It’s not you, it’s the process: What to actually expect when creating content

By Abigail Morris

(Photo from Adobe Stock user Kittiphan)

As I sit here writing this post, I find myself “stuck” on how to introduce this topic. I’ve spent hours on collecting, organizing, and summarizing data to include into this article. Yet, I’m sitting here clueless and hesitant. I’ve spent years of my academic career honing my skills to create content such as this and still I find myself constantly in this headspace. And because I aspire to do this as a career, the pressure of continually creating post and visuals that are interesting an engaging can become extremely discouraging – especially when I’ve dedicated so much time to the practice. But when I take a moment to step back and analyze where this disconnect is coming from, I begin to understand that this stagnant headspace is part of the process. 

With every creative industry (especially in areas of art and literature), there is a tedious and straining side of content creation that hardly ever is mentioned or noticed. And when you’re creating relatable/interesting text and visuals – one might find themselves more inclined to interject personal elements into their work (that are deemed professional and relatable to the topic).  Diana Bossio in the article, Burning Out and Turning Off: Journalists’ Disconnection Strategies on Social Media, she states that “These exchanges [emotive intrapersonal communication within a professional context] are a kind of labor, and they can also be seen in the context of building and engaging with community, being ‘creative’, expanding personal and professional networks, and engaging in a pleasurable activity. Baym (2018) characterizes this as relational labor, or practices and strategies that creative professionals have adopted to create stronger emotional and thus commercial relations with audiences.”

So, whenever a post receives positive feedback and attention, the creator of that content will feel a sense of accomplishment that validates their passion to keep creating. In the same sense, this kind of personal connection with content creation can cause emotional fatigue and burnout whenever they feel that they aren’t “hitting the mark” with their work. And with the added pressure of one needed to meet their quota, this can further discourage an individual within this field.

Like how writers and artist cope with creative blocks, understanding social media burnout can help content creators to identify aspect of their work that are causing stress or lack of fulfillment, so that one may be able to find ways to fix this disconnection.

This kind of persuasive and engaging rhetoric is heavily used within social media marketing, especially when one uses this to convey their brand identity as relatable. According to Demand Metric, 82% of consumer’s have a more positive perception of an organization after reading custom content. Because of this, 90% of organizations use content as a method for marketing. This desire for a brand to articulate an active, positive and informative image to their audience has become a necessity when creating brand trust and loyalty. With this push to create a positive and engaging public narrative for an organization, those assigned to accomplish such task many find themselves mentally and emotionally drained in order to provide their clients with quality work.

(Photo from Adobe Stock user Drobot Dean)

So, what should someone do then they are creatively “stuck”?

Disconnect by creating a professional persona.

The journalist interviewed for this study recommended that content created for work should not be used or posted on personal accounts. This ability to divide your personal and professional life is a way that any content creator can ease the stress of work so that they have the mental capacity to think outside of the box and create. In the article, Bossio states that “For journalists using social media as a professional communication tool, disconnection strategies actually work in tandem with the different ways they connect online, positioning those connections more strategically as professional labor and thus inscribing particular meanings and uses for social media interactions.”

Now, this ability to disconnect doesn’t mean that you’re sacrificing effective “personal” quantities of the brand identity that draw the attention of your target demographic. This just means that your personal and professional social media post shouldn’t be intertwined. Similar to the concept of dividing your physical workspace from your bedroom – the same concept should be used within your creative process. Although these personas differ, they’re still a part of who you are.

Just like how your able to decorate your desk at work with personal little nick-nack and trinkets – you can bring elements of yourself into the work you create. At the same time, you’re not going to put your queen-sized mattress in your office cubical. The professional persona that you create for work can embody a similar presence of your personal self. But when you start to associate the stresses of work into areas of your life in which you mentally and emotionally escape (in this case, social media), you begin to lose that sense of security that once was there (which is the number 1 way for any level-headed individual to lose their sanity).

As easy as I make this advice sound, one’s ability to successfully disconnect and create a professional persona is not something that can accomplished overnight. This kind of self-discovery takes time to properly analyze and evaluate.

(Photo by Adobe Stock user WavebreakmediaMicro)

In the meantime, if you find yourself in a creative limbo, remember that:

  1. This is absolutely normal
  2. Many people who work within the creative field experience this at some point within their career.
  3. Even though you feel creatively stagnant, YOU ARE DOING SOMETHING.
  4. It just takes time to see those results.
  5. If you’re aware of what you’re experiencing, IT WILL PASS.
  6. Understanding the source of stress and creative fatigue is vital when creating your “plan-of-action” to overcome the creative block.

Applying these steps into your workflow can tremendously help the stress created that can manifest itself into creative blocks. Also, acknowledging this aspect can lift the internal frustration that comes with constantly creating and posting content.

Allowing yourself the time to self-reflect and implement what you’ve discovered into your workflow not only lifts the pressure of expectations that you and those around you create, but it also allows you to focus on creating work that efficiently conveys the intended message.