Thursday, October 30, 2008

Removing your 'perfect' filter

One of the highlights of last week's Digital Marketing Mixer for me, was the chance to spend some time talking to Chris Brogan. We had met briefly at SXSW, but I hadn't really gotten the chance to pick his brain. I did last week and I asked him the question I think we all would like to know the answer to:

"How in the HELL do you create that much content?!?"

Chris explained that when he gets an idea for a blog post, that he has to immediately get it down. This has ALWAYS been my problem, I can get the ideas, but I won't put them down until I think I have the 'perfect' angle on them. This is a big reason why I rarely post at Daily Fix and Search Engine Guide anymore. Ann and Jennifer are two of my dearest friends in the world, and so many of the post ideas I have for their blogs I end up nixing, cause I don't think they are 'good enough' to be on their blogs. I put my 'perfect' filter in place, and the end result is that I kill a TON of post ideas for both Daily Fix and Search Engine Guide. I remember one time I posted something here, and it immediately got a lot of comments. Ann emailed me wanting to know why I didn't post it on Daily Fix, and I explained that 'I didn't think it was good enough to go there!'

One of the things I kept telling the people I talked to in Scottsdale was 'don't overthink social media'. But I realized I had been doing the same thing with my post ideas. My best posts are usually the ones I write in 10 mins. No editing, just put the idea out there, and publish it. When I overthink it, I spend 2 days tweaking and changing the post to make it 'perfect'. And it almost always ends up being a less valuable post than it would have been.

And I started thinking about the blogs I read regularly. Not every post is a classic, in fact many aren't. But I keep coming back cause once a week or so, they write an amazing post. Or maybe it's once a month. The key is, they give me a reason to keep coming back.

So thanks to Chris' feedback, I have tossed my perfect filter in the garbage. So far, I think it's working, as I've gotten up nine posts on all three blogs (this will be #10), with a couple more posts planned for today and tomorrow.

Is this a problem for you as well? Are you spending too much time trying to make your posts 'perfect', or are you like Chris, and can quickly verbalize your ideas and get them out there? What are your secrets?


Unknown said...

That's such good advice. Your are prolific, Mack! I don't see how you have this problem, but I DEFINITELY do. Guess it's time to ressurrect my "Pizza 2.0" post! LOL. Thanks!

Anonymous said...

Yeah, the perfect filter is a problem. I'm slowly learning to dump it. Turns out that often my best posts have been the "dash 'em off" ones that I never thought would hit a chord. Blogging is a great way to do battle with perfectionism!

Anonymous said...

You know, I'm still of divided mind on this one.. and these thoughts are in no way directed at you Mack, just to the process in general.

There's an awful lot of content for the sake of content out there and frankly, I get tired of wading through blog posts that are so obviously notches on one's proverbial bed post. I think if you're a writer, yeah, you have to write everyday and you have to have a discipline about it- but you don't publish everything you write. Somedays you just gotta give in to the fact that you really didn't produce anything viable.

That said, I think I'm no the definite (horrible) end of the spectrum where I post SO infrequently, I can't really build a critical mass with my blog. I'm a self-editor in the extreme... strangely enough, I don't have that problem if I'm speaking. Weird.

Great post Mack and thanks for the kick in pants.

Mack Collier said...

Pam I get what you are saying, you can go too far the other way and just put out too MUCH content. I'm thinking that for right now, I am trying to 'retrain' myself to just get the ideas out there. Then, as I refine the process, and am comfortable getting my post ideas out there, I can refine them a bit a make them a bit better.

At least that is what I am thinking, we'll see how it goes!

Anonymous said...

Mack, yes I do this too. My best posts are those that have nothing to do with business or marketing. The ones written from the heart minus the filter. Thanks for the reminder to let go!

Anonymous said...

Mack, I struggle with the same thing. I chew on ideas for so long that sometimes I feel they're overwrought by the time I get to them. I've been trying to train myself to let go a little bit and keep churning out content... this has become a huge necessity now that I'm responsible for creative content at work, too. I was writing before, but the editing process/protocol bought me a lot more time when I was doing more traditional PR.

Now that it's social media and web content development, I find that I'm writing as many plans and memos, but I'm still counted on to come up with creative ideas and get the posted as quickly as possible, too. I'm juggling this with my own blog, plus taking the time to engage with other bloggers and stay as informed as possible.

I understand what people are saying about developing quality content, but at this point, I think I'm better off focusing on the quality of my voice.

Thanks for the post -- and thanks to Chris for sharing his wisdom with you!

Anonymous said...

alway get it down I have missed many good blog posts and articles because I didn't get it down fast enough and it filtered out of my memory

Sonny Gill said...

