Want to know a secret? This article spent several hours as a blank page, cursor blinking forlornly, before coming into existence. Despite the epic amount of dog-related content you probably consume, it’s common to draw a blank when creating your own. Whether you’re seeking ideas for an impactful social media post, a client handout, or an article for your newsletter, fresh ideas help you engage and educate your audience.
Here are some ways to get your creativity flowing when writer’s block strikes.
Plan and ponder
Often the best way to come up with new ideas is to consume some first. Signing up to dog related newsletters and events, subscribing to podcasts, and attending conferences can help you tune into what’s happening in the dog world. There are also ways to automate some of your dog news consumption, such as setting up Google news alerts with specific key words or joining a news aggregator application like Feedly.
Once this information is hurtling into your brain/inbox, stay organized! Maintain a bookmarked bank of inspiring articles or fascinating research papers you have stumbled upon, and regularly remove those no longer relevant. Take notes during events and podcast episodes, and save all those email newsletters into a specific ‘read later’ folder rather than deleting them or letting them drown your inbox.
And don’t forget that all-important resource close to home – your clients. The best way to create content your readers will engage with is to understand the problems they are trying to solve. Send out surveys and ask clients directly about topics that interest them and knowledge gaps they struggle with. Are there particular breeds that are popular in your area? Has there been a recent spike in new puppies locally? Is there a recurring community concern, such as dogs escaping or persistent barking?
Now the hardest part…carve out time to meaningfully consume this hard-won content. Rather than skim everything on the fly, set aside time each week in your master schedule to turn off distractions and read, listen, or watch. By providing your full attention, you will be able to retain information in a lasting way, and more fully-formed ideas will start to flow.
Play and generate
Now’s the fun part! It’s time to let all those ideas swirl around as you begin turning concepts into content. If you’re always on the go, keeping a small notebook or note section on your phone is a great way to jot down thoughts as they arrive, as well as document your personal experiences. The phrase ‘write what you know’ suggests that an ideal starting point for creation is sharing your lived experiences and areas of expertise. It can also make your writing more relatable. If you’ve been addressing reactivity in your own dog, for example, sharing your learning and approach can help bring this topic to life.
If you love trying out new technology, experiment with AI tools like ChatGPT to ask for article ideas, headlines and answers to questions you’re pondering. This technology is in its infancy and the world is still figuring out how best to use it, as well as what its risks and limitations are. At this stage of the game, we suggest having a play and paying close attention to fact-checking and proof-reading. These tools provide exciting opportunities for content creators, but it’s important not to lose your unique voice and expertise in the process.
If you’re still pondering the direction of your writing, try some freewriting. Throw grammar, structure, and spelling concerns out the window, and just write whatever comes to your mind for a set period of time (use a timer – we suggest starting with just 5 minutes a day). Even if it makes no sense, or you end up on a tangent about that time you came in third in your high school swimming competition, keep going. The aim of this exercise is to loosen your creative muscles and get into the habit of writing regularly.
If you need a bit more structure, give yourself a prompt. For example, you could pick a ‘hot topic’ word or phrase in the dog industry right now (“positive”, “collaboration”, “it’s not all how you raise them”), and use that as the basis of your writing exercise. You could also try listing all the words that come to mind related to that topic and see where it leads. Are there connections between these words that you haven’t considered before?
Anything that evokes emotion or a mindset shift is likely to be easier to write and more enjoyable to consume. Tapping into your senses can be another great way to get your writing flowing. Viewing images and art, both dog related and not, can prompt ideas in a way words sometimes can’t. The same goes for sounds and smells, including music, being out in nature and listening to conversations as you sip coffee in your local cafe.
Pause when you need it
You’ve done your research, you’ve managed to get some ideas out onto the page, you know the direction you want to head in…but you’re still stuck. Creating content is not always a smooth process, whether you’re writing a 280 character tweet or crafting your latest feature article in your monthly newsletter.
If the frustration is rising and you feel like flinging your keyboard across the room, take a break. Switch tasks and try something easier for a while that doesn’t require a lot of your creativity. Or try a different environment, such as a cafe or library. A change of scenery can often help spark new ideas and inspiration.
The best reset of all? If possible, take a walk. There’s research to suggest that the simple act of walking leads to divergent thinking and an increase in creativity. If you were looking for another excuse to spend quality time with your dog outside, this is it!
Content creation is a key component of running a dog training business, helping to market your business, communicate with clients and share R+ methods more widely. Newsletters can help with all three of these, and are the perfect opportunity to put your creative strategies to the test. For more tips on creating an awesome newsletter brimming with great content, download our free guide.