The Secret To Killing Writer’s Block

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This is a podcast episode titled, The Secret To Killing Writer’s Block. The summary for this episode is: Are you stuck? Hitting a creative wall? Brain just not working like you want it to? Hey, we've all been there. So on this episode of the Marketing Swipe File, DG shares his four-step formula for getting unstuck and beating writer's block. Give it a listen and you'll be coming up with better ideas in no time.

Dave Gerhardt: Hey, it's DG. And I want to send you a ton of free marketing stuff right to your door or your inbox, whatever you want. I'm serious because look, we know how it is. One of my favorite things about doing marketing at Drift is that we are all marketers, just like you. So we're marketers doing marketing to marketers. It's crazy. And one thing we know that in the B2B world, there's so much content out there it can be hard to figure out what to read and who to trust if you're looking to grow your business. And so we put together something that I call the ultimate conversational marketing starter kit. We asked our top customers, literally turned to them and said," What resources would you give to somebody new to Drift and conversational marketing?" And we're packaging all of that up to send right to your door for the first time for free. So that means I will send you a copy of the book I wrote with my boss, our CEO David Cancel, on conversational marketing. This book was an instant number one new release on Amazon in three categories. And it's already sold 10,000 plus copies to date. I will literally send you the actual 262 page hardcover book right to your door. Also, we'll send you This Won't Scale, a digital copy of our very popular book This Won't Scale, which is a book we wrote as a marketing team about how we do marketing at Drift. It's 110 pages. It's only been available as a hard copy, but we're making it available digitally for the first time as part of this offer. We'll also send you The Modern Marketer's Playbook. You'll get a digital copy of our Modern Marketer's Playbook, which is a guide we wrote with strategic insights from 35 of today's most influential marketing leaders from companies like Slack, LinkedIn, Okta, Vimeo, and more. We'll also give you The Conversational Marketing Blueprint, which is the best next step after you read the Conversational Marketing book. And it gives you a step- by- step guide for implementing and optimizing conversational marketing for your business. And it's not over, the Conversational Sales Handbook. This is a guide you're going to need to give to your sales team to build your conversational sales strategy, AKA what you do after you take everything you've learned in the book and the blueprint. All you have to do is visit drift. com/ starter and grab all this stuff right now. That's starter, S- T- A- R- T- E- R. I tried to have no Boston accent on that. drift. com/ starter. We'll send everything right to your door, or we'll literally just send an email if you'd prefer that. Okay? drift. com/ starter. And I will see you hopefully there. Hey everybody. It's DG back with another episode of the Swipe File. Short episode, but I want to share this because it's something that's helped me a lot. And I want to share my secret for getting unstuck. I think one of the hardest things about being in marketing today is this need to be creative. You have to be creative today because there's so much noise. And you have to constantly come up with new ideas, new campaigns, or you're going to get out- innovated by your competitors, somebody trying to take your job, whatever. And so what I've found personally is that this ability to come up with ideas, let me ask you a question. Unprovoked Dan, do you think that I have an ability to generate a lot of ideas?

Dan: Yes.

