Writer’s Block? 7 Ways To Get Past It.
It never fails – if you are a blogger, you will inevitably find yourself with writer’s block at some point. And it always happens when you want to hammer something out quickly. Maybe you find yourself short on time, overwhelmed with work, or simply unmotivated.
Whatever the reason, the show must go on! You have to figure out a way around writer’s block. After all, it’s a well known fact that businesses who blog are more successful than those that do not.
I have been generating content, writing articles, and blogging on various topics for well over a decade. When I wrote about sports, it was much easier to come up with topics. After all, there’s an endless stream of news items to take into account. But blogging about inbound and internet marketing is a much bigger challenge.
Some Reasons I Experience Writer’s Block when Blogging:
- There are thousands of other bloggers covering the same topics
- It takes much more to stand out
- I’ve already written about most topics in detail
- The target audience is getting oversaturated with content
- As my business grows, my attention is divided more and more by the day
- I want every piece to truly be remarkable and worthy of your attention
It’s funny, but I often need to remind myself of the advice I give clients. We all need to cut ourselves a break. Every post can’t be ground breaking. But they all need to be quality and engaging in voice. That’s something we all can accomplish without beating ourselves up in the process.
So in the spirit of “just get it done,” here are seven things to try when writer’s block gets the best of you.
1. Take a Break
Do you put a lot of pressure on yourself to keep a schedule and produce quality output? Welcome to the club. Most serious bloggers have the same issue.
Believe it or not, the best remedy to writer’s block may be to simply step away from the keyboard for a bit. Get some fresh air. Take a walk. Visit with a coworker, your spouse, or whomever is around. Meditate or take a short power nap. Figure out something to get off the computer and snap out of your funk.
Recent research showed that we should be taking 17 minutes of break time for each 52 minutes of work anyway, in order to reach our optimal productivity. If you’ve been hammering along for hours, then turn to your blog post, this could be the problem.
I’ve found that I sometimes do my best work away from the computer or office. My biggest “Aha!” moments can come any time – while driving, when taking a shower, while working on my garden, or during a run or bike ride.
The simple fact is that trying too hard can be counterproductive. So stop fighting and find another way. You’ll be surprised at how effective a short break can be for clearing your mind and coming back with a fresh perspective.
2. Brainstorm Ideas
Perhaps you already took a break, but the revelation never came. Or maybe you don’t have time to step away. In either case, you can try to push the envelope by brainstorming ideas.
There are many ways to go about brainstorming. Personally, I like to start with a broad topic and do some initial keyword research. If you have access to a good premium keyword research tool, you can uncover hundreds of possible targets for a post. Or use a free tool such as Ubersuggest to get ideas.
If you don’t have access to a keyword tool, don’t despair. Sit down with a pen and paper or blank Word document, and start typing whatever comes to mind. After you write out a few ideas, review them and see if they spur any additional ideas. Many of my best blog posts have come as ideas that were initiated based on another topic I thought of first.
Still not coming up with anything good? Take your broad topic and plug it into a blog topic generator. There are at least a dozen decent free tools available online. Many bloggers like to use the tools from HubSpot or Portent. Start with one of those and see if it helps get you moving.
3. Check the Trends
Given the recent announcement that Facebook’s news feed will depend more on trending topics, it makes sense to consider trends when fighting writer’s block.
- Watch what comes up as “Trending” on Facebook
- Look at the most popular hashtags on Twitter
- Search Google Trends by category
- See what hot news items are being covered on major media sites that cover your space
- Pay attention to what influencers in your field are talking about and sharing
I’m sure you have other ideas for identifying trends. You are only limited by your own imagination. If you have an idea, try it and see how it goes. You might find a secret topic source that most of us have missed. I won’t complain if you choose to share it back with us in the comments below!
4. Add to a Previous Topic
When all else fails, go back to the trough and eat again.
For those of us who have been blogging for a while, we should all have a good backlog of posts from which to draw ideas. Review topics you have already covered and think about whether they are still current.
Perhaps something changed in the industry that updates a previous view. Maybe the whole post is no longer valid – you should absolutely do an update and link the two posts to each other. Not only does this give you a new post, but updating the old post gives search engines a reason to crawl it again.
Maybe you learned something new and want to expand on the original topic. New platforms, measurement tools, and analysis tools come out all the time. Is there a better way to do whatever you covered previously?
This is a simple idea, really. Take an old topic, put a new spin on it, and roll that out in a new blog post. When in a pinch, this is a great way to jump on something you’ve already spent time understanding. That way, you can build out your new content faster and easier than with fresh new topics.
5. Piggyback Another Smart Blog Post
In the same vein, you can take another blogger’s ideas and build on them. Especially when the original post is research, case study content, or other unique findings, there’s always another level of analysis you can take.
Or alternatively, disagree with them. Sometimes, the best content is based on a heated debate. I’ve seen these fire up between bloggers in respectful and intelligent ways.
For example, take a look at The Myth of Google’s 200 Ranking Factors on Moz, which was a response to this post on the Backlinko blog. Take the time to read both posts as well as the discussion on the Gianluca Fiorelli’s post, and you’ll see how powerful this technique can be for stimulating debate.
6. Change it Up: Record a Video and Expand On it
If you simply can’t get moving with the written word, step out of your comfort zone and record video or audio. Pick a topic that you have a heavy interest in, and discuss something frustrating about it. Then you can expound on the contents of the video in the written part of the post.
This is a great strategy for several reasons. First, video content ranks well on Google. Regardless of the fact that video snippets are limited to only a few domains since July 2014, you can still take advantage of video SEO with good benefits.
Second, video helps with overall performance of your content. Why?
- Improves user experience as a whole
- Helps reach visitors who prefer video content over written material
- Increases likelihood of longer time on site
- Provides a premium asset that can be shared elsewhere, including YouTube
Finally, it’s not that hard to create video content. If you don’t mind a no frills approach, smart phones come standard with video capabilities today.
There are also many free and low cost online screen capture platforms. For example, give a look at Camstudio, which is the open source equivalent of Camtasia, minus some of the more premium features of the latter platform. Another good free option you might want to check out is Screenr.
7. When In Doubt, Just Start Writing
Of course, writer’s block can be pretty hard to shake sometimes. When all else fails, open up a word processor, start a new document, and simply start writing.
The downside to this approach is that you are almost guaranteed to create throw away content. It typically starts out unfocused and hard to follow. But if you keep writing until something starts to crystallize, you just might stumble on something magical.
I rarely begin writing without a clear topic in mind, but have used this approach at least a handful of times. In one situation, it was a complete crash and burn. I wrote for 20 minutes, reviewed it, and was disappointed that nothing came of it.
The other times were marginally-to-significantly effective at helping clear out the cobwebs. I ended up throwing away the materials I wrote during the exercises, but they led to better ideas. Once I had topics to pursue, it was much easier to outline and write the blog posts.
So when in doubt, get your fingers moving and start generating content. More often than not, it will pay off and help you shake that annoying writer’s block.
Writer’s block is frustrating, but it doesn’t have to be a complete productivity killer. If you get stuck, try out some of these techniques to clear your mind. They’ve all worked for me at one time or another.
How about you? What tricks have you used to get around writer’s block in the past?