My drug of choice is writing––writing, art, reading, inspiration, books, creativity, process, craft, blogging, grammar, linguistics, and did I mention writing?

Thursday, October 26, 2017

The SEO Content Writing Wisdoms (Mailbox)

[Remember, keep sending in your questions to chris.brecheen@gmail.com with the subject line "W.A.W. Mailbox" and I will answer a couple a week.  I will use your first name ONLY unless you tell me explicitly that you'd like me to use your full name or you would prefer to remain anonymous.  My comment policy also may mean one of your comments ends up in the mailbox. And I will absolutely do more jokes and jazz hands than answers if I'm pulling into the station at like 10pm on a Thursday night.] 

Just a quick reminder before I get going that I'm still looking for questions–particularly if I told you I would be answering your question and then forgot. I didn't forget, but I did lose the "Notes" file that had all the questions in it.

JG asks:

Ok, so I decided to turn down another annoying content writing-type thing, since I know it would just demotivate me (even though it would at least earn me tiny moneys) to attempt to focus on writing I actually enjoy. I want to get that spark of writing back that I had as a kid (though, considering how quickly I wrote my stories perhaps I was never really as focused, dedicated or motivated to write as I like to think of myself.) However, I am in a serious writing funk. Like... I have ideas but everything is coming out like chunky sour molasses vomit. What the hell. So basically I want to focus on writing fiction and nonfiction I enjoy not so much the SEO and copywriting stuff I've been trying to force myself into.

Can you give me the wisdoms?

My reply:

I am like the Pez dispenser of wisdom! It's kind of novel the way you it comes out of me, but it's really not that great, and after you're done, you sort of wonder if there isn't literally anything else you might consume to get what was lacking.

Hmmmm. This metaphor ended up in a different place than it started.

Well anyway, you're on the right track with how to get you writing out of the chunky sour molasses vomit zone (it's totally a thing). SEO and content are jobs. That's all they are and they should be treated as such. Yes, they're technically writing jobs in that you will have to employ things like words and sentences with punctuation and verbs. They may even, in some small way, be creative. However, like a chef who hates to cook at home or a housekeeper who tolerates kind of a mess, one of the problems with doing this sort of work if you want to be writing creatively is that it can use up your writing energy.

You have taken the first step in getting out of this quagmire of "technically I'm writing."  I lift a glass to you.

The problem is pretty simple. A lot of folks who want to be writers fall into one of two pitfalls. Either they think most writing is created equal (it's not), and they're getting good practice and honing their skills because writing is writing is writing. Or they think that making money writing is the total fucking promise land and nothing will matter once they are wordsmithing for a paycheck.

(Before you ask, yes, I've done this kind of writing. No, I didn't like it. It paid [not well], and I quit pretty quickly. So I do have some idea the demands of this sort of work and how it is compensated.)
Both of those pitfalls have one really trixy bit of bullshit complicating them as dismissable: And that is that they are technically true.

Yeah, I said it.

They are true. Kinda. Maybe. For a while.

The problem is that each has a point of limited returns and they're probably a lot sooner than you think. In the case of practice and proficiency, a writer can probably learn most everything that could possibly be useful to their creative writing in less than a month of doing content writing or SEO work. Anyone who needed to learn anything more wouldn't likely have gotten the gig in the first place.

As far as "technically I'm writing for a living," it's kind of awesome. Then you realize that when you get home and look at the screen, the last fucking thing in the universe you want to do is more goddamned writing. You want to read trashy Robert Asprin novels, watch The West Wing, and beat that fucking last level of Majesty.....or maybe that's just me. Point is, most writing jobs sap creative writing energy, and even when they don't they can really affect the "mode" in which one writes. (And banal informative sentences that are very easy and repeat key words often is actually a really shitty way to write creatively.)

Now whether or not you are okay with the fact that your job writing is sucking your creative writing's will to live is a personal choice. Some people happily do their not-creative-writing careers for years and years and love the shit out of it and still talk about how some day they're going to write their novel. Others (like me) quickly realize not only is it not the writing they want to be doing but it's DETRACTING from the writing they want to be doing, and get the hell out of Dodge.

The Suck Kut will be playing the role of your totally writing job.
Garth will be your creativity.

If you are really good about writing as a habit, and a small break wouldn't turn into a long or indefinite one, I would take some time off. Get the writing SEO content out of your system completely. Do a lot of reading instead. You'll probably be chewing at the bit to get to something creative in only a week or so. If you don't want to take time off, I would at least try to give yourself a palate cleanser–maybe a week of LIGHT writing, heavy reading, with a lot of free writing and prompts without trying to do an official project–and see if the words have a less molasses vomit feel when you're done.


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