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.
#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?
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.
#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.
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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.
#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.
Remember to visit sites that inspire you to take you in new directions and kindle your creativity.
#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.
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.
#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.
#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.
#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.
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Look through Listly's topic tabs to find great sources of inspiration.
You can also start your own lists of links to articles you come across in research for articles you are working on.
#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.
#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 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.
Find a few podcasts that appeal to you and take advantage of your commute time to learn something new you can write about.
#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.
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.
#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.
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.
#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.
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