In the same way, that an insomniac finds it increasingly difficult to sleep as they fret about the steady approach of daylight, it's common for blocked writers to get more stifled as they become increasingly anxious about their lack of production. As a business blogger, it's not unusual to feel the pressure of audience expectations and unmet business needs as you stare at a flashing cursor on a blank screen.
Writer’s block is not an inability to write, though. It’s a failure to get excited about writing, and it’s not unusual for writer’s block to hit when you’re out of ideas.
The best way to deal with it is to combat it before it hits, but here are some tactics you can employ to generate ideas and revitalize your blogging, no matter at what stage of the process you find yourself struggling.
Create a Content Calendar
We’ve got plenty of advice about how to build a content or editorial calendar. If you don’t have one, re-read that chapter and take those steps now.
A core part of creating a content calendar is coming up with a handful of timeless ideas that you can use whenever inspiration fails to reach your desk at the same time as you. Add potential blogging ideas to your calendar, day and night. Use a note-taking system that syncs with your smartphone, such as Google Docs or Evernote, so you can write down ideas no matter where you are.
Nurture even the smallest ideas. You don’t have to have a vision for a 1,000-word blog post before an idea is worth writing down. Once noted, the most basic ideas can take on a life of their own. You may discover that two or more ideas can be combined, creating a whole new topic for a post or a blog series.
If you come up with a striking headline, write it down, no matter what the topic. Great headlines are blogging gold. You may be able to get more mileage out of it by adjusting it to suit different subjects.
Try a Title Generator
Since you're thinking about headlines, give a title generator a try. A title generator is a website on which you enter the subject of a potential blog post, and the generator's engine will suggest possible headlines, each one a possible angle for you to explore.
Using a title generator may seem like cheating. Don’t let that bother you. Playing with a title generator can be a quick way to get un-stuck.
Don't rely on a generator for your titles, but they are an acceptable tool for inspiration. You don't have to, and probably shouldn't stick to the titles that they come up with, but they can lead you into exciting areas to explore.
For an imagined percussion instrument company, we just came up with 'Shocking Ways Kettle Drums Will Make You Better in Bed,' '8 Things Your Mother Should Have Told You About Drum Heads' and 'What Will Drum Kits be like in 100 years?'
Blog posts needn't be dry or serious, particularly if you are managing to impart useful information in a fun, fresh and engaging way that helps you to stand out from the blog crowd. A great (or unusual) title can get your brain working and your blog moving, even if you decide not to run with that angle in the end.
Check out these title generators:
Read Related Blogs and Learn to Pickpocket Ideas
Think every viral blog post was a unique idea? Unlikely. Many great ideas piggyback on someone else’s ideas or thoughts on a topic.
An invention is closely aligned with innovation. There’s nothing wrong with reading someone else’s blog post and writing an article on the same subject. The internet is a big place, and there's room for your opinions on ongoing discussions. Sometimes you want to say something that a competitor has missed, and you may feel that they haven’t said enough, or you ought to write an article to agree emphatically or disagree with them.
Reading another take on a topic can suffice to get you fired up and writing again, so go ahead and try using an existing post to write your article, in your words, from your perspective.
The beauty of gathering up useful resources for your readers is that it doesn't require you to be at the top of your writing game to put out something valuable. Through content curation, you can gain the information you might find useful yourself and then share it to delight your readers and potential customers.
If you believe that the content is valuable, then you'll be able to write an engaging introduction to explain why you think so. Likewise, you'll be in a position to tie it up with a neat conclusion or take away at the end. The meat of the post, however, is mostly created already.
Collect stories on trending topics by ensuring that your most useful blogs and news sources are accessible via an RSS feed, Feedly and Digg being top examples and keep track of them with a bookmarking tool like delicious.com, evernote.com or scoop.it.
The ability to curate content is a great skill to have at times when you don't feel like creating something from word one.
Check in on Social Media
Social media is a doorway into the hearts, minds and psyches of potential customers. This is not as creepy as it might sound, especially if you're using social media in an authentic, genuine way. Which is better: a) creating something that nobody wants and using social media to get it in front of as many people as possible, or b) learning about customers via social media to better solve their problems and provide needed products and services to enhance their lives?
Browse Twitter and read current TweetChats to see what people are interested in right now. How might this topic relate to your field?
Scroll through your Facebook posts and take note of which posts your audience engage with the most. Review the analytics on your blog and see which posts are particularly popular.
Wander over to other blogs and you might find yourself compelled to comment. Don't fight it. You're writing again. Ask questions on other blogs to get a conversation going and feel how your motivation levels are increasing.
By being social, even from your desk, you'll get a feel of what others are talking about, what they’re saying, and how you might add your take to the mix.
If you're not sure what to write about or are worried that you’re not providing exciting enough content for your audience, you might ask them directly what they’d like to see next.
In a world of analytics and sales funnels, lead generators and auto-responders, it's possible to lose sight of the fact that social media has made it easier than ever to communicate with people. In the context of this section, we're specifically referring to asking questions and actively listening to the answers. Whether you're direct messaging a single customer or posting a question to an entire network of readers, the result is a two-way communication with one or more individuals. In other words, a conversation.
Here's an idea for a blog post. Write to tell your visitors how much you enjoy your interactions with readers and let them know that you’re happy to entertain suggestions for topics. By the time you've thanked respondents for their time and ideas, you might find that you're already inspired to act on their suggestions.
Read Relevant Q&A or FAQ Sites
Frequently asked question pages and Q&A sites can contain abbreviated or poorly articulated answers to the very questions that readers show the most interest. It's not unusual to find short, to-the-point responses that fail to go into any depth.
Which is where you come in.
Have a look at a couple of questions and answers that are relevant to your blog and you're likely to find subjects you’re capable, willing and even excited to write about in more depth and more detail.
You can tackle writer’s block by reading, exploring and engaging in conversations about ideas and news. If you're still not feeling fired up, maybe you've temporarily burned out.
If you've tried all the tips in this chapter and you still feel like throwing your computer keyboard from a moving car, back away from the keyboard and screen - they're your friends - and give yourself some space.
If you're feeling lethargic, get out and take some exercise. Walk, run, skip or hop to get your heart pumping and your blood circulating.
If exercise is decidedly undesirable, not possible or you've returned from a jog on your hands and knees, now might be the time to catch up on sleep. Set an alarm for 30 minutes to an hour away and let go.
Napping during the day doesn't mean that you can stay up later that night and power through your blogging. Try to maintain a healthy sleep routine, with a regular sleep time and wake time, in order to keep your mind sharp when you need it to be.
Doing something peaceful and pleasurable, away from your working environment, can be refreshing for your mind. If you like to read, take it out to a coffee shop, so you're away from your workplace.
Are you hungry? Should you be? Do cornflakes really count as breakfast, lunch AND dinner? Your body and mind need fuel to function, so you'll be doing yourself a service by taking breaks to drink water and eating healthily during the day.
Sometimes you just need a break. You may feel that sitting at your computer for long periods doesn't merit a rest, but generating ideas and writing them up is mentally taxing. Listen to your body and make sure you get enough downtime, exercise and healthy food to function at your best everyday.