Break free of the nonprofit rut and get creative

in Copywriting - Nonprofit,Marketing for Nonprofits

Is your charity or association stuck in the rut of, “We’ve done it that way for years and it’s worked just fine.” Or are you trying to be creative and can’t seem to come up with the ideas?

I came across an infographic yesterday that may help you to break free of your copywriting rut – whatever it may be – and get creative.

BELOW the infographic I have a few helpful comments for you.

How to Break Out of a Creative Rut

Lot of points in the infographic that are as solid as granite. And here are three points I’d like to expand on – just a bit.

1.    Fearing ambiguity – I’m a very organized person. I’m also an engineer (technical education and work experience) with a highly diagnostic and analytical mind. So what?

I’ve learned that I can’t be creative when I’m focused on fitting everything into neat categories and lists. I can’t be creative if I allow myself to worry about whether that idea or fact fits perfectly here, there or anywhere. Just capture it and move on.

During the creative process there are times when things do not make sense. There’s a whole jumble of ideas, thoughts, and possibilities.

Let them flow. Sort them out later. It is possible to have both strong right brain and strong left brain capabilities. And they each deserve their time in the sun. As the infographic says, “… embrace the chaos and lack of clarity,” at least for awhile.

2.    Separating work and play – Exactly how you make the most of this concept is something you’ll have to work out for yourself.

What I want to share is that in discussions with my colleagues (i.e., professional copywriters), most of us find taking a break from the writing invaluable. Go for a walk, mow the lawn, or go to the gym. Another fruitful activity is to do anything that relaxes you, such as a hobby.

Quite often you’ll have a brainstorm while “playing.” It also recharges your creative juices so that when you return to writing, you’ll see weaknesses in the copy you didn’t spot before. Better ways of phrasing seem to jump out at you. You’ll be more creative.

3.    Don’t create and edit at the same time. How true. How true. How true!

If you can’t seem to help yourself, and you automatically edit every sentence or paragraph you type before moving on . . . ugh. You’ll likely end up with copy that’s not nearly as creative as you’re capable of producing.

Find a way to break yourself of the habit. Try writing it out long hand and then typing. Or shut off your monitor so you can’t see what you type.

This is HUGE. Let your thoughts flow. Then when the first draft is done you can go back and edit. After this I recommend you set it aside and let it simmer for a day or two. Then resume editing and writing.

One more point I’ll add that the infographic didn’t mention: Peak creativity does NOT come from heavy stress or being rushed and under pressure.

Creativity needs the chance to be fun and playful (remember Point #2). A relaxed mind and body nurture creativity. Stress and speed stifle it. I often find that people confuse productivity with creativity. Point made.

To wrap up, we’re all capable of being creative. You can break out of the rut. But you need to give yourself a fair chance at it.

What’s more, your nonprofit will benefit from your increased creativity. Your web copy, emails, press releases, PSAs, direct mail letters, ads, social media updates, text messages, videos, etc. will all be more creative. Your supporters will love it and be more responsive.

Related posts that also touch on points from the infographic:

Kung Fu nonprofit marketer

As your being creative, remember these principles . . .  Drayton Bird on Nonprofit Copywriting

This is hard work

And thanks to the creative folks at Copyblogger for the infographic!