26 Tips for Overcoming Bloggers Block

social media how toDo you create written content?

Have you struggled getting that blog idea written?

While most of us aren’t immune to writer’s block, there are ways to work through the block until the words flow again.

In this article, we’ll discuss 26 Tips, an A-Z guide for bloggers to overcome writer’s block and generate new ideas.

#1: Add Alerts to Find Fresh Content

Google indexes thousands of articles every day and it’s a safe bet that at least one of them has information relevant to your business.

Sign up for Google Alerts and you can add and delete alert topics at any time based on projects you’re working on.

Include keywords relevant to your blogging goals in your alerts and the updates you receive will point you to content you might not otherwise come across on your own.

Google Alerts help you find articles that spark ideas for your own content.

google alerts

Google Alerts deliver great content ideas.

#2: Backtrack Your Blog History

You’re not a newbie blogger. Have you lost sight of where you’ve come from and what you’ve learned along the way?

Revisit your first blog post. Also consider downloading your Twitter archive to view your first tweet and use Statigram to find your first share on Instagram.

You’ll not only see a progression in the industry since you’ve started, you can also post about your own progression by revisiting updates about your early experiences.

Your past can serve as grist for the content mill.

instagram post

A first Instagram post.

#3: Cultivate Inspiration With Classes

It can become difficult to find new ways to rehash the same subject matter over and over. Online webinars and in-person events are a great way to immerse yourself in new developments and directions.

Check out upcoming webinars and events in your industry to spark new energy that leads to content creation.

Take a class or attend a webinar to learn something new that can help you climb out of your writing slump.

#4: Determine Deadlines to Make You Accountable

Writing takes time and it can become all too easy to put the task off. Due dates, even self-imposed due dates, force you to focus on completing an article.

Rather than picking a date far in the future, commit to a deadline that will arrive sooner than later.

Time marching on may be the spark that will get you started again.

deadline

A deadline can be your friend. Image source: iStockPhoto.

#5: Engage in Groups on LinkedIn

It can get rough when you’re the sole source of content. That’s where networks can come in.

LinkedIn groups give you a place to ask questions and share information on topics of common interest with other group members. You can see what people talk about and use the information or trends you spot as a writing prompt to help get you started on a new piece of content.

For example, members in the Social Media Marketing Networking Club on LinkedIn may be talking about what apps social marketers find most successful for managing multiple social media accounts, and you have a lot to say on the topic.

Use your comments from within a group as a jumping-off point for a new article or blog post.

#6: Familiarize Yourself With Your Followers’ Preferences

Do you know what people expect and hope to find in content from your business or organization?

Reach out to a few friends and faithful followers, and ask them why they regularly follow your business blog. What made them decide to follow and what do they hope to learn from your site?

Their answers will get your mind moving toward a theme for new content pretty quickly.

#7: Gain Inspiration From Sources You Follow

Your content well might be dry, but there’s no shortage of great material from online sources. Almost any article, even a past one, can point you toward new ideas, writers and resources to explore.

Spend time reading any back articles or newsletters you may have missed, follow their links and dig deeper. Don’t think of surfing the Internet as a waste of time. Instead, look at it as a necessary part of the research you need to do as a blogger.

For example, you may find inspiration on Brain Pickings by Mari Popova.

Remember to visit sites that inspire you to take you in new directions and kindle your creativity.

read missed tweets

Take the time to read tweets you may have missed earlier.

#8: Hit the Books

You can’t rely on short snippets and articles to provide a steady diet of knowledge for your mind. Books allow writers to give you more complete thoughts.

Books are great resources for educating yourself and they can be invaluable when you are stuck as a writer.

For example, David Meerman Scott’s fourth edition of The New Rules of Marketing and PR has great examples to reference in articles on marketing.

david meerman scott book

Social media books provide a wealth of inspiration.

If words fail you, read a new book. While you’re reading, use the week to connect with the author on social networks then send him or her a tweet, a message on Facebook or an email about your interest in an interview about the book for an upcoming article you’re working on.

#9: Inspect Infographics

For many, the data and information we receive about our industry seems tedious and difficult to understand. Quality infographics simplify that information and present it in an easy-to-understand format.

To find relevant infographics, Google the topic you’re writing on; for example, iOS7 infographics. You can also search a network such as Pinterest, where you’ll find infographics on every topic under the sun.