Dave Gerhardt: Yes. Okay. This is not a thing that came natural to me. This is something that I have learned, and I've learned it through just being super curious and reading a ton of books, watching a ton of videos, listening to a ton of podcasts. Okay? So now I have this ability to come up with ideas, but here's the problem. Even if you can come up with a lot of ideas, we're all human. We're all people. And if you're a person, you inevitably deal with something called writer's block. Writer's block is not specific to writing. It could be specific to making a video, to doing whatever, right? We all have that creative block. Even if you can come up with a bunch of ideas, you ultimately would come into work that day and you're like," I got nothing today. My brain's not working. I can't write. I can't do anything." And so I have a little formula that has helped me not only just get unstuck but basically this ability to just come up with an endless amount of ideas. And it's actually the name of this podcast. It's a swipe file, right? The reason why I keep a swipe file, and I'm pretty religious about it, is because I've seen it time and time again help me get unstuck. So there's a couple things that I do. Number one is I have a bookshelf of books, and I've talked about the marketing books that have influenced me the most. I keep them at work. I have a copy at home sometimes and a copy at work. Doesn't matter. Pay 10 additional dollars, that's going to pay off forever for me. So I keep a stack of books either on my desk or I have this bookshelf at work that I can always reference. So if I'm trying to write an email, I have so many books about copywriting and sales emails and sales copy. I can pick up one of those books and, I kid you not, within 10 minutes, go to any random page at any one of those books, you will unlock a new idea for going to write. That's number one. Number two is I also keep a digital swipe file. So I've talked about this before, but I use Evernote. And I use the Evernote Web Clipper, which is just a Chrome plug- in you can add. And basically makes it so any webpage that I'm on, I can take a screenshot of the webpage and in one click, sync it to my Evernote notebook. And then I go and add tags. So if I see a great ad, I will actually screenshot the ad, save it to my Evernote file, and tag it as ads. If I see a great billboard, I'll take a picture of the billboard with my phone, send it to Evernote, tag it with billboard. You get the pattern, right? All the way down to webinar ideas, email sequences, landing page templates, whatever. And then if I'm stuck or if I'm starting a new project that I need some ideas, I just go to Evernote and I literally search ads. And then it's going to show me all of my tag notes that have ads on it. That's been a super helpful thing for getting unstuck and just kind of starting this whole creative process. The other thing, number three though, is okay. You have this swipe file. So you got books. You got Evernote. Three is the most important lesson, which is get away from your desk, go outside, and go for a walk. This works every time. And it's funny because I was reading. The first time I read Ogilvy on Advertising, which is a book that was written in the'70s or'60s, David Ogilvy talks about how the way to come up with new ideas is to stuff your mind with content. So we already talked about that through reading and swipe file. Stuff your mind with content and then unhook your subconscious. So this is what, I just call it going for a walk. He calls it unhooking your subconscious. This could be maybe you like to work out. You like to play golf. You like to play tennis. You like to go for a run. You like to go for a walk, right? Basically the pattern is, fill your mind with stuff related to the project that you're going to work on. And then forget about it. Put your mind on something else. Go for a walk. And what's going to happen is, you ever notice that you're in the shower and boom, you get that great idea? That happens because your brain is not thinking about that big project consciously, but subconsciously it's working on those problems. It's also the same reason why sleeping on it works so well, right? You're frustrated with somebody and you sleep on it and you wake up the next day and you're like," You know what? I'm not as mad at Dan as I thought I was." Right? It all works the same way. It happens with the creative process and coming up with ideas as well. So if I have to go make a deck and I have a bunch of ideas, the thing that I always do is then I go for a walk. I go for a 20 minute walk. I'll just go get a coffee or something around the block. And I come back and I'm ready to go. It's amazing how well that works. The fourth thing. So we talked about read books, swipe file, go for a walk. Is to give yourself a deadline. Time is an amazing forcing function. And so a habit that I've been working on really recently is to block specific chunks of time on my calendar for doing specific tasks. So here's where I would get caught. Let's say I'm running a new email sequence for the sales team. I got all week to do that. It's Monday. I got all week to do it. I'm going to do it. I'm totally going to do it. It's Wednesday, I haven't done it yet. Now it's Thursday, I haven't done it. It's Friday, I'm like," I got to do it today." But then I get to Friday, and I have no ideas and I have no inspiration. So my trick has been, this maybe just works for me, but I'm sharing it because it might be helpful for you, is to actually book that specific time on my calendar when I'm going to do that project. So now, for example, I would book. Okay, Tuesday from 2: 00 to 4: 00, I'm going to do the sales email sequence. Giving myself a deadline basically means that no matter what at 4: 00 PM, I have to ship it that day. And that something happens in my body and brain that then says," You got to come up with a good idea because if you don't, you're not going to have any time the rest of the week to do that." So try to time box yourself. Give yourself a set period of time when either you're going to finish that project or you're actually going to go and do it. And block the time on your calendar to go and do that. So that's my little four. Was that four things? Yeah. That's my little four- step recipe for getting unstuck and coming up with better ideas. I hope it's super helpful. Let me know. Holler at me on Twitter @ davegerhardt. And let me know how you come up with ideas, how you get unstuck, or maybe if this little formula has helped you. Dan will be happy with this episode because that's another little seven minute nugget for getting unstuck. My secret for getting unstuck. See ya. Hey, thanks for listening to another episode of the Swipe File. I'm having a lot of fun doing this podcast. And so because it's fun for me, I hope it's fun for you. And it would mean the world if you could leave a review. Reviews really help. And so go leave review. Go to Apple Podcasts, leave a review. Let me know what you liked about the show, didn't like, want to hear more of. And also if you're not already subscribed, make sure you go subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Spotify. The show is everywhere that you get your podcasts probably where you're listening right now. But if you want more content like this, if you want to go a layer deeper, join me on Drift Insider. It's drift. com/ insider. We're teaching courses. We're sharing videos. And we have exclusive content for people just like you and marketing that we do not share publicly. So go and check it out. drift. com/ insider.


Are you stuck? Hitting a creative wall? Brain just not working like you want it to? Hey, we've all been there. So on this episode of the Marketing Swipe File, DG shares his four-step formula for getting unstuck and beating writer's block. Give it a listen and you'll be coming up with better ideas in no time.