Perhaps the most frustrating aspect of blogging (and writing in general) is the dreaded “writer’s block”, which is a term that describes a motivated writer who is having trouble finding a topic to write about or otherwise struggling to proceed with their current writing assignment. Truthfully, it’s a pain in the ass.
But, there are useful tricks that can be used to prevent this annoying phenomenon.
Although ThinkSaveRetire.com is just a year old, my blogging experience extends back several years. My past blogs have centered around everything from politics to health and fitness, technology to personal finance. In that time, I discovered several ways to keep writer’s block from standing in the way of my progress.
How I prevent writer’s block
Get involved in the community – The more integrated I get, the more people I wind up communicating with. These conversations almost always fuel the fire within me to write. I get inspired by the community and want to do my part to offer up the best content that I possibly can. This helps to get the creative juices within me flowing a little faster and very often sparks clever periods of extreme determination for me to bust out an awesome blog post.
Glean ideas from social media – Many of the topics that I discuss on the blog originate from somewhere within social media, like Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest. With Twitter, I created private lists that I use to help narrow down the topics that I am looking for and I use tweets from those whom I follow for ideas on my next blog post. Facebook and Pinterest work largely the same way. I recently started to use Pinterest more actively and have added a daily stop off at my Pinterest boards for inspiration. It works almost every time.
Visit my favorite blogs – This community is filled with extremely talented bloggers, and it would be a waste not to use content written by other bloggers to get ideas from. I’ve actually said to myself, “I feel like writing…let’s go see what J$ from Budgets Are Sexy is writing about”. Seriously.
Just start writing – Although this goes against everything that we were taught in our high school English class, barreling into an article before you have it completely mapped out can help to spark creativity. Sometimes, I just write. I have a title in my head and maybe the first few bullet points that I want to talk about. And, through the process of starting the article and introducing the topic, ideas start flowing and my creativity gets amped up into overdrive.
Look for controversy – Sometimes, this works. Controversial topics tend to be very well-read – like my article about privilege in early retirement. Controversial topics tend to be easier topics to write about because our emotions very often come into play. While emotionally-driven blog posts don’t always come across well, they sometimes can spark activity on your blog, not to mention provide fodder for further articles.
Sometimes, life provides the answer – I don’t actively think about the blog when I’m out and about running errands, but I’d be lying if I don’t admit that the words “Wow, look at that – I should write an article about that” are occasionally uttered. Uttered a lot, in fact. I do not always follow up on these ideas, but very often I do. For example, Why your $80,000 car no longer impresses me was written after spotting a white Lamborghini being driven by some young kid. Yes, I lowered the price on that one a bit for the title of the article.
And then, there are the typical answers, like take a walk or remove yourself from the environment. Eliminate distractions. Read something. To which I say…”eh”. While there is nothing wrong with any of your more typical tips to avoid writer’s block, I found the techniques outlined above give me a much better chance at consistent and dependable progress.
What say you, fellow bloggers? How do you keep yourself from falling into the writer’s block trap?
Steve is a 37-year-old early retiree who writes about the intersection of happiness and financial independence. Steve is a regular contributor to MarketWatch, CNBC, and The Ladders. He lives full-time in his 30′ Airstream Classic and travels the country with his wife Courtney and two rescued dogs.