4 Ways to Overcome Writer's Doubt

Jan 16, 2014 Beth Monaghan

“Everyone already knows that.” I’ve been hearing this a lot recently. It is almost always the answer to this question: “Would you write an article or blog post about that idea?”

These insightful thinkers – PhDs, industry veterans, book authors, and scientific geniuses – all question the uniqueness of their insights.

These smart people are entrenched in their businesses. They are talking to their customers every day. They’ve seen problems that others do not know about yet, and they’re creating solutions that no one else is thinking about yet. But when the spotlight shifts away from products to ideas, it elicits  a very human response, even among seasoned CEOs: doubt.

When you’re seeking a wide audience, it’s healthy and prudent to question your ideas. Overcoming doubt can be tough. However, in our work at InkHouse, doubt often signals the best ideas. Those who question their ideas most aggressively are often the ones who’ve done the most research and spent the most time thinking about these problems.

Helping clients overcome this kind of doubt is part of a PR person’s job. It’s critical because content has become such a large component of any successful PR program. The opportunity for content has never been greater.

So how should you test the viability of your ideas? Try these litmus tests:

  1. Your passion. Is this a topic that gets you excited, frustrated, angry? Good. That is an important starting place for all good thought leadership. If you agree with everyone else, chances are that you’re not too passionate about the topic. So look for discord.
  2. The press. How are the press covering your topic right now? If it’s getting a lot of coverage, is your perspective different? Is it different enough to stand out? If it’s not, is it related to another popular topic? Does your viewpoint add something critical to that discussion? If you can answer “yes” to any of these, it’s a good topic.
  3. Your authority. Why are you uniquely qualified to have an opinion about your topic? Did you write a book about it? Have you studied it? Do you have proprietary data that gives you unique insight? Have you simply been in your field for a long time and shown that you know how to succeed? Again, a “yes” to any of these is a good sign.
  4. The potential audience. Consider your target audience and the one for your point of view. Are they the same? If the answer is “no” then this is not your topic.

A good contributed article or blog post rests on a point of view that is relevant enough to be part of the industry discussion, but unique enough to stand out. These ideas must spark interest and discussion. They need to compel your audience to share your content. So be picky, but not too picky. If doubt is the only thing holding you back, it might be time to take a leap of faith. As Hemingway wrote, “As a writer, you should not judge, you should understand.”

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Topics: Blogging, Content, Writing
Beth Monaghan

Since the early days working around her kitchen table, Beth has grown Inkhouse into one of the top independent PR agencies in the country. She’s been named a Top Woman in PR by PR News, a Top 25 Innovator by PRovoke, and an Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year finalist. Beth designed Inkhouse’s signature Storytelling Workshop to mirror the literary hero’s journey and to unearth the emotional connections that bind an audience to a brand or idea. She also uses narratives to build Inkhouse’s culture, most recently through two books of employee essays, “Hindsight 2020” and “Aren’t We Lucky?”

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