The other day, someone asked me this question: “What’s the key to produce outstanding content?”
My eyebrows rose, and I couldn’t resist a glib mental answer: A direct line to The Muse, the strength of Hercules, the cunning of Hades and a really nice magic wand.
You see, there’s a problem with “the key to whatever” advice – it implies there’s a single method of gaining entry into a place you’d love to get inside.
The truth is there’s no such thing, and even if there were, I’m not convinced this key would work consistently in the secret lock for everyone, every single time.
It’s an unfortunate fact, but as human beings, we’re chasing fool’s gold to think that we can ever find the key to the realm of Outstanding Content and enter this state of mind any time we so desired.
That’s just not realistic.
Of course, plenty of people out there would have you think they know the magic recipe and that they just whip it out anytime to create sheer genius content.
They don’t, and there isn’t such a recipe.
Yes, have a great headline. Yes, use storytelling to draw people in. Yes, have good voice and be authentic. But you can have all this and still never know whether what you write will get accolades or crickets chirping.
There’s never a guarantee.
And believe me, even the pros telling you how to write outstanding content don’t get it right every time. They’ve all written “meh” blog posts and not-so-hot content, and they never reach a point where every single piece they write always knocks it out of the park.
They do get close, of course. Pros write a lot of content, and every time they do, they learn from it. They get better at it. They learn to edit their own work. They improve their skills through direct hands-on practice, and many techniques become easy second nature.
They learn how to write what others think is outstanding. And of course, they don’t tell you about the stuff that never got published because it didn’t quite make it.
It’s hit and miss, always, for anyone. You can write great content consistently, good content frequently, and blah content invariably. But outstanding work, every time and on demand?
Perhaps that’s the true key to producing outstanding content: the realization, understanding and acceptance that most days, you’ll just write well enough, and that ‘outstanding’ is a rare surprise that sometimes happens.
And it’s perfectly fine (and quite healthy as well!) to be happy with “just good” most of the time. That lets you feel good and appreciate the days when outstanding comes along.
Do your best, keep the pressure off, stay balanced with your self-expectations, and just enjoy writing as often as you can.
Here’s the bonus: By taking the pressure of “outstanding” off yourself, you neatly sidestep performance anxiety and writer’s block block – which leaves you happily writing, stress-free!