Sometimes it's difficult to come up with stuff to write about regularly. Call it writer's block, blogger's block, loss of mojo or something else, it's frustrating when you sit staring at a blank screen with nary an inkling of where to begin.
This happens to me all the time.
Words flow easily from my brain to my mouth (too easily sometimes) but it's a whole different story when I've got to get those words from my brain to my fingers.
If you can relate, here are some ideas to remove the log jams.
Optimize Your Writing Environment
- Make yourself comfortable. I wrote much of my ebook sitting on the floor in my closet, hunched over my laptop. That was mostly because I was desperate for a quiet place. Let me tell you, it wasn't ideal. It was hard on the backside and the back, and the fluorescent lighting was depressing. Find a spot that has natural light and doesn't make you sore hours afterward.
- Step away from the computer. Many times, the more I sit and stare, the more blank I become. Sometimes the very best thing you can do is to not do anything at all. Related: 3 Things I Do When I Get Off Track
- Change your scenery. I'm a homebody and am content to spend the majority of my time in my house. But it's easy to get into a rut this way. If I go to the coffee shop, the library or somewhere else, it seems to shake me out of my rut and the ideas flow again. If you're used to quiet, find some place noisy. If you're used to noisy, find some place quiet. If you're used to being alone, find a crowded place. If you're used to being among people, find a place where you can be alone. Mix things up bit.
- Listen to the right music. Sometimes I go to the library, find an out-of-the-way spot in the corner, turn up my upbeat classical music (with headphones of course) and go to town. I can crank out a fair amount of work this way. The music blocks out any noise and the fast pace of the music (often angry, I admit) keeps me alert. Choose music that keeps you going and doesn't distract you, like, I cannot write when there's words in my music because then I start singing. And that's not helpful for anyone.
- Forget all the fancy gadgets and go old school. What about writing the old fashioned way, with pen and paper? Heaven knows there are a million and one things vying for your attention on the computer. Plus, maybe the act of writing with a writing instrument will help you more fully engage. I just drafted a presentation on paper this morning. Sometimes it just works better that way.
- Turn off and log out of everything but your text editor. I can write a lot faster when I type, paper and pen are not the most efficient way for me to write in large doses. On the other hand, my tendency to procrastinate and find anything to do other than write is huge, so I turned it all off. It was just me and my text editor. Email, Facebook, Twitter, blog comments, phone, texts—turn it all off.
Where to Get Inspiration
- People watch.I have two favorite places in the world. One is the library. The other is the airport. It's true. I've spent a lot of hours in airports around the world and they are the most interesting places on the planet. The people watching is second to none. But if you won't be in an airport anytime soon, no worries. You can get all kinds of blogging fodder from large gatherings, the mall, sporting events and just about any public place where there are people.
- Other blogs. You don't want to copy anyone but posts and conversations on other blogs can spark some great ideas. If you see a hot topic, Check out Finding Your Voice Among Many, How to Stand Out as a Blogger and How to Find a Unique Angle in a Crowded Niche.
- Google alerts and sparks. Set up Google alerts on various topics you enjoy and see what gets sparked in your brain. If you're on Google+ try Google Sparks (here's an explanation).
- Pinterest. I talked about this on my Ultimate List of Pinterest Tips (see #18 under How to Use Pinterest to Drive Traffic).
- Books. I get no shortage of things to blog about when I read real books. I think it's because I can pull out one point and expand upon it. Of course there's movies, TV and other forms of entertainment as well.
Types of Posts That Work
- Create a list. Instead of creating your own content, do a round-up of helpful posts you've found around the web. Don't copy and paste, and make sure you always send readers back to the original article, but highlighting the work of others can be a nice way to take a little pressure off of yourself and share some love.
- Interview someone. Find someone you admire or someone your readers might like to hear from and interview them. You can go fancy and record the interview on Skype, or you can do an email interview with questions and answers.
- Review something. Maybe there's a product or service you've discovered recently or use regularly that your readers would love to hear about. Not only does it give you something to write, it's a great opportunity to make some affiliate income as well. You might be interested in my post How to Start Reviewing Products.
- Do a comparison review. This is slightly different from the suggestion above. Say there are two products you've used that do basically the same thing. Write a post comparing and contrasting the two. List your pros and cons for each and give a recommendation. People like honest reviews of something and I've heard a lot of bloggers say this has been particularly successful for them. Don't forget to use your affiliate links in there. I've read that for a lot of people, these types of posts convert well.
- Feature someone else. Pull together a list of your favorite posts written by your favorite blogger.
- Be controversial or play devil's advocate. If there's a hot topic in your niche and you've avoided touching the subject, figure out a way to address it in a way that fosters discussion (as opposed to attacks someone else). This is delicate, to be sure, and it's never worth bashing anyone else or gossiping, but an honest exploration of a tough subject can be very helpful.
- Tackle a topic that's causing widespread confusion. My Pinterest and Copyright post was exactly this. A lot of people were't sure what to make of all the stuff about copyright violations on Pinterest so I decided to spend some time researching and simply explaining what actions I decided to take as a result.
- Solve a problem. Keep your eyes and ears open for frustrations. That's how this whole site started actually. What I realized was that there were a bunch of people who wanted to start a blog but didn't know how to go about doing that. There are a lot of sites about blogging, but not a whole lot that lay out the step by step for you.
- Write a series. Kill several posts at once with a series. If you struggle with not knowing how to keep up the pace of writing, do a series.
- Ask your readers. Running out of blog post ideas? Ask what others would like to read. That's what I did on Facebook and was the precursor to this post. You could also ask via a survey (Polldaddy is an easy-to-use app for that) or write a post encouraging readers to email you or leave comments with their ideas.
- Retell a story. If you can't think of anything new to write about, think about something that happened to you in your pre-blogging days and retell the story. Ree's story (The Pioneer Woman) about how she met and married her husband is largely what launched her into blogging fame.
- Revisit popular posts you've written in the past. Go through your blog and pick out the posts that have garnered the most response. Is there another angle you can explore? Have you learned anything new about it? Can you present it in a different way? If people responded to it before, there's a good chance they'll respond positively again.
- Don't write at all. Do something else. Instead of writing your blog post, change things up. Try a video or a podcast or something totally different.
Next time, I'll share some of the tricks I've learned along the way. In the meantime, you might also be interested in my Writing Tips from a Non-Writer from my How to Write an Ebook series (at least how I did it anyway).
Other posts in this series
- 50 Tips to Battle Writer's Block, Part 1
- 50 Tips to Battle Writer's Block, Part 2