This is an amazing contribution by Jerry Low from WSHR, read more about him at the end of the post.
Writer’s block sounds like some horrible disease, intestinal malfunction or prison cells filled with literary types…… yuck… And, for those who make a living by stringing together words to create something fresh and new, it is a horrible affliction for which there seems to be no cure but time.
However, if you are experiencing writer’s block, there are things you can do when blogging goes ugly and the writing flow stops. In addition, there are some things you can do other than writing that may help knock loose the blockage and get your typing fingers racing across the keys again.
When the dreaded writing affliction of being blocked hits, simply work your way through this list until your writing begins to flow freely again.
1 – Read Old Posts and Recycle Your Old Writing
If your brain refuses to come up with a new idea to write about or put the words together to complete an idea, then spend some time going through old posts on your site. Start at the beginning and work your way through.
- Do line edits. Go through each sentence word by word and fix any grammar or spelling errors. Even the best edited pieces might have a couple of typos. In addition, see if anything needs updated for current Google algorithms or recent advances in science and technology.
- Is there more information on this topic now? Could that morph into a new article idea? Is it enough to write a complete article or should you just update the old post?
- Where is the old post linking to? Check backlinks as well to be sure quality sites are linking to you.
Reading old posts does a couple of things. First, it improves the quality of your site. Second, it can spark new ideas when you see topics that haven’t yet been covered.
2 – Write about Your Success (but avoid bragging)
When you don’t have anything else to write about, share some of your successes with your readers. You have to be careful here as this can be a fine line. You don’t want to come across as arrogant to your readers or sound like you are tooting your own horn a little too much. Be humble.
- Tell readers when you win an award. Thank them for their comments, feedback and bearing with you as you learned to be a better writer or understand a concept a bit more.
- Let readers know when you’ve had a successful month. Again, thank them. Your site wouldn’t have had the highest month of traffic ever if your site visitors didn’t come see you and send others there.
- When you overcome writer’s block, tell them about your struggle and how you overcame it.
3 – Write about Your Failures and What You’ve Learned from Them
Readers like a person who can admit that they are not perfect. If you’re a blog owner, small business owner, or human being, then you’ve had failures as well as successes. Share with your readers where you’ve failed. Did you once try to start a bubble gum business but bubble gum was already available in every corner store in your county? Share with the readers your mistakes, even the humiliating ones, but more importantly share what you learned from that mistake. This will give you:
- Something interesting to write about.
- Sympathy from your readers who can relate because they’ve all failed at something in the past as well.
- A lesson for your readers who may just benefit by not repeating your mistake.
4 – Publish Roundup Posts
When you’re struggling for words, choose a topic and create link roundups. This will help you connect with other bloggers as well as potentially getting you backlinks. Chad Gould shared on Ask Aaron Lee that “link roundups increase your site rankings because they create valuable, relevant backlinks to your blog.”
How does this create backlinks? Let’s say you write a short piece about how to train a dog to play fetch. You are totally and completely blocked, but you’re able to summarize what others are saying and link to them. So, you create a short post titled: “Teach Your Dog to Fetch Link Roundup” and you write something like this:
If you want to teach your dog to fetch, try out these great training articles by some of today’s top experts.
Within the link roundup, you link to one of the most influential dog trainers online today. He notices when he is searching his stats that he is getting some traffic to your site, so he checks out the roundup and backlinks to you. You’ve just received instant ranking kudos from the influential dog trainer blogger.
5 – Connect with Other Bloggers
Spend some time connecting with other bloggers and build relationships. This can pay off later when you interview the fellow blogger (see suggestion #6 below). When you aren’t able to write or you can’t stand to type another word and you need a break, go find blogs that are in your niche or are somehow related to what you do. For example, if your blog is about training dogs, as mentioned above, then you may want to connect with people who blog about dog products, breeding dogs and dog health. These are complimentary topics to yours but not competition.
Spend some time:
- Commenting on other blogs.
- Sharing posts about interesting articles on your Google Plus page.
- Tweeting about blog posts you find interesting.
- Sharing a link on Facebook or give a shout out on their FB page.