Use the data points you find to jump-start your writing.

google search

Search for infographics on Google.

pinterest search

Find infographics on Pinterest.

#10: Jot Down Ideas

Sometimes good ideas come easily but they don’t tie together.

As Stephen Leacock wrote, “Writing is no trouble: you just jot down ideas as they occur to you. The jotting is simplicity itself—it is the occurring which is difficult.”

Whether it’s a simple paper notepad or a mobile note-taking app, having a place to keep track of ideas as they come to you is a great help during dry periods in your writing.

Try a combination of paper Moleskine notebooks with pens or pencils and Evernote to keep track of your ideas. When you’re blocked, read through your notes and you’re sure to find a thread to follow.

#11: Keep Your Eyes on Your Readers’ Questions

Often, articles you think are complete bring forward more questions than you anticipated.

For instance, the article Instagram for Business generated a number of questions from readers in the comments section.

Examples of questions from readers:

  • How do I get my business Instagram page to link to my business Facebook page rather than my personal Facebook page? It seems to automatically link to my personal page and I don’t see any other options.
  • Just want to double check if we can paste the links of our websites on the posts through Instagram.
  • What types of businesses would do better on Instagram? If my site targets an older crowd (55+), should I bother with Instagram?

You can rest assured that if one reader had the question and took the time to post it, others will benefit from an article that answers it.

Based on the three questions above, you could write an article that addresses how to link Instagram to your Facebook page, what Instagram’s policies are about the use of website links and the demographics that may make the most sense for creating a business presence on Instagram.

Find your content answer in the questions.

readers questions

Questions can help stimulate ideas for future articles.

#12: Learn From Listly

At one time or another, everyone runs through their own curation resources. Where do you find new, reputable ones to learn from without spending too much precious time on the search?

Listly says “Lists = ranking. List posts = traffic. We help bloggers and brands curate, crowdsource and engage readers via live embedded list content inside blog posts.”

To tune into trending topics, go to the home page where you’ll find trending lists organized by All, People, Places, Apps, Media and Resource.

In the example below, Top Tips for Driving Traffic to Your Blog, started by Denise Wakeman, users can add an article to the list or choose to scroll down the list and find articles of interest.

Look through Listly’s topic tabs to find great sources of inspiration.

denise wakeman on listly

Use Listly to find articles of interest to you.

You can also start your own lists of links to articles you come across in research for articles you are working on.

listly

Listly is a great way to keep track of lists and links.

#13: Mobilize Your Readers

Mobile has become an increasingly important medium for marketers and their customers. Your customers may be spending a good part of their day on an iOS or Android mobile device.

Explore new apps to provide content and direction for your next blog post. Share discoveries with your readers who are looking to find similar tools.

mobile search

Share your recent mobile app finds in an article.

#14: Note This Post for Later

We all think we’re invincible.

You may not identify with writer’s block now, but if you’re a writer, it’s fair to assume that at some point down the road writer’s block will happen to you.

Never say never. Keep this list in your back pocket.

#15: Offer Personal Stories

You can run out of ideas for reports and how-to articles. Personal insights can give you a much-needed respite from churning out drier content.

Mark Schaefer’s story about his “Go Steelers!” tweet is one of my favorite social media stories. You can read about it in his book, The Tao of Twitter.

Mark sums up the experience this way: “Connections + meaningful content + authentic helpfulness = business benefits.”

Share your own personal story or one you’ve heard about that emphasized the power of social media marketing to you.

#16: Practice Consuming Material On-the-Go

Time is a resource and it’s a fact that reading takes time. Many of us just don’t have the time it takes to read the books and articles we need to keep our minds full of new knowledge.

Podcasts are information-packed recordings on topics you listen to on your own schedule and replay to your heart’s content. If you spend precious hours of your day behind the wheel of a car or on a local express bus, listening to podcasts will be a dream come true.

There are many great podcasts on iTunes and TED Talks where you can find thought-provoking insights to inspire your writing.

Find a few podcasts that appeal to you and take advantage of your commute time to learn something new you can write about.

social media podcast

Social Media Examiner's Michael Stelzner helps your business navigate the social jungle with success stories and expert interviews from leading social media marketing pros.

#17: Quote Others

At times, your own words can fail to drive home the point you want to make. Quotes from others come in very handy when this happens.

You can search for quotations on websites and find them in material you come across everyday online and offline. Just be sure to provide proper attribution to the author.

