Heading Off Writer’s Block

by Jennifer Good | October 6th, 2012 5:01 AM | No Comments

Writer's Block

As you can imagine, being in the same industry for over ten years can at times yield a significant amount of creative burnout. For bloggers who are expected to write frequently, this can also be a common problem. However, the flip side to not writing often is losing readers or potential customers. When things get stagnant, people lose interest. You don’t need to be innovative or unique, you just need to be excited about what you’re creating and be able to communicate that through your chosen forum. With that in mind, I thought that today I’d share some of my tips for pushing past creative blocks.

Tip #1 – Be prepared…

I love to be organized, but hate feeling “committed” to doing something. After talking with others, I’ve found that to be true for many other creative types as well. Unfortunately, this habit works against us as we don’t always take the time to plan ahead. A few years ago, I forced myself to really buckle down and commit to some admin tasks when it came to editorial issues. The result: I was able to triple the amount of content I produced in the same amount of time. Now, the first steps I take always involving planning.

Editorial Plans Are Awesome!
I swear by editorial calendars. It doesn’t mean I always use it, but for the times when ideas aren’t streaming out of my head, it’s a great fall back. The best thing about creating content calendars is that you can generate internal excitement for upcoming projects. This is great asset if you’re working with a team and can be treated almost like a product launch, especially for bigger projects or tasks. I know we’re talking mostly about content here, but I’d like to throw out a little reminder – product and marketing calendars are also just as useful.

Always have a way to record your ideas handy.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had amazing content ideas and had no way of recording my ideas. I was fairly certain in my recall ability and didn’t worry about it too much. Wrong idea! Now, I always make sure I have something or someone where I can store my ideas. I use an iPhone so the voice memo and notes apps are excellent for me when I’m on the go. Evernote stores everything else.

Tip #2 – Search for topic ideas constantly…

Creative blocks usually occur when you can’t find something to write about. The best way to handle this is to spend some time each day reading and talking about things in your field.

Forums and blogs are secret idea generators!
The best ideas come when you’re immersed in the culture of your industry. You can glean topic ideas from people’s posts, their responses, and what topics other bloggers are covering. A lot of times, I see a blog post or article and think of new ways to expand on the topic. Ta Da! A new blog idea just came into being. Even more often, looking over the comments to an article will start a creative spark.

Visit the library or bookstore.
There’s typically a vast amount of resources on any given topic in book form. Browse through a couple in your field and see if you discover any blog or article topics. Just because a topic has been covered somewhere by someone else doesn’t mean your own insights and perspectives into it aren’t just as valuable. If that were the case, there’d only be one book in every genre.

Answer questions.
Browse through some of the comments or emails you’ve received and see if any common questions are popping up. In the past, I’d take one day a week and write down every question that came in. I’d take the ones that were relevant and create one Q&A style article that answered everyone. If you don’t have enough e-mails to cull through, try viewing sites like Yahoo! Answers for ideas.

Tip #3 – Think like your reader…

When you write on the same topic every day, it’s easy to feel like you’re becoming boring and repetitive, or that you’ve exhausted every topic. In most cases, this couldn’t be further from the truth. Your perspective is always going to be different, and it may be just the thing that someone else needed to hear. Don’t fall into the trap of invalidating yourself or your ideas.

Tip #4 – Rejuvenate Yourself…

Unfortunately, burnout does occur, and even through your best attempts, it can be just plain unavoidable. Your work, especially as an entrepreneur, is a significant part of your life. If something isn’t going right or you become unhappy, you need to find new ways to reinvent or rejuvenate yourself.

Take 24 hours off…
Sometimes the best way to get back into the swing of things is to make a complete disconnect with your work life. That means no phone calls, no emails, no blog reading. Take a day to go do something fun and relaxing and put the work cycle on hold for awhile. The best way to approach this is to pick your day and make sure you let co-workers or team members know of your plans ahead of time. That way they won’t freak out that you’re not responding or try to contact you.

Plan social breaks throughout the week…
Those work lunches do more than just help you network. Being around other like-minded individuals can help motivate and inspire you to action. Plan to meet at least one to two people each week that really motivate you. Even if all you can both manage is a phone call, it really pays to have someone to bounce ideas off of and help keep you focused and motivated.

These are a few of my ideas. What do you do to stay motivated?

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