- Talk to other bloggers. Send a simple e-mail that says hello, but make sure it is personal so they know it is not spam. Comment on one of the articles on the site you enjoyed, for example and be specific.
6 – Interview Other Bloggers
Once you’ve made connections with other bloggers, when you are blocked for something to write about, you can always conduct an interview with some of the industry leaders in your niche. Simply drop the other blogger another e-mail and tell him or her you would like to send a few questions and interview him for your blog.
The majority of bloggers will be happy to oblige because they know that an interview on your site means your readers will come visit and drive traffic to their site. Also, if you have built quality content, then your site will be well respected and thus a link from your site to theirs within the interview will be a valuable online real estate commodity.
Interview other bloggers about:
- Why they were interested in the topic they are experts in.
- Special projects they have going on.
- Advice they have for others.
7 – Watch YouTube Videos in Your Niche and Write a Summary
Who doesn’t love an entertaining YouTube video? When all else fails, walk your typing fingers over to YouTube.com and do some searches in your niche. Let’s use the dog training example again. You might search for “dog training tips” and find a video on how to teach your dog to do the Harlem Shake. You would then watch the video and write a short summary of what you witnessed. Link to the video within your blog post and you have a short post that your readers will enjoy but will not take a lot of time or brain power.
Just be careful, it is easy to get distracted by funny cat videos while you’re there. Stay focused on your niche area and what your readers will truly find informative rather than what is cute or funny.
8 – Take Photographs and Create Stock Photos for Your Blog
Still blocked? Grab your digital SLR camera and snap some photos that you can use on your blog at a later time. If you use a stock photo service like Deposit Photos or iStockPhoto, the cost of purchasing all those images can add up. Having a collection of stock photos that you and your writers can use to illustrate posts can save you hundreds a year. Some things to keep in mind:
- The size of the final images on your blog. If you use a square image, remember that the photos will be rectangular. You’ll want to zoom out a bit to leave some room around the edges for cropping.
- Lighting can make a big difference in how professional a photo looks. The last thing you want is to put amateur looking photos on your blog. Study aperture and shutter speed and learn the basics that you’ll need to know to take a clear photo.
- Be aware of the finer details. That picture of the cup filled with coffee next to a day planner might be great for a post about grabbing your morning coffee to start your day, but if your phone bill is in the edge of the photo or there are dirty dishes in the background, it can ruin the entire ambience.
9 – Create Slideshows and Submit to SlideShare
Slideshows by nature are very factual. Use a program like PowerPoint to create a simple slideshow with statistics from other articles you’ve written. Simply go back through your old posts and gather info from a specific topic and place that info into different slides. You will need to add some background images, bullet points and
In the SlideShare Presentation titled How to Use SlideShare to Market Your Business, the creator of the slides points out that some of the benefits include that the slideshow can be easily shared on social media sites and you’ll reach new readers through SlideShare itself. With 60 million monthly visitors, it is easy to see how spending a little time while blocked creating new slideshows can pay off in more site traffic over time.
10 – Make an Infographic Based on Your Old Posts
The buzz heading out of 2013 and into 2014 is that data visualization is hot. People are accessing the web from their mobile devices and looking for quick information that provides simple facts and charts. Infographics are perfect in that they provide both of these things in a visually pleasing presentation.
There are a number of resources for creating beautiful, professional looking infographics listed in WHSR’s How to Make Beautiful Charts and Infographics for Your Sites. If you’re blocked for new ideas, simply go back through your old posts as suggested for creating a slideshow. Come up with another topic and pull all the stats from articles and add them into an infographic.
The Cure for Writer’s Block
The best cure for writer’s block is to keep moving forward. If you can’t write, then work on making connections, interview others or create micro-posts, such as commenting on YouTube videos or creating roundup lists. Writer’s block is really more like a virus than a disease and if you can wait it out, it will fade away into a vague memory.
About the author: Jerry Low
Jerry Low is a geek dad who is passionate about tech and Internet marketing. His website Web Hosting Secret Revealed (WHSR) offers helpful web hosting tips plus tons of blog marketing guides. You can also get more from him on Google+.
Photo Credit: Vince Kusters (cc)