How to Wrangle Your Content Gremlins by @JenKaneCo

by Jennifer Kane | Featured Contributor

You know what’s one of the most intimidating sights you’re ever going to see?





That, right there.

White space…a big, blank expanse of it, waiting to be filled with words and images to market your company, sell your product/service or communicate with your contacts.

That white space is special. You can’t just fill it up with random thoughts or poorly written tripe. (Although, many people do.)

If you want that white space to work hard for your business, you need to fill it with content that is original, interesting, entertaining, enlightening or educational.

And, sometimes that is hard.


That’s because our brains are ruled by two rambunctious gremlins – each vying to become the Emperor of the White Space.

  • One gremlin a writer who comes up with ideas.
  • One gremlin is an editor who helps those ideas make sense.

The trick to creating good content for your business is to effectively wrangle them both.

1. The idea gremlin.

Your idea gremlin’s strength is in coming with ideas and translating those ideas into words and images. He’s a creator, not a builder.

The best way to harness his power is to avoid sitting down with the intention to, “Write something good.” That kind of pressure can give your idea gremlin a panic attack.

Instead, make it your goal to write something bad…every day.

Cram your head with things you read, see and hear and let that information percolate. When an idea comes bubbling to the surface from those sources, or you have time to do an actual brainstorming session, sit and write down/type up those thoughts as soon as possible

These ideas can be ill conceived, misspelled, incoherent or rambling (Or, all of the above.) That’s A-okay. You and your idea gremlin are giving birth to something here. As any woman can tell you, birth ain’t pretty.

Try to collect a whole file or notebook of these half-formed, off-the-top-of-your-head missives. Some may become great pieces of content someday. Some may not. The important thing is to make sure you have a lot of ideas to choose from so the odds of finding a winner are in your favor.

During this phase, resist the urge to let your editing gremlin participate.

  • Don’t scroll back through what you’ve created to look for gaps, cracks and inconsistencies.
  • Don’t question the work and think, “Does this even make any sense?”
  • Don’t ponder, “How am I going to use this for my business?”

Just write, darlin. The idea gremlin will take care of the rest.

2. The editing gremlin.

Okay, time to tag team and let the other gremlin out of the box.

Your editing gremlin is really great at helping you determine which of your ideas is worth editing, and then will help you with the technical task of editing it. He’s a pragmatist, not an idealist.

The best way to harness his power is to gather all of your ideas together and sort them into topic groupings so you can get a bird’s eye view of what you have to work with (and where you have holes.)

Some of your ideas are probably strong. Some of them are probably weak. Some of them are probably so similar they should be merged together. The editing gremlin can help determine which is which.

Look deep within all these ideas and see if you can spot any diamonds in the rough, where the idea gremlin was on a roll, but didn’t follow through to flesh it out or back it up. Do a gut check and see if any of these ideas make you more excited than others, (Passion is combustible. It will fuel the editing process.)

Just be sure not to toss any ideas you don’t use. Someday, those ideas might grow into content that could fill a different expanse of white space. Your idea gremlin is probably dying to get another crack at them. So, tuck them away for that rainy day.

During this phase, resist the urge to let your idea gremlin participate.

  • Don’t add new ideas to the hopper, (You’ve got lots already.)
  • Don’t second guess the ideas and think, “What would happen if I took this in a entirely different direction?”
  • Don’t ponder, “Why do I even need any of this content?”

Just focus, darlin. The editing gremlin will take care of the rest.

3. The results.

Ultimately, both of your little brain gremlins are mischievous imps, who like to play more than they like to work. So, you’re going to have to be the grown-up and call the shots during this writing and editing process.

Don’t forget…

  • Keep your end goals in sight.
  • Harness the gremlin’s gifts.
  • Listen to your gut.
  • Trust your instincts.
  • Give yourself props for putting forth the effort. (Seriously.)

Just do it, darlin. You are a better writer and editor than you even know.

You are the Emperor of the White Space in this kingdom.


Content and Communications Strategist – Jennifer Kane of Kane Consulting – Minneapolis, MN

JenKaneJennifer Kane is an entrepreneur and marketing/communications strategist with more than 15 years of experience working with B2B and B2C companies through her firm, Kane Consulting.

Jennifer conducts training sessions, teaches and speaks nationally on topics related to social media, content marketing, change management and digital communications. Combining humor, tough love and passion, she’s known for giving it to people straight — from the hip and from the heart.

In addition to writing for her own blog, The Social Cyborg, Jennifer is part of the author community at Steamfeed, has guest blogged for BlogWorld and Mark Schaefer’s blog, {GROW} and been syndicated on BlogHer. She is also frequent guest on the Next Stage Business Radio Network podcasts.

Jennifer is mom to one active eight-year-old and two lazy Basset Hounds and manages the “Spinal Fusions Suck” social community on Facebook. In her spare time, she thinks a lot about the zombie apocalypse and the awkwardness of writing about oneself in third person.

You can connect with Jennifer on…

Twitter: @JenKaneCo

Facebook: kaneconsulting

LinkedIn: JenKaneCo

Pinterest: JenKaneCo

Google Plus: Jennifer Kane

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2 Replies to “How to Wrangle Your Content Gremlins by @JenKaneCo”

  1. Michael Blumfield

    Good stuff, as usual, from the fabulous Jen Kane. An alternative to the two gremlins model: think of your writing as pleasing three separate people and address them one at a time. First, yourself. Second, your boss/person paying you. Third, the user/reader.

    This isn’t intended to make it take a lot of time but rather to address each person’s needs so they’re not clashing internally as you start the work. Here’s an explanation:

    1. Jennifer Kane

      Ooo. I like that idea, too. Thanks Michael!

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