You get it. You know content is king, and you’ve decided it’s time to beef up your company’s content. You know you want to create something engaging for your potential customers. You want to tell your story and share it with the rest of the world.
But there’s some uncertainty. You know you have a story to tell, but you aren’t sure how to tell it. Maybe you think your writing skills are weak. Or maybe you find yourself staring at a blank screen, wondering what on earth you’re going to write about. Something has been holding you back from sharing your story.
There’s a key to overcoming these obstacles: Just start writing.
“Practice makes better.” —Charles “Rusty” Briel, Executive Director, Indiana State School Music Association
“Make something worthy of your readers’ time.” —Andy Hollandbeck
“I have no idea what to say.” —You?
Like Mr. Briel used to say about practicing for a band concert, the more you practice your craft, the better you become at it. The more you write, the better you become. The key to sharing your story is practice, practice, practice.
One way to continue practicing your craft is by participating in writing challenges. Listed below are four different writing campaigns that take place throughout the year. These writing prompts are sure to get your creative juices flowing as you continue to refine your craft and discover your own writing style.
In an effort to encourage others to engage in regular blogging practices, SmallBox created the Think Kit in 2011. During the month of December, they publish a writing prompt every day. I, along with a few other brave souls at DigitalRelevance, have jumped in to this year’s Think Kit adventure. The prompts are open-ended enough that they can be used for almost any type of blog. Some prompts are rather simple, like “Document your year in photos.” Others, however, are a bit more unusual and encourage you to stretch your creative muscles. Have you ever been challenged to handwrite a post? Think Kit participants were encouraged to do so in 2013.
In addition to writing each day, the big challenge with the Think Kit project is the short amount of time you’re given to write about each topic. You are greeted with a prompt in your inbox first thing in the morning, and if you stick with the plan, your post needs to be published by the end of the day. It can be a test of your writing chops to write an engaging post within a short time.
A to Z Challenge
While Think Kit sends you a prompt every day, the A to Z Challenge allows you to plan ahead as much or as little as you’d like. The challenge? Write a post for every day – except Sundays – in the month of April. And here’s the kicker: the theme for each day is based on the alphabet. The theme for a post on April 1 would be inspired by the letter A. April 2 would be based on the letter B, and so on. For example, a visitors bureau in the state of Indiana could write about astronaut Neil Armstrong, a Purdue alum, on April 1. April 2 could be a post about basketball. And although there’s more than corn in Indiana, a post on April 3 could most certainly be written about that staple crop.
The real test of the A to Z Challenge is to find a great topic based on each letter in the alphabet. But as people learn of your participation in this challenge, they are going to want to return each day to discover how you used a certain letter. I participated in the Challenge in 2013 on my personal blog and discovered a significant increase in traffic and comments. I was also surprised to discover that the letters J and O were the most difficult letters for me.
National Blog Posting Month (NaBloPoMo)
With Thanksgiving, Movember, and National Novel Writing Month, November has become rather crowded. Even so, November has also been dubbed as National Blog Posting Month. The point is rather basic: publish a post each day during the month of November. It sounds simple enough, but the task can be daunting. Not sure what to write? BlogHer offers some prompts to get your creative juices flowing.
With over 415 million people viewing more than 14.6 billion pages each month, WordPress.com has become a hub of online activity. To encourage even more engagement with wordpress.com blogs, they have created a series of daily prompts that encourage bloggers to become more active writers and to let their creativity shine through. They promote it as a grand experiment and a place to discover other members within the blogging community.
What are you waiting for? Start practicing today. As you find your voice and improve your writing technique, you’ll find better ways to make something worthy of your readers’ time. And when you add value to your readers’ time, you become a trusted resource. As a trusted resource, you can find yourself with customers for life.
Just remember: practice makes better. So keep on practicing!
Image Credit: Flickr