With us being knee-deep in previews for Magic: The Gathering's latest set, Ikoria: Lair of Behemoths, I'm back looking at Magic content creation, with a spotlight on mental health and common roadblocks within the field. Creating content is hard work and can affect our mental state from time to time. So this week, I'm examining common issues that can crop up in creating content and how to overcome these hurdles. Remember, having hurdles is natural for any creative outlet, so do not think less of yourself for experiencing these issues.
|Beginner's Guide to Writing Magic Content|
|Part One - Creating Content, Practices, and Platforms|
|Part Two - Sponsorships, Writing Structure and Competitive Results|
|Part Three - Networking, Social Engagement and Resources|
|Part Four- Utilizing Images, Structure and Links in Your Writing|
Writer's block is a common struggle for content creators who choose to write as their preferred medium. It's a condition where there is difficulty coming up with original ideas, to the point of being unable to produce work for a substantial amount of time. Usually writer's block falls into one of these three categories, but it can extend into other forms:
One important reminder is that suffering from writer's block is completely natural and does not devalue you as a writer and content creator. It's a common occurrence that will happen to you in time. Admittedly, there is no surefire way to remove writer's block as it varies from person to person, however, there are approaches you can take to overcome the challenge.
An approach I exercise is to leave my work for a day or two, or even sleep on it and resume writing the next day. By doing this, you are giving your work a fresh set of eyes which may improve its quality. Another path I take is to use a method called "freewriting," where you write and ignore any grammar and prose. Doing this enables you to write whatever comes to your mind and exports your ideas in their purest form, without worrying about structure and decoration.
Freewriting works best if you can allow enough time for it, say fifteen minutes to an hour. Then, you can leave your work, come back to it and then work on the structure and grammar. Lastly, send your drafts to a friend, your editor or a content creator for feedback. It's easy to think that you have to create content on your own, however, there are plenty of resources to aid you when you aren't feeling confident with your content. There is no shame in asking for help from time to time.
Another hurdle that creators can experience is imposter syndrome. It's a psychological pattern in which one doubt's their achievements which, as a result, creates an internalized dread of being exposed as a "fraud." This is a common theme in highly successful individuals but can extend to anyone of a creative nature also. I'll be honest, imposter syndrome is something I struggle with regularly, and it's easy to doubt your skill or talent due to a lack of confidence and belief. One experience of the syndrome is a sense that, despite evidence to the opposite, you believe that your success is not genuine. There may be even deep-rooted anxiety that your publishers may realize you are a "fraud" and could let you go at the drop of a hat. Although not all written content creators are published and choose to self-publish, this does not exempt the feeling that you may feel what you are creating is inadequate or only achieving success through luck.
There are approaches to pull yourself ahead in this persistent tug-of-war you may be feeling, and the key one is identifying that you are not alone. It may be healthy to share what you're feeling with your support network or fellow content creators. In most cases, your peers can reassure you that what you're feeling is completely natural, and perceiving others have been in your position can make it less intimidating.
One process I have grown to understand is to learn to trust people. This may be a weird notion especially within the realms of social media where you aren't meeting these people on a face-to-face basis. However, there is very little reason for your audience or fellow creators to lie, given that the internet can be a volatile and damaging environment at the best of times. In some respects, the internet can be a cutthroat setting where users won't be afraid to speak their minds. If you were to create bad content, your audience would be the first to advise you and would not decorate it otherwise. By this process, it's healthy to take stock in what your peers and audience say in regards to your work positively, as it holds more truth and perception that you may realize.
Let's be honest for a moment, not everything you produce is going to be great. It doesn't need to be great, and there will be instances where you will create content that won't meet your expectations. This does not mean you are a failure as a content creator, and it's critical to look at your legacy instead of the last piece of content you created. After all, we are human and many variables can influence the quality of our work. However, what you can do is change how you react to it, whether that means tugging away at your inner critic or letting the expectations of others withdraw you further. What is important to remember is why you started creating content, your origin story and why you love creating content for one of the best games in the world. However, you have to learn to give yourself a break. It's easy to blame yourself for the bad and dismiss the good as luck or generosity, but you have to maintain a balance and be accountable for both sides of the spectrum.
FOMO (fear of missing out) is becoming increasingly more common given how the internet (and more importantly social media) affects our everyday lives. FOMO refers to the feeling or perception that others are living or experiencing better lives than you are. This can compromise your self-esteem as it is common to compare yourself to others, and this can extend toward creating content. Especially when you witness your peers having opportunities or collaborations, you may get the feeling you are either inadequate or missing out. Although creating engagement and networking is a solid approach to gaining reach with your content, it can be damaging to pursue this consistently through social media. Sometimes, it's good to take a break from social media to recalibrate yourself and focus on what matters, which is you and the content you create.
Referring back to a point I made in past articles, you shouldn't compare yourself to other creators, as this will generate doubt that what you are presenting is not good enough. Only you can change what you create, so this should continue to be a priority. It's easy to be distracted in other peoples' work and their opportunities, but what can you do about that? Nothing. You can only influence what you can affect, which in this case, is you and the content you create. Keep to this mindset, and you should be fine—if you feel otherwise, remove yourself from social media for a while and recalibrate. Your mental health is far more important than the content you create, and your audience won't think less of you for taking time out. This process may seem easier said than done, but creating content is a marathon, not a sprint, and opportunities will come to you over time.
Lastly, try not to obsess over likes, follows or numbers. Metrics are usually a good indication of views when it comes to content, however, a high follower count does not always equate to a good content creator. Quality of follows over quantity is ideal, and hitting both is possible, but don't let it discourage you if your numbers are low. Consistency is the key, therefore focus on creating content on a regular basis and your audience will grow over time.
Finally, creating content is a slow process and it's all about the direction you are going in and not the speed of it. As you keep to a realistic, consistent schedule and remain approachable to your audience, you will become established over time. It's important to keep the focus on what you love doing within creating Magic content, as it's the passion that creates a lightning rod for others to share their spark with you. Once again, if you have any questions, feel free to reach out to me on Twitter. I am more than happy to help any of you who want to delve into writing and overcoming mental blocks to create content. Mental health is a delicate instrument, especially with the world being at the mercy of COVID-19, so it is important to stick together and support one another through this difficult time.