How to beat writer’s block in your blog
Writer’s block is affecting you if your blog landscape looks colourless and uninteresting. We don't usually think of blog writers but authors going through deep trauma because they cannot write their great work of fiction.
When I worked in book publishing famous authors often failed to meet deadlines. In fact, I know of one agent who put the author up in a smart hotel and took each piece of paper as it left the typewriter and was pushed under the door.
In that situation the author was in fact the ticket to the agent’s money and success. You as a writer of a blog may not be anyone else’s chance of success: you are your own ticket to the life you want.
So can you get writer's block with a blog? Yes definitely. Participants on our courses often tell us how we helped them break through and write again.
So assuming that writer's block may strike you, here are some tips to help you manage or avoid it.
Beat writer's block by being accountable to someone.
You could get your own “literary agent”. Someone who will encourage you to write.
You can pay a coach. Join a writing group. Ask us to help.
Co-working to increase accountability
The best first step can be to connect with someone and have co-working sessions. When you are both focussing on something similar it is amazing how more productive you can be. At the start of the session you declare what you are planning to do. You work for a designated length of time, and then you check in at the end.
In this way you receive support and also give it which boosts confidence - often the important step on the way to writing.
It can also be effective to tell your "buddy" what you are intending to do even if you are not working together at the same time. This helps you to commit to a pattern of behaviour, like, say writing for 20 minutes each morning before starting the day.
The simple act of telling someone else, and being held accountable by them can be a big help in following through. Often we are less likely to let another person down, and this helps us to stick to our promises to ourselves.
Have a treasure trove of ideas you could write about
Writer’s block usually means you are burned out or bored.
The simple effort of coming up with a subject can feel exhausting, and puts you off from starting. When you have a bank of ideas to draw from it makes writing easier.
Your notebook or phone is the place for all sorts of ideas which can be the start of blog posts, emails, social media posts, podcasts, talks or even books. When you start recording anything you find interesting (without pre-judging whether or not you are going to use it), your brain and your focus becomes freed up to find more ideas.
The truth is that there are ideas all around. It is just a question of being open minded and having an attitude of curiosity.
What ideas could you find interesting?
Anything that relates to your industry, your sector and the bit of the world that your blog connects with. This can be legal issues, technical development, new surveys and attitudes or common practices. Whether things are well done or done badly can both be fascinating!
Questions that you have been asked by clients, readers or strangers. Knowing about what you do is often called "The Curse of Knowledge" because you can't remember what it was like before you knew it. Most of your readers will not be experts so responding to questions is an excellent way to realise what concerns they have.
Make the most of your life!
Random events from your life. So many clients say that they don't want to write about what they had for dinner in their blog or social media because nobody is interested. And they dislike it when other people do it.
This is perfectly valid! But there will be aspects of your life that are not about what you are eating which other people will find interesting. Very often these will be forgotten unless your write them down. What I suggest you do is make a quick note or take a photograph at the time.
This can be something you do regularly and don't often think about or
- overheard conversations
- something in a book you are reading purely for enjoyment
- a current film, tv show or song, news item
- your favourite book, film, play, song, place, time of day, meal (yes it got in there somewhere!), memory etc.
Later you can go back and you will discover that what you noticed does have a connection to what you write about in your blog. A way of looking at life, a principle or value that it precious to you.
This approach is perfect because you are not talking about the subjects you may have covered before, but unearthing something new and exciting which is an excellent way to beat writer's block.
Find a structure to your blog posts.
You can have a brilliant idea but then wonder how that would be relevant to your blog, which stops you moving forward.
The categories for your blog
We recommend that you have about 5 categories for your blog posts. This keeps things simple and clear. If you have hit writer's block there is a chance that you have outgrown the categories that you first decided on. As your blog develops different priorities often appear but your blog structure doesn't allow for this.
Look again at your categories and you may find that some have become irrelevant, but that you need a new category that allows you more variety. A category that is more light hearted or personal can fit with the theme of your blog and allow you to be more authentic.
Another way to keep writer's block at bay is to have a pre-planned content schedule. Some of the decision making is removed and you can plan ahead. So you have content to publish, but it does not stop spontaneity.
