As much as I enjoy writing and blogging, I do occasionally get writer’s block (or blogger’s block) where I’m stumped for what to write.
Sometimes I struggle with forming an idea for a post at all and other times I have an idea but then can’t seem to get the main points across for what I want to say!
When writer’s block happens to me, I have a few strategies that I use for getting my brain into gear again, so I thought I’d share! The list below is probably most useful for bloggers looking for inspiration when writing new posts, but you could also use some of these tips if you’re writing other material too.
21 ways to overcome writer’s block
1. Write your ideas down when you think of them
Have you ever had an idea that you thought of in the morning but you totally forgot what it was later that day because you didn’t have a scrap of paper to write it down? I used to do this all the time. Now I carry a notebook with me and I also have a ‘brainstorm list’ set up on my computer that I add to whenever I think of something. I don’t always follow the idea through but even little notes I write spark off other ideas.
2. Read through your blog comments
If you have a blog, visitor comments can be a great source of inspiration as occasionally you might come across a point where someone has needed more clarification or where they have asked you to focus on something in the future. Blog comments can be a great source to tap into when writer’s block is setting in!
3. Ask someone you know for inspiration
I sometimes ask my husband for ideas about what to write about. He often looks at me blankly and shrugs his shoulders but once I start picking his brains, he usually mentions something that leaps out at me which I can write about! He’s also good at coming up with titles too. 🙂
4. Do a Google search
I often search through the internet most days anyway, so sometimes I’ll do a Google search about debt (my favourite topic of course)! By looking through the first few pages, I might find a few topics that I can relate to and write about from my own experience. Side note: don’t get too distracted though – it’s very tempting just to sit and read…
5. Write down every word you can think of relating to your subject
Putting 10 minutes aside to write down every word that springs to your mind about your main subject can be a great way to feed your writer’s block. Even the most unlikely words that you can think of may come in handy at later date when it helps you to form a writing idea.
6. Create a mind map
I do love a good mind map! I used to use these all the time during my last job and I still use them now. On a piece of paper, write down a potential topic or idea in the middle. Then branching outwards, list as many associated ideas, topics or even words that relate. Get colourful with it! If you’re a visual learner, you might think more creatively using visual techniques.
7. Take a break
Go for a run, do a little yoga, walk the dog – anything to take you away from your writing for a while. This can work wonders for writer’s block. Relaxing and detaching yourself for a while can provide you with that fresh burst of inspiration when you need it most.
8. Refresh yourself
I can’t write anything on an empty stomach. If I get writer’s block, I might grab a quick snack or a cup of tea and return to what I’m trying to write a bit later on. I’ve also found that having a cheeky glass of wine or something similar may also help get the creative juices flowing – not too many though otherwise you might be in danger of writing total drivel! By the way, on the whole, I’m still swapping wine for green tea.
9. Write a little every day
I like to post articles on my blog at least three times per week and I have a schedule that I stick to whenever I can (Mon, Wed and Fri). However writing on demand i.e. the night before I’m supposed to post something doesn’t work for me. I don’t want to feel under pressure to write because that just takes the fun out of writing!
So lately, I’ve been trying to write a little every day. I have lots of half started posts, I also just write my thoughts. Sometimes I only write for 20 minutes. It really does help! In fact, I did read somewhere that before starting a blog, you should write around 30 posts before you launch so that you have content to fall back on. That’s not something I did – but it sounds like a plan to me.
10. Write at your most productive time
After lunchtime, something happens to me mentally and physically and I struggle writing. It usually is just because I start feeling shattered as the day wears on – either way, I don’t very often write after this time because it doesn’t suit me.
My best time for writing is around 10am. I don’t usually get to write then though because I’m working most days. So instead I get up at 6am and write when my brain is most active and before my daughter wakes up. It’s no wonder that I’m totally shattered by lunchtime. Saying that though, if you feel like writing outside of your usually productive time, then go for it!
11. Write about a different topic
Sometimes, it’s nice to take a step back from your main subject and write about something else. Like today, I’m writing about this but I usually write about debt stuff. I had the idea for this post whilst I was writing one recently about debt free living, so I thought I’d just write it! If you’re suffering from writer’s block sometimes just writing anything at all is the hardest part. Which brings me onto my next point…
12. Just write anything. Then build on it.
When you have writer’s block, just writing anything can seem tricky sometimes. If you can think of a title, start there. If you can think of a section that you want to include halfway through whatever it is you’re writing, then write just that bit. Sometimes I write the end of a blog post before I write the beginning. Once you’ve started writing something, you can always build around it.
13. Don’t hit delete
Whilst we’re on the subject of just writing anything and building on it, don’t hit the backspace key. Don’t worry about spelling or grammatical errors, just write the content as you’re thinking it. Often the best stuff is written when you’ve allowed yourself the room to get your thoughts out of your head and onto your screen (or paper as the case may be).
14. Check your drafts folder
I have lots of half started blog posts in my WordPress platform and also in a Word doc on my laptop. When I get writer’s block, I go back and read through what I wrote previously. Sometimes I see something that I think could be added to or reworked and doing this often gives me ideas for future posts. (And sometimes I see started posts where I wonder if it was indeed me who wrote them!)
15. Research images
An image speaks a thousand words (so they say). Searching a stock image site using your main subject as a search term could bring up plenty of stock images which will spark off different ideas. Also images are usually tagged by keyword which you could use as a little brainstorm list.
16. Read the news
Read the newspaper or check out the news websites. If there’s something that interests you, you might be able to write your opinion about it or it might give you a related idea for what you can write about.
17. Go back through your most popular posts or written work
Going back and reading your most popular work gives you an insight as to what makes a good read. An idea may jump out at you in work you’ve already written. Or perhaps you lightly touched on a particular area but you’ve not yet elaborated on it.
18. Get social
Find out what’s trending in your niche on Twitter or Facebook. See what the people you follow are tweeting about. Don’t get too distracted though!
19. Think about what you would like to read
If you’re stuck for writing a blog post for example, have a think about what you’d like to read about at the moment. It might take a bit of research and fact finding, but once it’s done, you’ll be ‘in the know’ and the chances are other people will be too. This is how I ended up writing my post about swap websites.
20. Visit forums in your niche
Relevant forum threads don’t just make for interesting reading – you might find inspiration there too. I’m a member of the Money Saving Expert Debt Free Wannabe Forum and there’s always loads of interesting points every day which I could as a starting base for future posts.
21. Go through your ‘tags’ section in your blog
If you blog, you could look through your tags section for another source of ideas to write about. If you look at them as though they are just words, it’s effectively a nice little list which you’ve already brainstormed and can build upon.
I hope these ideas will be of some use to help you avoid writer’s block! Is there anything you’d like to add to this list?
I’ll be back tomorrow with a bonus post about my favourite Fun and Frugal DIY Valentine’s Gift Ideas. Why not subscribe to A Disease Called Debt by email and never miss another post?
*Image courtesy of FindYourSearch – Flickr – Stop the writer’s block. Copyright 2010 Corbis Corporation. **Image courtesy of Mode De Vie Software – Flickr – How to Mind Map with My Thoughts – Images have not been altered in any way.