a guest post by Joe Pawlikowski
It happens to us all. We sit down at the computer to write our daily blog post, and our fingers just don’t move. For many writers there is plenty of support for this. After all, writer’s block has been around as long as writing itself. But it’s a different situation for bloggers, and especially for niche bloggers. While some of the time-tested advice holds up, much of it won’t help the everyday blogger.
When you do find yourself stuck without an idea, you can try these methods to make a breakthrough. If one doesn’t work, move onto the next. At the very least you’ll get the creative juices flowing. At the very most you’ll come up with not only an idea for your next post, but your next 15.
1. Break out the yellow legal pad. It might seem obvious, but the single most effective way to come up with new post ideas is to actively think about them. This works with a Notepad document, but I’ve always preferred to scribble my brainstorming sessions, as to change the writing medium. Begin by writing down one thing associated with your niche. For example, for my BlackBerry site I might write “BlackBerry cases.” Then I’d write down different things associated with cases. Then I’d make a column for BlackBerry themes and start listing app ideas.
The idea is to create a list filled with words that fit within your niche. Look over the list, and you’re bound to find multiple combinations that turn into a post idea. From the above, I might get something like, “Matching your BlackBerry theme to your case.”
2. Change the medium. As I said above, I prefer to use a yellow legal pad and pen while brainstorming. But sometimes the idea isn’t the problem. Sometimes it’s actually writing the article. In that case, I turn back to the yellow legal pad. Writing longhand can change the tempo of your writing, which changes the pace at which your brain thinks. Another option: write on your smartphone. I often break out my BlackBerry Bold and start typing a post with my thumbs. It’s tough to do an entire post this way, but changing the medium can at least change the way you approach the problem.
3. Add music. Sometimes you just need a different type of stimulation to get the creative juices flowing. It might be time to flip on Spotify or open your iTunes library and add music to the equation. I always recommend either classical music, because it’s wordless and structured, or something very familiar. If you put on something unfamiliar you might turn your focus to the music, which is the opposite of the effect we want to achieve. The idea is to get a different part of the brain firing, and that works well when listening to something familiar.
4. Do a logic puzzle. If you have a few minutes to spare — and not everyone does — you can try doing a logic puzzle, such as the ones at logic-puzzles.org. For those unfamiliar, you basically get a set of four or five people and three traits. You have to match the people to the traits, using the clues provided. The process of logical deduction can get your brain stimulated in the same way music can. In fact, listening to music while doing a logic puzzle has helped me bust through multiple bouts of writer’s block.
5. If you can, walk away. Common writer’s block advice is to put down what you’re doing and take a walk. Unfortunately, many of us do not have that kind of time. And if we do, we certainly don’t have time to take the walk and then come back to start all over again. But in some cases we don’t have to post every day. It helps a ton, for sure, especially for younger blogs. But if you’ve been good for a while and simply need a day off, take it. Just make sure you come back the next day ready to brainstorm and write a few days’ worth of posts. After all, you don’t want to skip another day next week.