Sitting in front of a word processor, while the cursor blinks hypnotically at the top of a blank page, is a ritual of writing. Blogger’s block, as I call it, is an unavoidable part of the writing experience. There are times where the words simply don’t flow.
If you’re a writer of any description, I guarantee that your creative fountain has clogged at some point. It happens to the best of us.
In this post, I will give you 7 methods that I personally use to both avoid and push through blogger’s block.
Cannibalize ideas from previous work
Assuming you haven’t hit the wall on your first ever post, look back over articles that you have already published. What were some of the key points that you made?
I write a lot of bullet-pointed posts, so I know that I have a cache of future blog material. Each Top 10 post is an opportunity to write 10 new, more detailed posts on each theme.
Pick one of the 10 points made, and analyze it more deeply. Was there more that you wanted to say, but didn’t have room to expand in that post? Have you gained a new perspective on that concept since you originally wrote about it?
This is an easy way to find inspiration for new topics. You can even cross-link to the post that you are expanding on, and link from the original article to your more detailed follow-up to make your blog more comprehensive.
Ask the audience
Giving your readers the opportunity to ask you a question is a useful lifeline to keep a steady flow of potential posts going. Sure, it might not give you something to write about at this very moment, but it will offer a new avenue of inspiration and allow your readers to feel more engaged with you as a writer.
All you really need to get this set up is to create a page on your blog and add it to your main menu.
This is a method that I have used with limited success. To really get the most out of this one, you will ideally have a community of followers somewhere in the thousands.
But if you haven’t got an army of people waiting to pick your brains and gift you a topic for a new post, all is not lost. There is similar, arguably-better method…
Use Quora or Yahoo Answers for inspiration
I like receiving feedback from my audience as much as the next blogger, but sometimes your readers haven’t submitted a question that you can really get your teeth stuck into.
Be proactive and head to the market and see what issues are troubling people that you can solve. If the audience isn’t coming to you, it’s time to go and find them.
Sites like Quora and Yahoo Answers are goldmines of inspiration. Whether your blog is about pet care, philosophy or paleontology, there are dedicated communities on these sites where people go to ask questions.
With a concentrated list of questions being asked all the time, you can quickly see what problems are asked most often and choose topics that match your expertise.
This is a solid approach for a lot of reasons. Not only do you have the luxury to pick and choose what topic to write about from a huge selection, most people who ask a question on these sites aren’t expecting much beyond a few lines of hollow inspirational quotes from someone fishing for a “best answer”.
Although you may choose not to link your post in your answer at all, if you do, you will blow their mind when you tell them that their question inspired you to write an entire post to address their problem, and you will likely find that you have a new reader.
Brainstorm and break it down
You will notice that most of my posts, like this one, have mini-chapters throughout them.
It’s not just to create snazzy, marketable Top 10 titles, or to make lengthy ramblings more organized and readable, although those are certainly benefits.
The main reason for my post format is simply how I write. First, I will think of a topic or problem (most of my articles are about addressing a problem). With that in hand, I will already have a few ideas for solutions to that particular problem, but I will then challenge myself to a brainstorm, where I come up with more ideas.
This helps to keep my idea muscle in shape, and also pushes my creative limits to reach solutions that I would never have contemplated before.
Once I have a list of main ideas, I flesh them out and organize them so that they are vaguely coherent.
Believe me, writing a 200-word blurb on a small idea is much easier than writing a vast wall of disorganized text about an abstract concept, and has the incidental benefit of being more readable.
This method alone has kept me from experiencing writer’s block as much as a lot of other bloggers that I know, and of course, has the added benefit of gifting you a list of topics that you can expand upon in future articles.
Keep a rainy day account
It’s conventional wisdom that you should have a stash of money tucked away in savings in case life gives you lemons and you need to fall back on an emergency fund.
Planes don’t fly without fuel reserves, and unless you want your blog to crash and burn, you should have at least a few passable articles up your sleeve ready to roll as well.
This isn’t so much a solution to writer’s block, but more of an insurance policy against it. However, removing the pressure of needing to write and publish an article right now can sometimes be enough to ease your creative drought.
Remember, writer’s block is all in your head, so you can often fix it by reducing the expectations that you are putting on yourself.
If you don’t have anything useful to say, don’t say anything at all
I’ve been guilty of just trying to write because I need to publish something.
Sometimes it works, but it usually results in a short, inauthentic blurb about a topic that nobody cares about.
Question why you feel the need to write.
Unless it is because you are motivated and energized to share a valuable idea that you have, or to solve a problem that you are burning to help others with, you are probably posting out of obligation.
The reason that you lack inspiration may be because you are trying to force a topic that you don’t really care about, or are writing to tick a box on your publishing schedule.
Does that resonate with your current situation? Ok, close Word and head back to the brainstorming board until you find a topic that you feel passionate about writing.
However, if you are convinced that you have something valuable to say, but just can’t seem to find the right words…
Publish a terrible article
A lot of the time, the reason that you just can’t find the words to write is because you are being too fussy.
Give yourself permission to write a post that may very well go down like a balloon filled with cold sick.
At the very least, you will have published an article and overcome your writer’s block. That’s a win for you, as you are unlikely to experience the same issues with your next post. You have just written a sacrificial article for the sake of moving past a mental obstacle.
Ignore the statistics page, take a deep breath, and move on.
But more likely, you will be surprised to find that it isn’t half as bad as you thought it was. Some of my most successful posts have been ones that I expected to flunk horrifically in the court of public opinion.
Even a post that gets one view is immediately more successful than not posting anything, as long as it is on a topic that you genuinely care about.
As Wayne Gretzky once said, you miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.