Louise Bugglin Myers put together a helpful list of best quote sites on Listly, and many other useful lists including FREE Resources to Make Picture Quotes.

Quotations provide additional perspectives that can help you flesh out your written work and, in some cases, they can serve to point you toward content ideas.

#18: Refocus in a Coffee House or With Sound Apps

Familiar surroundings comfort some but for others, they can dull the senses and the brain. That’s when you should take things outside the office.

If you’re fortunate enough to get your piece started at the coffee house, but need to tune out the background, there are some very cool ambient sound apps for focus and creativity.

Try a change of scenery or ambient sound to refocus your mind and recharge your writing. Check out Coffitivity for ambient sound.

calm and commotion

Enough noise to work. Image source: Coffitivity

#19: Set Realistic Goals

When you’re blocked, the prospect of conceiving and completing articles can seem overwhelming.

Goal-setting may not immediately turn around a blogging block, but if your goals are realistic, they can help keep your mind in the game until inspiration dawns.

Realistic goals can reduce intimidating projects into achievable pieces.

#20: Test-Drive an Idea

In writer circles, you may have come across this much-used quote by American writer William Faulkner: “In writing, you must kill all your darlings.”

At times that may be as simple as deleting a sentence that doesn’t serve the piece. Or you could be nearing the end of an article you spent a lot of time conceptualizing and writing, only to come to the realization that it’s not doing what you hoped it would do.

Sometimes you need to test-drive your ideas, and don’t assume they’ll all be good ideas. Are you prepared to kill some of your darlings?

#21: Unplug and Regenerate

Writing is hard when you’re all tapped out. If you’ve gotten so caught up in your online life that words just slip away, it may be time to unplug, get off the grid and regenerate.

There are some wonderful stories about this—a recent one from Baratunde Thurston about his #unplug experience.

unplug

Find some peace and quiet to recharge you mind. Image source: iStockPhoto.

Take time to get away from the incessant buzzing of online chatter and just maybe you’ll find your voice in the quiet.

#22: Visit Your Blog’s Description

Your blogging can change and as you learn more, it’s easy to step outside your niche. The problem is that too many content possibilities can make it difficult to commit to one.

Recently, I came across a page of business blog listings in the print copy of the Boston Globe. One of the most terrific parts of the list was seeing how businesses described their blog.

Read through the description of your own blog. How clearly does the description define the parameters of your blog? Do the titles of your articles show that you are covering a clear niche for readers?

Review your blog and other networking profile descriptions to find where a missing content piece would fit into your objectives for your site. Now write that article!

#23: Widen Your Horizons

There are times when you need to branch out and try different types of blog posts.

Find new ways of sharing your knowledge and reach new readers with a how-to guide, a link roundup, an infographic, a list of tips or a podcast.

Use your readers’ responses to one format over another as helpful insights to help you create posts when you’re blocked.

#24: eXpose Yourself to Research Studies

Research findings make excellent topics and references for articles.

Use insight from Nielsen’s recently published SocialGuide Insights: Commercial Breaks Aren’t Twitter Breaks to support a correlation in your industry.

Find out who is doing research relevant to your industry and take steps to see the reports when they’re first released. Use the findings as content prompts.

#25: YouTube Channel Subscriptions Deliver

Videos tell a great story in a short period of time.

Subscribe to a variety of channels on YouTube and take advantage of the stimuli the videos provide via voiceovers, music visual communication and colors to trigger ideas for your own content.

youtube channels

Subscribe to YouTube channels and receive updates about content you're interested in.

#26: Zap Exhaustion

When you’re tired, everything is more difficult.

Sleep plays an important role in learning, memory, creativity and insights. The video Why Does My Brain Sleep? describes the benefits of sleep.

Get a good night’s sleep to help bring fresh perspective to your writing.


Check out this video on Why Does My Brain Sleep?

Over to You

There’s no denying that writer’s block can be difficult to overcome.

There are no tried-and-true cures for everyone, but these tips might just be the nudge you need to overcome your blogging block.

What do you think? Are there any tips you might consider trying? What has been helpful for you in the past? Please leave your comments below.

Images from iStockPhoto.

