I sat down the other day to work on a case study for a client. I opened my notes from the telephone interview and scrolled through them for a minute or two. I started to think about how I might structure the case study into different sections.
Not five minutes had passed when I closed the document and moved on to another task. The magic just wasn't there. I had no inspiration for the project. And I've learned better than to try and force the process when that happens.
While this brief story is definitely meant to illustrate the importance of scheduling multiple writing sessions, and also to revere the ebb and flow of the creative process, really this was a "post within a post," meant to lead into today's real topic: storytelling.
If you were a writer or a storyteller long before you started trying to use the Internet to attract new clients, it may pain you to apply rules and structures to your writing. Please don't censor yourself, creative one! Let the writer in you write – flowingly, soulfully, abundantly, dreamingly, unabashedly.
But before you publish that story as part of your content marketing efforts, consider its real purpose – the moral of the story.
1. Is your story meant to inspire your readers? If you're a member of your own target market and you're sharing a success about the topic you specialize in, this is a great use of storytelling.
Writing prompt: End the story with a triumphant call-to-action so your reader can build on your experience.
2. Is your story meant to instruct your readers? Perhaps it is an example of a learning point, as mine was at the top of this post.
Writing prompt: Summarize the learning and give a concrete set of guidelines or tips your reader can use to apply the learning immediately, as I've done with these writing prompts.
3. Was writing this story a personal catharsis for you? Be honest, now. Don't worry, there's absolutely nothing wrong with that, and it doesn't mean you have to abandon the story or limit it to a personal blog. Sometimes the most inspiring and instructive stories came to life this way.
Bonus tip: You don't always have to use your own stories as the starting point – client stories can help build social proof for your work, while demonstrating some of your ideas. You can also explore characters or scenes from movies or books or write from the headlines.
Storytelling is a very effective way to inspire and instruct your readers, while stoking your own creative fire within. And your readers get to be the hero, as they each apply your guidance to find their own success.