Writer’s block is a tricky beast to tame: when it strikes, it’s all we can think about. Yet, the more we think about it, the more it sticks. Different writers have their own tips and techniques for overcoming writer’s block, and no matter how bad it feels, it does end at some point. This post describes 10 ways of pushing through the idea-less fog, and coming out the other end with inspiration galore.
1. Change your routine
A stale routine can lead to a stale mind, which, in turn, can lead to a case of writer’s block. Shake things up a bit by changing your workplace for one day. If you normally work at home using a laptop, try taking your notebook to a cafe instead. Even small shifts, like going for a walk at lunch-time instead of staying at your computer, can make a big difference in your thinking.
2. Ask for guest posts
If you’re stuck for content to write yourself, why not try getting someone else to write it for you? If your blog has a large audience, you might find yourself inundated with requests from other people who would like to showcase their work on your website. Even if no one has ever suggested this, try creating an advert for the site saying you accept guest posts and see what comes in. You could even write a blog post about it! Remember that no matter how desperate you might feel about putting content on your website, you want to make sure any guest posts you publish are in line with your blog’s ethos and relevant to its audience.
3. Publish an interview
If the number of forthcoming guest posts isn’t encouraging, try contacting a leading figure in your field for an interview. This can be conducted in person, over the phone, or by email, and you can simply transcribe the content into a blog post yourself. Many people are happy to give interviews as it offers them extra exposure, however it might be worth contacting more than one person so that you have back-up posts waiting for use in the future.
4. Reviews and case studies
Depending on your field of business, writing a review of a related product, book, event or service, can provide valuable content for readers. When writing a review, start by thinking what questions you readers might have about the product, event or service. Keep the content focused on the product, not on yourself, and try and make your feedback as objective as possible.
5. Collecting others’ posts
Curating other notable blog posts is an easy way of creating new content on a regular basis. Running a weekly round-up of the best content you’ve read over the last seven days provides readers with an insight into what inspires you and your business, as long as the posts are relevant to your website. When writing about other websites’ content, provide a link to the post, and a summary of what it is about, as well as what you thought was interesting.
6. Ask readers what they want to see
If you have a social media presence or an email list, turn writer’s block into an opportunity to find out what your readers want to hear about. Soliciting feedback can be challenging, but some of your readers might jump at the chance to tell you what they think. Their suggestions could provide material for future blog posts, and you could get valuable feedback and what topics they would like to read more about, as well as those they feel might not be so relevant.
7. Think of a problem readers have told you about or you have faced
Personal anecdotes make great blog posts, as people facing a certain problem or obstacles always want to hear that they’re not alone. Writing a more personal post might be challenge, as it can feel quite exposing. If you don’t feel comfortable writing about yourself, think of conversations you’ve had with friends about this certain issue, and keep the people involved anonymous. However you choose to present the issue, the most important thing is that you demonstrate to readers the outcome or solution you reached. Hearing how other people have overcome problems can provide more value for readers in similar situations than you might realize.
8. Write a list
List posts are not only a good way to generate new content, but they are also a very popular format among readers too. Creating a post about “10 Ways to do X” or “5 Best Y” helps you provide valuable, structured content that can make the post easier to write, and to read. This post is an example of a list post, and its sub-headings enable readers to scan the main points of the article without having to take the time to read the whole post. More examples here, here, here, here, and here.
Brainstorming might sound obvious – after all, isn’t that what you do every time you think about what to write? Unless you’re writing down every idea for a potential post, no matter how outlandish, controversial or silly it seems, you’re not properly brainstorming, and, consequently, you could miss out on some valuable ideas. When we brainstorm, we set aside our internal censors for a few minutes, letting all our ideas pour out. Once we’ve exhausted our fountain of creative wisdom, then we can start eliminating the ideas that really are too offensive, silly or inappropriate, leaving us with a wealth of ideas for future posts.
When we sit down to write a blog post, often we find that what comes to mind is anything but the subject at hand. We might think about other tasks we have to do that day, what we want for dinner, an argument we had earlier with our spouse/child/colleague, or last night’s episode of Mad Men. None of these things are necessarily going to help us write our blog post, yet it can be very hard to forget them, and try to focus on relevant topics. Julia Cameron, author of “The Artist’s Way”, describes a practice called ‘morning pages’, which can help free up creative blocks. Morning pages consists of sitting down to write three A4 stream-of-consciousness pages each morning before starting work. As the pages are stream-of-consciousness, you don’t censor anything – just like when brainstorming. The idea behind this practice is that it allows you to get most, if not all, of the thoughts swimming around your head onto paper, freeing up space in your mind for you to think more productive, work-focused thoughts.
Image credit: Mexicanwave and Abhishek Kumar