Over the past year, I’ve been guilty of long lulls between blog post sprints. I blame it mostly on (1) the fact that I was planning my wedding and (2) any extra hours I spent working went toward writing content for my day job. But there were many times when I sat down to write a blog post, and even had a great idea for a post and the title in mind, but my brain was so filled with upcoming dress fittings and menu selections that I couldn’t focus.
Writer’s block happens to all of us at one time or another. But if you make your living online, and depend on your ability to consistently adding fresh content to your blog to generate traffic, you can’t make up excuses. Here are a few ways to beat writer’s block when blogging.
Schedule the time to blog
If you just try to fit in some time to write in between your other tasks, your brain won’t be solely focused on writing; in the back of your mind, you’ll still be thinking of all the other things you “should” be doing right now. Instead, schedule in an hour a day, or an hour every other day, to write your blog posts. This way, you’ll create that sacred time that is specifically reserved to writing. This will help shift the focus to the task at hand.
Choose a topic first
First choose a subject to write about. This can often be the hardest part. Whenever I’ve helped clients come up with new blog post ideas, I ask them: “What was the last question someone asked you about your industry? Before they became a customer? In a blog comment you received?” If someone had a question for you, chances are that other people (who haven’t necessarily visited your site yet) have the same question. That question makes a great subject for your next blog post.
Start out with a numbered list
If you have an idea for a post, but are still stuck, turn that post into a numbered list. For example, if I were stuck on this post, I could have called it “5 Ways to Beat Writer’s Blog When Blogging.” Now that you have a target number in mind, jot down the 5 ways, 5 reasons, 5 why’s, 5 steps, etc. to do whatever it is you’re telling your readers about. Now you have an outline that you can follow!
Write for 10 solid minutes
Get your iPhone, stopwatch, or egg time, and set it for 10 minutes. Then just TYPE. Get out whatever ideas are in your head about the topic you’ve decided on. There are two principles at work here:
- Many people work better under pressure. Even when you’ve set yourself an hour to write, you might spend the first 15 minutes on Facebook, 5 minutes checking your email, and another 10 minutes in your RSS reader, and all the sudden you’ve wasted 10 minutes. This way, you’ll spend the first 10 minutes being productive.
- It’s much easier to edit something than it is to write it from scratch. Once you’ve written out what’s quite possibly gibberish, you can go back and edit what you’ve got. And you’ll have 50 minutes left to do so. Besides, you’re the expert on whatever you’re writing about, so chances are it’ll be much better than gibberish.
Maintain a consistent blogging environment
Sounds like music that’s not yours, a dog barking, an interesting program on television, or even a spouse’s question can completely derail your train of thought. Don’t let that happen. Make your family aware that you’re off-limits for the next hour (or better yet, wake up before the rest of the household does), and go in a quiet room to write. If necessary, put on some headphones and blast instrumental music like Mozart or the Lord of the Rings soundtrack (hey, it works for me). Find the environment that gets you in the zone, and replicate that environment each time you want to blog. It will help you get in the zone faster the next time.
What are your strategies for overcoming writer’s block? Let me know in the comments below!