Better blogging: When the ideas dry up – overcoming writer’s block

No matter how creative or prolific a blogger you are, every one of us suffers from the dreaded writer’s block at some point. You rack your brains and you stare at your screen or notepad, but fresh ideas are conspicuous only by their absence.

So how do you overcome the dreaded blank canvas? Different writers have their own little tricks for unblocking their minds. Here are five tips and techniques that I use.

1. Stop. Just stop

It’s like scratching that itch that won’t go away. Or trying to remember that fact on the fringe of your memory. The harder you try, the worse it gets as your brain only freezes up that much more.

The best thing you can do when writer’s block occurs is to ignore it. Make yourself a coffee, go for a walk, do some cleaning – anything that takes your mind off the problem and gets you focussing on something else. You’ll be amazed how often ten minutes of doing something else is enough to get the ideas flowing again.

2. Read, read, read

I spend a large chunk of my time reading what other people in my chosen blogging spheres are writing about. This is partly because it’s always good to be well read, but also because other people’s ideas are a great source of sparking new ones of my own.

Taking something someone else has written and using it as a frame for your own experiences is inspiration rather than plagiarism. It’s always polite to reference any source material which has inspired you, though.

3. Review old drafts

If you’re anything like me, you’ll have accumulated a load of half-written drafts, or lists of titles and topics that you’ve never quite got round to posting.

I’ve lost count of the number of posts I’ve resurrected which had been buried in draft form for weeks or even months, just waiting for the right moment to be dusted off and completed. In fact, one of the posts I’m most proud of had to be hauled out of mothballs four times over a period of over two years before I finally found the inspiration I needed to complete it. Check out your draft or trash folder and flick through those old notebooks – so often yesterday’s discarded ideas are perfect for today.

4. Try a new topic

Sometimes we reach a point where we’ve mined a particular seam to the point of diminishing returns. Starting a new chapter and exploring a new topic that might be slightly outside your comfort zone can provide the challenge and excitement to get new ideas flowing.

So write something, anything, on whatever new topic takes your fancy. This might provide the inspiration for a new series of posts, or just shake out enough rust to reinvigorate existing ideas. Even if you never end up publishing any of this new material, you’re still flexing your writing muscles and giving yourself the opportunity to shake things up a little.

5. Take a photo

As the saying goes, a picture speaks a thousand words.

Like many bloggers, I’m forever taking photos of my kids or anything else that catches my eye, just in case they should ever be useful in a post. However, the vast majority go unused because they don’t find a post to fit in with. But why not look at things the other way around? Instead of adding a photo to a post, why not pick a photo and create a post around it?

Do you have any tried and tested techniques of your own for overcoming writer’s block or generating new ideas for posts? If so, leave a comment below.