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

About the Author, Debbie Hemley

Debbie Hemley is a freelance writer and social media coach. She helps businesses develop and maintain social media content strategies. Follow her on Twitter @dhemley & Facebook. Other posts by »




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  • http://www.EntrepreneurOnFire.com/ John Lee Dumas

    Sometimes writer’s block hits even the most passionate bloggers. There is more
    than enough variety here in your tips that no matter what your style or
    routine is, there’s something here to help. Thanks for this Debbie!

  • deb1221

    You’re welcome!

  • http://www.BeVisibleAssociates.com Betsy Kent – BeVisible

    I used to depend on Google Alerts, but I noticed a few months ago that I stopped receiving them. A search brought me to this article…seems they are broken. Are you still getting them? http://www.forbes.com/sites/kashmirhill/2013/07/30/google-alerts-are-broken/

  • http://blog.wishpond.com/ Adella @ Wishpond

    Hi Debbie. Great tips! I totally agree with #1. One more idea about finding new content is using Feedly, an RSS reader app. Personally, I love Feedly’s Popular section, which shows you the most popular content in your feeds – this makes it easy to find new, trending content.

  • deb1221

    HI Adella, Thanks for your suggestion of using Feedly. I haven’t used that and will check it out. Thanks too for reading. Best, Debbie

  • Dan Shure

    Just today ironically Moz added Fresh Alerts to Fresh Web Explorer, which they are saying is like Google Alerts but better.

  • http://www.d4deepan.blogspot.com/ Deepan Siddhu

    Amazing tips. Now I can start working on my new blogging calendar.

  • http://www.splitfeathers.blogspot.com Trace A. DeMeyer

    Fantastic tips!

  • Kimberly A. Kline

    I love these tips – and I will be sharing your article for sure! It is, without a doubt, difficult to break through a dry spell. Sometimes ideas flow (and I am sure to jot them down for future blog posts), but other times I wonder what in the world I am going to write about next! I will be using some of your suggestions for those down times. Thanks!

  • http://www.christiankonline.com Christian Karasiewicz

    Nice collection of tips! I especially like #21.

  • deb1221

    Hi Dan, Thanks for the info. Will check it out. Best, Debbie

  • deb1221

    H Deepan, Thanks for reading–hope the calendar goes well. Best, Debbie

  • deb1221

    Thanks!

  • deb1221

    Thanks, Kimberly. It’s good to know–we’re not alone. Best, Debbie

  • deb1221

    Hi Christian, I spent a few days this past summer off the grid. After I got through the jitters and automatic reflexes of not reaching for my phone every other minute, it was quite fantastic! Best, Debbie

  • http://sproutsocial.com/features/social-media-engagement Sarah @ Sprout Social

    Great stuff, Debbie. I think #3, attending conferences/classes, is super important. No matter how much you may think you know on a certain topic, there’s always more to discover or a different perspective. #6, familiarizing yourself with followers’ preferences, is also key! Another way to easily figure out what your fans want to read about is to group the ones you’re targeting in a Twitter list, then read the blogs they’re sharing. #17 is great too – as quoting is just repurposing others’ ideas. Not much content is completely original, so feeding off of people you admire is a solid route more often than not.

  • http://www.christiankonline.com Christian Karasiewicz

    @deb1221:disqus, I did the same thing when I was in India for a few weeks this Summer. It was great – very refreshing.

  • deb1221

    Hi Sarah, Thanks for your comment. I agree. Attending conferences and classes and being around other people can be very inspiring. Writers work can be very solitary and hearing what other people are working on and care about can send us into some exciting new directions. Debbie

  • http://blog.tianakai.com/ Tiana Kai

    All really great ones! I find inspiration from comments, quotes and sometimes from my own curiosity. I’ve had to revisit my About page to refresh my thoughts with what I initially wanted to write about when I started my most recent blog. It’s helped me focus!

  • deb1221

    Hi Tiana, Great points. Our own curiosity is really powerful. Some times my interests can feel rather ecletic and then like a situation last week, I show up for a discussion of a new book about Infographics edited by Gareth Cook and find the audience packed. Who knew so many other people in my area are into Infographics. To curiosity! Best, Debbie

  • Nori Lee

    Thanks for the article. Great advice. I just started our company blog and still trying to figure out a fresh angle for our hardware store.

  • deb1221

    Hi Nori, Thanks for reading and commenting. Always a challenge.

    Sometimes I’ve found that reading content from businesses in the same industry (non-competitors) can help shed some light on what they’re doing well, where you think you can provide a more unique perspective and seeing what resonates most with your audience.