It's not even that I spend a lot of time to perfect it (that goes into the editing once I'm done writing) but my problem is getting the idea down when it comes to me. I usually wait to do it later and then my idea has either passed or just lost the fuel behind the fire.

I've vowed to write/type down all the ideas that come to me from now on, which I think will help in my consistency as well.

Anonymous said...

Two thoughts. One, sometimes I think an idea isn't "good enough" or too basic, but I forget that not everyone is on the same page. Even those who have been reading my blog for awhile might not read every post! I try to write blog posts that will be helpful, but I try not to overthink that.

Second, Mack, you are the most modest person I have ever met. In my opinion, everything you say and do is brilliant! :)

Anonymous said...

You and I are cut from the same cloth, Mack. I constantly stop myself from posting because it's not "perfect" or "worthy" enough. Thanks for the reminder that I need to work on letting myself go!

Anonymous said...

In other words, Mack, you suggest I should stop sitting on a dozen blog post ideas and just write them?

OK... working on it! Let the races begin!

Seriously, thanks!

Anonymous said...

Mack, I got my blog prepped months ago, have several others in line to start up and have a million post ideas on those subjects. But life got away from me and each time I thought I'd START, I balked, with my inner critic coming up with a million reasons why things weren't perfect. Instead, I waited until the first posts blew out of me and have made it into fun, started at with the idea of two posts a day at least. If I had my laptop with me when I run around during the day, I'd do more. But overcoming my inner perfectionist was nearly impossible.

Anonymous said...

I totally do this. I'm never happier than when I'm writing - but I'm a perfectionist at heart - the two do NOT go together. It has paralyzed my blogging for the past several months because I got out of the habit - and then the perfectionist gene took over and kept me from diving back in. This week, I'm back in again - and I've never been happier. Plus, like you said, every now and then, a stroke of genius happens to fall out of my head - and people just keep reading. Cheers!

Anonymous said...

I'm also in the same boat. I often sit on ideas/drafts until they become "outdated."

I'm now using a Moleskine to help record ideas to hopefully improve my process. Another tactic I've thought about is from back when I was a kid: "No tv, Nintendo, fun, etc. until your homework is done!"

Mack Collier said...

"I understand what people are saying about developing quality content, but at this point, I think I'm better off focusing on the quality of my voice." Hmmmmm!!!! Great point Shannon, I am going to have to mull that one over a bit.

Thanks Becky, but I say a LOT that is pure bunk. Fortunately, I am usually smart enough to delete it before I hit 'Publish' ;)

Steve I dunno if I could handle 'no Twitter until you write 2 more blog posts!' My problem is that when I try to 'force' myself to write something, it makes it even harder to do so.

Guys thank you SO much for the comments, a bit comforting to know that I'm not the only one that struggles with this!

Deb Brown said...

Don't we all do that? I've started writing down ideas in my notebook as they come to me - and then I go to a document and start writing when I feel moved. It helps, but then again, I'm new at this! I know I'm not alive if I'm not writing - so the perfect filter for me is no filter!

Anonymous said...

Unfortunately, I don't filter mine well enough. :D

If I had more time, I would probably write 5-6 posts per day. You seem to strike the right balance though. No worries there.

And then there's Twitter. ;)



Beth Harte said...

Mack, I am so glad you wrote this have no idea! I always explained my issue as my "brain/finger disconnect" (which seemed like writer's block, but that wasn't it) then I thought it was more like "stage fright." I had ideas swirling around my head, but when it came time to type...I froze. Literally. And I think it's for the exact reason you mention. It's not perfect enough.

After the MarketingProfs Digital Marketing Mixer I made promise to myself that I would just do as you suggested, just put it out there. And ironically, some of my posts that get the most conversations are the ones that I just typed up quickly.

I think the quick posts are the ones that reflect us (our personalities, passions, beliefs, etc). Companies just getting into blogging can learn a lesson here too! :)

Thanks again Mack! You just helped me overcome stage fright. :)

Kevin Dwinnell @ Brand Thunder said...

Mack: You're right on and I think you can replace "post" with many of our endeavors. I find my need for "perfect" to interfere in so many things. As I've tried to make my mantra "good enough" it's given me much more flexibility, creativity and the ability to let go.

Anonymous said...

It helped me years ago to read Bird by Bird, by Anne Lamott. She describes the need to write "the sh#&*^ first draft" and get it out of the way. You can delete it later, but you have to start somewhere.

I have to write a lot for work and when my fingers freeze and my brain feeds me garbage for the first line, I try to force myself to type the crappy stuff anyway. It gets my fingers moving and my brain can engage later to apply the delete key liberally I just hope it's applied enough!


Anonymous said...

Just remember, It's *only* a blog!