People often ask me how I manage to blog 5+ days per week without running out of things to write about, feeling uninspired because of the pressure or just getting stuck. I rarely succumb to the dreaded “blogger’s block.” In fact, I don’t believe it exists.
There are times when I can’t blog for other reasons. For example, I might not be able to find something to blog about because:
- I feel afraid to write about a topic.
- I don’t know how to approach a subject.
- I don’t know how to put what I want to say clearly into words.
- I feel unsure of my degree of knowledge about the topic I needed to cover in post.
- I don’t really want to write about a subject.
- I don’t feel passionate about my blog or the topic.
- I don’t feel inspired by the subject at hand or in general.
- I simply do not feel like writing or want to write.
- I fear criticism.
- I fear failure.
- I fear success.
- I need to write perfectly the first time.
Any one of these situations might slow down my writing—or the start of my blogging process. But I would not call this the dreaded “blogger’s block.
Don’t Validate Writer’s Block
For those of you who do find yourself staring at a blank screen, especially during National Book Blogging Month (NaBoBloMo) when you are trying to get a project blogged quickly on a deadline, here’s my first bit of advice: Don’t give your inability to write in that moment a name. As soon as you call your slowness to start a writing project blogger’s block, you’ve made it real. Not only that, you’ve given that condition power—power over you. And you’ve made it something to fear.
Some people say fear is nothing more than false evidence appearing real. The more you fear writer’s block, the more you give credence to your own validation for why you have it. And the more you fear it. The fear alone will stop your fingers from typing.
In fact, you don’t have blogger’s block. You “have” one of the conditions, or some other, on the list above. You simply need to figure out why you don’t write, and address that issue.
Blogger’s block, or it’s cousin, writer’s block, is a condition that supposedly prevents you from writing, typically for long periods of time. If, indeed, it existed, it would stems from the reasons listed above, you need to discover exactly why you aren’t writing and address it head on.
In the meantime, here are some ways to get blogging:
- Use a Different Format
Stop making yourself write perfectly when you sit down to compose a blog post. Jot down ideas and phrases as they occur to you so they will be handy when it’s time to write a post. You can do this freehand or on your iPhone using Evernote or on the computer. Don’t bother with paragraphs and sentences. Try a mind map that allows a free flow of ideas using charts, arrows, boxes, outlines, even pictures. Just get your ideas flowing so they spur you to start writing.
If you really can’t get the fingers to move or the mind to produce words, freewrite. Set a timer for ten minutes, and write down everything you can think of about your topic. Don’t stop writing until the timer goes off. If you can’t think of anything to say, write “blah, blah, blah” over and over. If other thoughts pop into your head, record them as well, even if they are not directly related to your subject. Doing so allows your mind to “dump” thoughts that might be blocking your current project.
Even if you write nothing worth using during your freewriting period, you’ll be warmed up and ready to compose a post when done.
Start with your post topic and begin asking yourself questions about it. Ask them with your blog readers in mind. The goal is to get your mind thinking about what you need to or can write about. Ask such things as: What do my readers already know? What do my readers need to know? What do I know? What do I need to find out? Allow yourself to jot down ideas for a set amount of time without censoring any possibilities and without striving for perfect prose. You can also do this as a mind map, which allows you to utilize a different part of your brain and have a visual depiction of your subject. When you complete your “brain dump,” arrange your ideas and begin writing…or don’t arrange and start writing if inspiration has hit.
- Start in the Middle
Start at the end or in the middle of your post instead of at the beginning. Start with a part of the post that feels most interesting or inspiring to you at the moment. It’s possible that starting at the beginning of your project isn’t giving you a creative spark. Some say this methodology even causes “Perfect Draft Syndrome.”
- Write Like You Speak
Stop looking for the perfect phrase and write the way you think or speak. Each time you get stuck, say to yourself, “What I really mean is,” and then write exactly that in simple language. You can come back and refine the phrasing later. That’s the purpose of editing and revising. Although it’s true that our speech habits don’t always make for perfect prose, if you are stuck trying to make each sentence perfect or find the perfect phrase, you may give yourself so-called blogger’s block.
- Satisficing (satisfy + suffice)
If you find yourself searching endlessly for just the right word or sentence or just the right bit of information, this solution is for you. Take the first reasonable solution or bit of research you find and use it. If you feel dissatisfied, place it in brackets and fix it later. Even better, just place the place in the document where you need the research, or where you writing feels stuck, in brackets immediately, and come back to fix it. Write around it.
- Be Accountable
Find an accountability partner. Or, even better, write with an accountability partner. Report in daily to tell each other if you’ve completed your blog post for the day. The reason coaches are so popular is because they serve this purpose, and once you pay money to a coach you are more likely to actually get something accomplished.
Now, keep on blogging until you complete your NaBoBloMo project!
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