You've undoubtedly heard of writer's block. Certainly Google thinks the definition is fairly straightforward. Blogger's block is the particularly insidious form of writer's block that impacts bloggers. It's not just plain old, everyday, vanilla writer's block, just in WordPress.
That's because the nature of professional blogging itself is different. The frequency of publication plus the specialized nature of content marketing creates a unique set of pressures that can kill creativity and stop the flow of words. And it requires a fresh approach if you want to stop writer's block from killing your blog. Here are some ideas to deal with creative blocks:
- Keeping the blogging ideas flowing
- Think in systems and tasks
- Forget about inspiration
- Loosen up to find new inspiration
- Change your context
- Stop thinking about blogging
- Do a little critical analysis
- Accept a challenge
Keeping the blogging ideas flowing
One possible source of blogger's block is a dearth of ideas. But for most bloggers, coming up with the ideas themselves isn't so much the problem — it's remembering them once they occur to you. The only cure for this is to get in the habit of writing them down as soon as they occur to you.
Noting down blogging ideas when they come to you requires one input storage solution, whether that's analog (a notebook, for example) or digital (an app like Evernote or OneNote, or some other app on your smartphone). Whatever works for you is fine; the key is consistency and having it always with you. That way you can keep track of your blogging ideas and prevent writer's block.
Think in systems and tasks
While there is no universal cure for writer's block, there are things you can do to work more efficiently. For example it's very important to create a blogging workflow and organized system for content creation; divide the task into all the component tasks and create a template you can copy and paste into your to-do app, such as:
Thinking of the process like this, as opposed to the vague and generic “I have to write a blog post”, helps you tackle the project in smaller bites. Starting one post with a fast 15-minute outline isn't nearly as terrifying as writing a whole post, so you're not quite so intimidated.
Start small, and before you know it, you're putting the finishing touches on another great post. You can have a few items in outline stage, a few posts being researched, a few drafted and ready for editing / proofreading, etc. With an organized workflow blogging will be so much easier.
Forget about inspiration
Admittedly, it's a great feeling when the muse strikes. We feel connected to something bigger than ourselves, and experience a surge of energy that helps us fly through the writing. Yet creativity doesn't depend on inspiration.
In fact, many professional writers and bloggers report that they're most creative when they stick to a schedule and stop obsessing about the ephemeral concept of inspiration. Constraints, discipline, routines — these things actually help you break through blogger's / writer's block. Write despite your muse's absence, and ironically, you'll find yourself feeling more inspired.
Loosen up to find new inspiration
Sometimes, writer's block is really about perfectionism. Nobody wants to screw up, of course, but some of us have higher expectations of ourselves than are reasonable, especially right out of the gate. Give yourself permission to write a completely awful first draft.
Write that draft without any editing. Don't worry about spelling, punctuation, or even profanity. Don't even concern yourself with making sense. You can edit your post later. But in the beginning, allow yourself the freedom to get deeply real with your words.
Change your context
Sometimes, all we need is just a shift in context. Switch up how you're writing. For instance, if you usually write in Google Docs, try Scrivener or Pages. Try increasing the font size, or changing the font entirely (just for drafting purposes). Explore a distraction-free writing environment.
If you always start your drafts on the computer, why not try writing by hand? You don't have to tackle a full draft — maybe just start with a summary outline. Think about changing your physical environment, as well. Sometimes a change of scenery is all you need. If you normally write at home, take your laptop to a coffee shop or a bookstore. Or take a short trip on a bus or train, writing on the way. This can help you get creative again and stop writer's block.
Stop thinking about blogging
Sometimes, the problem isn't so much the blogging but the thinking-about-the-blogging. If you're feeling a little obsessed, clear your mind. Stop thinking about this problem by diverting yourself. You can do this with anything that's fun or constructive:
- Play a game or meditate.
- Wash the dishes. (In fact, cleaning your physical environment is a great way to help alleviate creative blocks. It's hard to concentrate when you're surrounded by clutter and chaos.)
- Watch a favorite TV show but put up the laptop while you do. Focus wholly on the show.
- Get some physical exercise. Even a short walk can help clear out the cobwebs.
Do a little critical analysis
Critiquing other people's blog posts (to yourself!) is a great way to get charged up about your own again. What works especially well? What can you try to emulate or improve on? It's especially helpful to analyze posts that generate tons of comments and shares. There are several ways you can approach this. In addition, improving your blogging skills can give you new energy and fresh ideas.
Accept a challenge
Challenging yourself in different ways can help free creativity by forcing you to make new associations between things you normally wouldn't consider together. Here are a few examples of challenges to get you started:
- List the first three items your eyes happen to fall on. Now, write headlines incorporating those items in some way. For example, if you see a refrigerator, you could generate headlines about “cold emailing prospects” if you're in the internet marketing niche, or “what to do if you freeze up” if you're writing about public speaking and presentation tips.
- Browse through the nearest magazine's cover. Rewrite each of the headlines to match your niche. For example, “50 Ways to Please Your Lover” could become “50 Ways to Please Your Reader” if you're blogging about writing.
- Open a book to any random page. Select the fourth complete sentence on the left-hand page. Turn some portion of that sentence — a word, a phrase, or underlying meaning — into a headline or premise for your next blog post.
The idea is simply to set yourself a small but challenging goal that takes you completely outside your usual context, then let it inspire you. It's a good way to teach yourself that inspiration isn't something that's wholly outside of you that happens to you in unexpected, unpredictable ways.
Conclusion: Stop writer's block with some easy strategies
Blogger's block, like writer's block, can be a frustrating experience. But you shouldn't let it stop you from creating great content. Therefore, change things up and keep the experience fresh so your brain is forced to adapt quickly. Have you been dealing with creative blocks before? What's your favorite strategy to beat writer's block? Share it in the comments below.