You could decide that on the first week of the month you write about a topic that is forward looking, and at the end of the month it is more reflective or backward looking. There is a national or international day week or month to celebrate a different topic all through the year. The days designated by the UN are the best known but there are many local and national days as well. You can plan ahead and incorporate these into a schedule or calendar.
At Attract Readers we encourage women to write a blog post they might not otherwise have written to acknowledge International Women's Day on February 8th each year.
Write. Write anything
Turn up and write while your mind is clear. Write anything at all.
Where you are, how you are feeling, write nonsense if necessary, but move your hand across the paper or your fingers on the keys. You can edit it later, but the simple act of writing will release the ideas in your brain.
I advise my clients to start " I am sitting .." or if they are very stuck they record into a phone while walking so they would start by saying " I am walking.."
You notice the place you are in, details you can see, hear, smell taste, touch. You get out of your head and don't give yourself anything difficult to do. Gradually it will all become easier.
Short time limit
Give yourself a short time to write. 10 or 15 minutes could be perfect. Then stop. You have achieved a lot! Go and do something else. Come back to read it later. You are keeping the critical part of your brain which can find fault like a heat-seeking missile away from the softer creative part of your brain which needs space not criticism.
A sense of ritual
One author I know writes wearing a special scarf. Another has a definite time to write every day. We are all different.
Roald Dahl wrote in his garden shed with a rug over his knees on a board, JK Rowling wrote the first idea for Harry Potter on a train then in coffee shops. Whether you need silence or the sound of life around the more you write when you have decided to write the more your brain will help you.
A small ritual that you could adopt would be to intentionally know you can leave your worries behind and just give yourself this time to be present and write. Take a moment or two to acknowledge this and your brain becomes your ally.
Give in to writer’s block
If nothing else has worked, just give in to it. This may be quite difficult for you if you:
- are committed to what you do as a business
- know a lot about how to help the right people
- care about helping people
- have life experiences which add personality to what you do
- are intelligent (yes, you secretly know it, and you are right)
- have a good level of education (!).
And you probably feel you “ought” to be able to write. But despite all that you are in a period of drought. You have said all the easy things and suddenly now it seems harder, and maybe you have got a tiny bit bored.
It is not Writer's Block it is just a fallow period
When you approach writer’s block simply as time where you are having time off it makes it seem much less scary.
The way through it is to accept it. Don’t try to write.
Give yourself experiences that nourish you. Do something completely different and break the pattern you are currently in. You will relax which gives your natural creativity time to re-emerge. If you are a creative kind of person (and no you don’t have to be an artist to be creative) you will need breaks.
It is like the rhythm of the seasons .. growth occurs in spring, ripening in summer which leads to harvest then dying back, and winter is a period of incubation. We all have seasons and need space to just "be" and not "do".
So take that holiday or vacation. Give yourself permission to stop. Tell your readers. Embrace it wholeheartedly and support yourself fully.
Just do something different regularly
Your writing muscle needs new experiences. It needs variety and surprise, and space to follow up and go deep. Endlessly rushing in order to be what appears to be productive has the opposite effect.
Give yourself at least 2 hours doing something different. It could be simply talking to your favourite clients, or going to a conference, but time off from work is even better.
You will find that time away simply being present in another experience could give you all the inspiration you need. Julia Cameron in her best-selling book The Artist's Way calls this "filling the well". If your well has run dry it is no surprise you can't write! Especially if you are someone who tends to put the needs of family and friends first this time is absolutely vital.
Some ideas to do something different include -
More ideas for doing something different
- You could go to the cinema – in the afternoon on your own!,
- see friends,
- send postcards,
- go somewhere new,
- walk in a town,
- be near trees, waterfalls, sunsets or sunrises,
- dance in the kitchen,
- listen to conversations on a bus or train,
- follow up on a hobby,
- buy a mindfulness colouring book.
- Write a list of 10 things you have always wanted to do and start with the first one.
It is not about spending money, it is about doing something different. You may even find yourself wanting to re-organise your cupboards or wardrobe!
Then the next day, after you have slept, turn up at the page with no expectations.
It is a lot more productive to treat yourself well. You may simply need time off. Periods of writer’s block could simply be a pause point in bringing your great work into the world.
I hope this gives you some ideas for continuing to write and think. Do you have any tips that have worked especially well for you? Do add them in the comments so we can all learn.