You sit in front of your computer with fingers poised over the keyboard, ready to type out the next truly entertaining blog post when it strikes — the dreaded writer's block. If you're blogging regularly, there may come a point where you feel burnt out and unsure how you are going to formulate a single sentence more, much less an entire blog post. The pressure of blogging on a daily basis can lead to a mental block. Or, perhaps there are other things going on in your life that make it hard to focus. Whatever the cause, there are 10 simple things you can do that will help you move past the blockage and get that next article up on your site.
All types of writers and artists struggle with blocks from time to time. On the blog DJ Tech Tools, Tarekith, electronic music producer and mixdown creator, shares:
The greatest artists and musicians of all time all struggled with creative blocks, as well as the negative thinking that comes with them.
Get Past the Block
Turn Up the Music
Years ago, my friend Pamela Johnson and I penned a book called So Your Muse Has Gone AWOL? We interviewed authors about how they overcame writer's block, brainstormed things that worked for us and found that most of the authors had one thing in common – music soothed the writing block beast. There is something about listening to the beat and lyrics that frees the creative soul. Even though you're writing about non-fiction topics more than likely, you can learn a lot from those who actually write songs for a living. Klaus Crow advises turning up the music in his blog post 36 Impeccable Ways to Overcome Songwriters Block.
Listen to a type of music that is really different than your normal taste. Classical music lover? Listen to rock. Country music lover? Listen to rap.
Study the lyrics to a favorite song. Try to figure out the story behind why the artist wrote the song.
Listen to only the music without words or to musical scores.
Ask friends for suggestions of their favorite songs.
Listen to songs that set a mood. Writing about a topic that makes you angry? Listen to angst-driven teen favorites.
Refill the Creative Well
If you are a workaholic, your creative well may quickly run dry. You've heard the age-old saying “All work and no play…” Well, it is true. In order to think up new ideas and get them down on blog, you truly need to experience the world around you a little bit. For example, I recently wrote a blog post about Redbox Etiquette on my Crabby Housewife blog. I didn't come up with the idea for a blog post about Redbox manners by sitting at home in my office. No, I had gone to the Redbox to rent a movie for family movie night. I then returned to a different Redbox to take the movie back. Both times, I experienced behavior that made me wonder if there should be a list of rules for how to behave at Redbox. I jokingly posted on my Facebook wall that I was going to write a guide for Redbox etiquette. The response was immediate. Other people had their own Redbox pet peeves. Getting out in the world and interacting with others sparked an idea that I wanted to write about.
How will you refill your creative well? Here are a few ideas:
Visit a local museum
Read a book
Spend time with your favorite person
Go people watching at a local mall or restaurant
Have a night out with friends
For even more ideas, check out Julia Cameron's The Artist's Way.
Blogging Expert, Jerry Low, offers some useful tips for How to Blog More in Less Time. He suggests taking notes on those great ideas when you have them.
Have you ever had a great idea and plan to write it later, but then forget what that idea was? The best thing to do is take note of your ideas all the time. This way, when it comes time to write up a blog post, you can simply pull out one of your ideas, rather than spending precious time brainstorming a new one.
Keeping notes doesn't have to be complicated. Use these methods or create a few new ones of your own:
Carry note cards with you to jot a quick idea on.
iPhone users can prompt Siri to “take dictation” and speak the note into the phone for later reference.
Call and leave yourself a voice mail message.
Keep a small notebook in your purse or the glove box of your car.
Start a file on your desktop with a running list of ideas.
Use Writing Prompts
When all else fails, use writing prompts to get ideas going. You'll be surprised how a prompt on a topic like a stop light can spark ideas within your blog's niche. There are several sites out there that offer excellent writing prompts to get you started:
Although geared for teachers, the blog Daily Writing Prompts can spark a lot of ideas for the average blogger. The warmups and daily topics go through many of the holidays, such as Groundhogs Day and St. Patrick's Day. Writing on seasonal topics can help attract traffic to your site, so you may find that this site sparks a lot of usable ideas for your blog.
One of our 10 Killer Strategies to Win More Traffic for Your Blog includes networking with other bloggers. You can also use this network to brainstorm ideas for your own blog. Send out a group message and let the other bloggers know you're blocked. The majority will understand as they've likely experienced this situation themselves. Ask them if they mind brainstorming ideas with you or if they see any topic holes on your blog that you should cover. Here are some questions you can use to prompt them:
Are there any topics missing from my blog that I should cover?
What do you do to get over writer's block?
What holidays are coming up and how can I apply them to my niche topic?
What do you guys think about ___________ idea?
Just Write Something
If you're blocked, you're probably wondering why I would advise you to just write. You might even be shouting at the computer screen, “I'm blocked! I can't write! That's the point!” Well, before you throw anymore exclamation points at me, let me explain what I mean.
“I may write for two weeks ‘the cat sat on the mat, that is that, not a rat.’ And it might be just the most boring and awful stuff. But I try.”
And that's just it. You must write. Even if all you type over and over is “I am blocked and I don't know what to write.”
Eventually your brain will grow bored and your muse will allow you to begin writing something worthwhile once again.
Take a Walk
Get outside and get a little exercise. The change of scenery will sometimes spark and idea. Or, if you hate exercise, you could try what marketing copywriter Patty suggests, which is to review your notes and then take a nap. In her blog post “How to Overcome Writer's Block with These 3 Creative Exercises”, she writes:
“Reviewing project notes and then immediately allowing your conscious mind to rest gives your creative subconscious a chance to work out the problem without logic getting in the way.”
Try both tactics and see what works best to loosen your writer's block. It could even be that at different times, different tactics will work better.
He goes on to state that good content is the backbone of blogging, so of course he must write and write consistently. The tips he shares in this article include keeping a reference list to help spark ideas and make your research go more quickly. When you come across a site that can serve as future references for articles, bookmark it. This will make your writing go more quickly and will hopefully inspire you to write more often as it won't take up as much of your time for research. Some sites to start with are included in his article.
Read Other Blogs for Inspiration
Remember that network of other bloggers you are connected with?
Take the time to read a few of their blog posts and comment on them. Not only will this help you develop a relationship with the other bloggers, but reading their ideas may spark and idea or two for you. For example, if you sell blankets and you have another blogger in your network who sells earrings, you might get an idea for how to find lost jewelry in bedding that you want to post on your blog.
Focus on the Mechanics of Your Blog
If you still can't write after trying all these tips, perhaps spending some time increasing the traffic potential on your blog will be time well spent and will refocus your brain enough that the block will eventually go away. In the article on 10 Killer Strategies to Win more Traffic for Your Blog, there are some ideas you can use that don't involve writing, such as:
Gain an online radio presence
Create a slideshow
Answer questions on a Q&A site
Add a text with your website URL on all your photos
Participate in social networking
These are all ideas that ca help you use your time more effectively than just sitting in front of a screen and not writing anything.
Get ON Your Butt
You've probably heard people say “get off your butt” and get to work.
Well, I am going to tell you to just get on your butt. Place your behind in the chair in front of your computer and try different things until you are able to start writing again. There are hundreds upon hundreds of writing prompts and networking opportunities online. Be patient and eventually that bloggers block will be a past memory.
About Lori Soard
Lori Soard has been working as a freelance writer and editor since 1996. She has a bachelor's in English Education and a PhD in Journalism. Her articles have appeared in newspapers, magazines, online and she's had several books published. Since 1997, she has worked as a web designer and promoter for authors and small businesses. She even worked for a short time ranking websites for a popular search engine and studying in-depth SEO tactics for a number of clients. She enjoys hearing from her readers.