Ever have a day where you tell yourself, “I’m going to write a blog post today”? You’re all gung-ho, raring to go. Can’t wait to sit down and write.
Your behind hits the seat, you open your laptop, fingers poised, only to find yourself staring at the blank page. And staring. And staring.
Not a single blog topic idea to be had.
You Know It Happens
If you say this never happens to you, I’ll be compelled to, respectfully, call you a liar. At the very least, you’re in denial.
Because the truth is, every writer experiences this from time to time. Maybe lots of times to times.
We know a post or article is overdue and we need to get one out to our readers before we metaphorically fall off the face of the earth, but our well is dry.
What to do?
Some Of My Best Tips To Keep The Till Full
Here are a few tips that have worked for me when I’ve found myself up the blog post stream without a topic paddle:
1. Just start writing.
Anything. Anything at all. Just start getting words on the page. I’m not sure why this simple step often seems so daunting, but it does. Somehow we feel we have to have an enormously profound topic and nothing we think of passes muster. And we become paralyzed.
Let me tell you about a really great invention. It’s called the backspace button. Aha! You knew about it already. I sort of thought so.
So why, knowing you can simply erase what you write if it displeases you, do you remain sitting like a statue?
Just write. Get started. Get moving. Get unstuck.
It always surprises me to find that once I start, ideas begin to flow. One might think the catalyst is in the tips of my fingers. And here I thought it was my brain. Huh. Who knew?
The point is, once you unstick yourself by just writing, inspiration often comes. Almost by magic, words and thoughts begin to flow. And if you don’t like them, well, there’s always that backspace button.
But more often than not, the simple act of starting to write kickstarts your brain and imagination.
2. Write when passion hits you.
This one is not always possible, if you don’t happen to be in a situation where you can simply start writing. But I cannot tell you how often I’ve planned out my morning tasks, only to be thunderstruck with a great idea. When that happens, all bets are off and I put aside my planned activities in favor of writing.
This is when writing is the most fun. It’s as if the words are already there and you’re simply the conduit through which they’re flowing. Your blog post or article practically writes itself.
Now, granted, this is not to say that you won’t have to go back and edit and fine-tune and polish. Sometimes I all but rewrite the dang thing because what seemed so utterly thought provoking and perfect turns out to actually be pretty rough. But that’s okay.
That’s why I don’t publish immediately.
In fact, what I usually do is write a first draft, often very quickly. Just get it out there. I put it away and do other things, then come back to it later. Usually several hours later. Sometimes the next day. That way I’ll see the flaws and rough areas that I missed on the first pass.
The point is, get it out there. Get it written down. Get it out of your head.
Then go back and polish and fine tune.
3. Have a swipe file of topics at hand.
This has been a huge lifesaver for me more than once.
First, if I do get an inspirational hit, but I’m not in a position to be able to sit down and write, if I put it in a swipe file for future reference, it’s there the next time I want to write a post and find myself staring at that dreaded blank page. It may not feel as inspired as it did at the time it hit, but it refreshes my memory and gives me a topic to work with.
Then, as in Tip 1 above, the simple act of just getting started is enough to get the juices flowing. But if I hadn’t written it down beforehand, the idea may have been lost completely.
I use an app on my iPhone called Awesome Note for this. It syncs to Evernote as well, if you prefer that tool, or want to use both, as I do. But it’s very easy for me to capture thoughts and ideas in Awesome Note no matter where I am when they hit. If you have an Android, it’s Galaxy Note. Great tool for remembering ideas and capturing notes.
On my computer, I actually have files I’ve created where I place documents with ideas and notes.
The point is, keep your ideas handy so you have a running list of topics for the future.
4. Read other blogs.
Sometimes my best ideas come from reading someone else’s blog. I stumble across something that sparks an idea or a thought on a topic that I know my readers will be interested in and I go and write my own post, from my own perspective.
If all I wanted to do was share the info, I would simply share the link, which I often do.
But sometimes the blog post gives me my own fresh idea to run with and I’ll use that to write my post. I got the inspiration elsewhere, but it sparked my own unique post. This is not stealing. It’s getting inspiration.
Read. Read a lot. Everything you hear and see has the potential to spark an idea that you can run with. It’s pretty hard to live in a vacuum and be able to come up with fresh ideas.
Ideas come from everything around us, and as a writer, they’re part of your toolbox. The more you’re exposed to others’ content, the more content of your own you’ll have.
It works. Believe me. It’s saved me more than a few times.
5. Keep your writing habit well oiled.
Like anything, if we don’t do it for a while, we get rusty. We fall out of the habit and we stop writing consistently. Before we know it, days, weeks, or even months go by and we realize we’ve written zip.
For a blogger, that’s not good, to state the obvious.
To keep you skills sharp, you have to use them. Let them sit, and it will be like the piano sitting in my living room. It’s been there for over 30 years, but in the past 20, it has been little more than a piece of furniture.
Yes, I used to play. One day I just sort of stopped.
I was taking a break, I told myself.
Well, it’s 20 some odd years later and that break hasn’t ended yet.
And sometimes I think, “I should start playing again.” But I know how rusty I am and how hard it will be. I sigh and walk away. Again.
Maybe one of these days I’ll actually sit down and try to play. But this is what happens when you let yourself fall out of a habit.
It can be very hard to get back up and start again.
So keep your skills sharp, keep your writing going.
Use the backspace button when you must.
But write. And write. And write some more.
Because you’re a writer. And you gotta write.