I love writing. For me there's no better feeling than sitting at my computer typing away – words seemingly flowing out of my fingers (this might explain my tendency for long-winded posts). But every writer, from best selling novelists to bloggers, hits a wall from time to time. And while a novelist might churn out a book once every few years, many bloggers produce content with frightening regularity – daily or weekly posts. For me, writing's the easy part – coming up with ideas, now that's hard!!
In fact, possibly my biggest struggle in my role here at Affilorama is coming up with new ideas to write about. And as many affiliate marketers use regular blogs as part of their marketing activity, I have no doubt that many of you have encountered this problem! Fortunately, being a fairly typical common problem, in doing my research for this post I found heaps of great ideas on how to get over this hurdle. I've assembled the five common themes I found. Be sure to check out the links at the bottom of the page for some of best articles I found on the subject.
The trouble with blogging as part of your job is that it's very easy to feel guilty if you're not pounding away at the keyboard. But in reality, one of the most important things you should be doing each day is reading! There's a reason why the best writers are also avid readers. Nothing gets the creative juices flowing better than reading someone else's words. In one of my favorite movies, 'Finding Forester', Sean Connery as a troubled legendary author gives the young aspiring student a piece of his own work to copy. “When you begin to feel your own words, start typing them.” Other people's work can provide the inspiration for your own work (just don't plagiarize!). Also, in the constantly evolving and dynamic universe of the internet, being up to date on new developments is essential. So don't feel bad about taking time each day to read blogs and newsfeeds – it is time well spent. Check out my previous post of 10 Blogs for the Internet Entrepreneur for some ideas of what to read.
Give yourself a break. Nothing can choke up the veins of creativity more than too much pressure. Your brain's too busy saying “I need to get this done” instead of actually thinking of good ideas. Now that doesn't mean that you shouldn't set deadlines, in fact I find I’m at my best when I have a bit of time pressure to get something done. But I've also had to learn to walk away. There's no point flogging a dead horse – and there's no point banging your head against a computer screen if nothings coming. So take a break – go for a walk. Do something else. Read for a bit. And then come back to it later. Sometimes it's just not worth forcing it, and you may find that a bit of a break is all you need for the ideas to start coming.
3. Brainstorm – Effectively
While we all know the old mind map strategy of writing something in the middle of a bubble and then branching off everything we can think of, I imagine that few of us ever really use this powerful strategy – and rarely to its full potential. Also, we often use brainstorming when we are already frustrated with failing to have come up with an idea – so we end up with a blank piece of paper. Instead, approach brainstorming as a separate task, from which ideas for posts will come off. You can start from specific keywords from your particular niche – in which case I sometimes find using a keyword suggestion tool like Traffic Travis actually quite useful for coming up with words I might not otherwise have thought of. I also found a really great article on ProBlogger about how to brainstorm of your last five posts and extend off into new ideas. This really struck me as a good idea and I plan to use it in the future.
4.The 'F' Word
“We have nothing to fear but fear itself” said Franklin Delono Roosevelt in his first inaugural speech. Fear can be one of the most crippling afflictions for a writer. Fear of rejection, success, failure, mediocrity, risk - Copyblogger has a great post on fear and how to overcome it. Perhaps you don't consider it fear – but that feeling you get when you start to write something, only to furiously backspace muttering “people will think that's stupid,” that's fear. Also remember that mistakes are part of the game. Every time you make a mistake, you learn from it. You show me someone who's never made a mistake and I'll show you someone who's never achieved anything!
5. Write for Fun
At the end of the day, after 8 hours of sitting in front of my computer at work – much of it often spent writing – one of the last things I feel like doing is getting out my laptop to write some more! But writing for fun, with no particular goal or objective, is like an athlete training for a big race – it's working your creative muscles, increasing your vocabulary, developing your style and helping you connect with that part of your subconscious where all your best ideas flow from. So just take some time, every other day, to sit and write about something. It doesn't have to be anything to do with your blog or your business. You don't have to worry about proof-reading, and it doesn't even have to be very good, but the mental exercise of simply writing will help you when it comes time for the real thing. Personally, I like writing about some of my other interests, for example politics, music, science, and people. You can be as opinionated and offensive as you want, because no one ever has to read it! You may even find that out of the swath of inane mumblings comes a few real gems – if that happens, take them and develop them. But don't worry if that doesn't happen either. It's still worth just writing for fun, because, well, it's fun!
I hope these ideas help you the next time you hit the dreaded writers block wall. If anyone has any other ways that they personally find useful in getting past writers block, please share them in the comments!
Great Articles on Beating Writers Block:
- 10 Surefire Steps to Beating Blogger’s Block
- How to Start Writing
- Where I Get Story Ideas
- Beat Writers Block Once and for All