    Best of luck with your new blog. –Debbie

  • http://www.oddentitymedia.com/ Jon Armstrong

    How can your posts be so bad ALL THE TIME. I have yet to read a useful article in the past year on this site. At least make them entertaining.

  • http://indispensablemarketing.com/ Patrick McFadden

    My tip: write like you talk!

  • deb1221

    Thanks, Patrick.

  • deb1221

    Thank you, Jon for your feedback.
    I’m really interested to know what you hope to learn from the articles here on SME that you feel isn’t being delivered? What would be more useful to you? I really appreciate your thoughts.–Debbie

  • AmandahBlackwell

    Great tips!

    I jot down ideas in my smartphone’s text app and WordPress and on paper. I also read comments, ask readers of my blog questions; participate in LinkedIn groups and Twitter chats, and subscribe to newsletters, newspapers and magazines.

    I’d like to add that you could listen to the conversations around you and make a note of the ones you have with business colleagues, clients and customers. You could develop a couple of blog posts or series from a conversation.

    Thanks for the Listly recommendation. I’ll check out the website.

  • http://OneBoldMove.com/ Frank Gustafson

    Thanks for the great tips Debbie! I have really been struggling lately and your sage advice helps immensely! Now, off to put it into practice!!

  • deb1221

    Hi, Thanks for your contributions. Great point about the conversations with business colleagues, clients and customers. The static FAQ’s worked well in pre-social experiences and the kind of articles you’ve mentioned can be way more dynamic. Thanks for sharing. –Debbie

  • deb1221

    Thanks, Frank. Will be curious to hear what’s helpful for you. Best, Debbie

  • Nick DeCastro

    Great article! I’ll add #27. Encourage sharing your content. I did not stumble upon this article. It was shared to me because it is that good. And I’m about to do the same.
    Thanks!

  • deb1221

    Hi Nick, I’ll take it!

    And, so nice too that someone took time to share with you.

    If you’re interested, on the top of the page where you can “Join 225,000+ of your peers” you can enter your email to receive emails when new articles are published on the site.

    Best, Debbie

  • Nori Lee

    Thanks for the advice Debbie!

  • Sarah Bauer

    What a comforting list to have in the blogger’s back pocket! Great ideas here, including some that I hadn’t considered before (ex: #18, 22).

    Another way to break blogger block is to “Go Shopping” – aka, test drive a new product or service that is related to your niche subject, and write a review about it! It’s a great excuse to go shopping and offer your readership valuable insight.

    Thanks!
    Sarah Bauer
    Navigator Multimedia

  • deb1221

    You know, I like the sound of “go shopping.” Has a nice ring to it. Somehow I’ve never been in the right markets for others to go out of their way to support my good old fashioned shopping days!
    Best, Debbie

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  • Roderick Hunnicut

    thanks for sharing this informative information. nice tips and you’re truly inspiration.

  • deb1221

    Thank you, Roderick!

  • http://candidcastle.com/ RonaldWahome

    Thank you for the well thought out list. May I humbly add that It’s also easier to write away ignoring any mistakes and editing later.

  • deb1221

    Great point! Someone once told me that if you take a break while you’re working on a piece, go back to the last line you wrote and start there. For some reason many writers have the tendency to re-read the beginning again and will get caught up back writing instead of moving forward. Can’t tell you how many times I’m guilty of that! Thanks for the reminder!

  • Vanda

    Thanks a lot for this wonderful article. I am new in writing and I am still trying to find my voice in this huge sea of post and articles. Your article is one to keep I saved it for later.

  • http://www.onfiremediaonline.com/ ‘TC’ Teresa Clark

    Hey Debbie,

    Such an informative article on overcoming all the things that get in our way when trying to create content. I definitely agree that we need to widen our horizons and quote others. Here is something that I do that keeps my mind rolling on ideas when creating content.

    Brainstorm, brainstorm, brainstorm! Set aside a few hours to take a moment and speak with another entrepreneur. I refer to this as Creative Content Collaboration. This individual doesn’t really need to be from the same industry as you. Actually, another industry is sometimes better. Divide your time and work on making new content, not just modifying outdated content material. Try this on a regular basis to make certain that your content is always fresh. This is significant because most people neglect keeping content fresh on static items: websites, pamphlets, and sales sheets. These should be updated every 6 months.

    Thanks again for an insightful article,
    ‘TC’ Teresa Clark

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