be repetitive information, but rather scenarios beautifully depicted. Lastly, our content needs to be as creative as our poems for our readers to read and feel.
Let’s give the world content that can make them think and feel again.