Why Your Struggle To Create is Solved By Combining Listicles and Stories
It was an all too familiar moment. My hands hovered above the keyboard waiting for that lightning bolt of inspiration to hit. That moment when I would start typing, typing, typing, and like magic 800 words would magically appear. A perfect post. One that only requires minimal editing.
Unfortunately, those lightning bolts occurred far and few between. The reality was several started and unfinished posts. Sometimes only titles, sometimes well over 800 words, but of pure garbage without a relevant point.
The struggle truly is real. How does someone create content, week in and out, and continuously provide significant impact? And with the additional struggle of writing for my blog weekly and writing the gems that would be good enough to pitch, and hopefully, be accepted by the bigger publications. The ones with competition. And no one really knows how fierce the competition is, but being accepted is less than us writers hope it to be.
1. Create a Listicle
Over the last couple of years, the trend has moved from the standard blog post to the “listicle”. The list that gives tips, tricks, things to avoid, and things not to be. For most people the challenge is creating a list of tips that can be used to address a problem. Sometimes the number comes first, and other times the list develops with the story.
Don’t be stuck on the list at the beginning, use it as a starting point for the post.
Play around with the content. When I first began writing I would write an entire blog post, give it a title and be done. Now I do that, create a listicle sounding name and edit the content to better address the “new and improved” title.
Do your best to give it a catchy title, perhaps something controversial, or at a minimum one that when you put it in a search engine has less than one million hits. It gives you more opportunity to have more traffic delivered to your site, or now to your LinkedIn profile if that’s where you choose to publish.
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2. Keep the Number of Points Odd
As a sales rep, I would also give my clients 3, 5, or 7 reasons they should do business with me as opposed to staying with the status quo. There is something psychological about odd numbers that pulls the audience in. There was something memorable about it, and I don’t need them to remember all the items in the list, just the single point that stood out specifically to the individual.
3. Simplicity is the Key
Always do some edits to your content before publishing. I look at my sentences and challenge myself to say the same thing in fewer words. Usually words such as “that” and “it” are the first to go. If the sentence is constructed eloquently those words become redundant. I ask if there is a way to restructure the sentence to eliminate another word or two. Finally are there are any sentences in the paragraph that can be completely eliminated?
If the story can be told in a shorter form, it hits with more impact.
One of my favorite books is The Alchemist, not only because it is a short and quick read, but because for the number of pages it is an epic story that tells life lessons, grows the protagonist, introduces other impactful characters and then ends in a life lesson that can be taken away.
4. Details Bring The Story to Life
Occasionally I will write a post that I feel is complete and then the words count tells me it’s only 500 words. That’s when instead of trying to drive more points home I look at the story I tell at the beginning and then add further detail. I describe the scenery, the moment, and the personal feelings I felt. I work on driving the audience more to the moment that was my personal struggle in order for them to fully be involved in that moment.
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5. Tell a Story, Make A Point
People are emotionally driven. That’s why the best-written pieces and public speakers immediately get you entranced with their story. They don’t just explain the facts, they drive you to understand the emotion.
The stronger the emotion, the more memorable the story.
Strong love, heartbreak, and fear are the most often used. The only thing to remember with the negative emotions is to draw the audience in and bring them back up. Never leave the audience in a negative state, and don’t leave them in the negative state for too long. Tell the story that brings them fear. They know the moment, and even if they don’t have a personal reference point, they can imagine how fearful it would be. Then bring them up with a feeling of hope.
Answer how you began to turn that moment around for the best. You don’t have to finish the high note at this point. Save that for after the lesson is made. But always end on a high note. Do your best to avoid the come-down plateau. People want to feel empowered, excited and action-oriented. The come-down plateau, usually in the form of the final wrap of the lesson with the story, doesn’t need to occur. People may not remember the entire lesson, but they will remember how you made them feel. That uplift and excitement at the end of the story.
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As I waited for that moment of inspiration to hit, that’s when it did. By struggling to tell any story I was able to tell the story of my personal struggle to create. It happens to us all. That’s when I just start writing. The lesson is not the one with the largest impact but the one that drives us to take initial action.
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Kim is an international speaker, two-time author, and The Leading Sales Coach for entrepreneurs and small businesses. As Vice President of the Change Your Results! team, she helps companies create a sales process and ask the right questions at the right time in order to immediately achieve consistent revenue streams in only a short time.
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