Sometimes writing a personal blog is like being sent to the supermarket with a note that simply says “Get dinner.” While it’s great to be able to write whatever you want, that ultimate freedom to find the topic du jour can often leave you overloaded and staring at a blank screen.
Instead of giving up and writing another “I’m tired, so no post today” posts, try these ideas to help beat your writer’s block once and for all.
1. Write Daily
“Keep writing. Keep doing it and doing it. Even in the moments when it’s so hurtful to think about writing.”
-Heather B. Armstrong
To get better at something, you have to practice, and writing is no exception. If you write every day, you will create momentum that will push you over the potholes that used to bring your writing to a dead stop. If you’re worried about publishing every day, don’t. If at the end of the day your writing doesn’t seem like it’s ready to publish, then put it aside and let it stew. It just might provide a starting point for a great post at some point in the future. Remember: writing every day is the important part, regardless of whether you publish or not.
2. Read Daily
“If you don’t have the time to read, you don’t have the time or the tools to write.”
If you’re feeling stuck, forget writing for a while and just read. Odds are that you’ll find something inspiring that will kick you into gear. Reading will not only provide you with new topics to write about, but it will also help to give you stylistic ideas on how to write. If you dedicate as much time to reading as you do to writing, you may find that you have more ideas than time to write them down.
“My Homer is not a communist. He may be a liar, a pig, an idiot, and a communist, but he is not a porn star.”
Because you’re the writer of a personal blog, you can write about anything, so expand beyond what you think your blog is. You don’t have to tell a hilarious or heartbreaking story in every post. Your blog can be whatever you want it to be. Don’t let your preception of what your readers think your blog is dictate what it will become. Try something new. It may not end up being classic literature, but every post has the possibility to push you in new directions.
4. Write For Someone
“An author ought to write for the youth of his own generation, the critics of the next, and the schoolmaster of ever afterwards.”
-F. Scott Fitzgerald
When I’m at a loss for topics, I often pick a person I know and write a post that I think would benefit them. Sometimes it’s a funny story, while other times it’s some sort of instructional post that I think might make their day easier. I tend to do this a lot, and if you poke around, you just might find a post that was written specifically for you.
5. Make A List
“I don’t like the sound of all those lists he’s making – it’s like taking too many notes at school; you feel you’ve achieved something when you haven’t.”
The web has made me into an idiot. And what do idiots read? Descartes? Nietzsche? Kierkegaard? No. Me like lists. List list list. Whether it’s 44 Mario themes, blaxploitation movies, actors turned singers, or The Secret Lives of Stormtroopers, lists are an easy way to kickstart your writing and get a post out the door. As an added bonus, you may notice that your lists get more traffic than that 5,000 word scientific dissertation that people only seem to find because it unintentionally contains the words “moist” and “supple”.
“Give a man a fish, and you’ll feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, and he’ll buy a funny hat. Talk to a hungry man about fish, and you’re a consultant.”
-Scott Adams (as Dogbert)
The average person is carrying around a couple of thousand years worth of humility with them, and although humility is good for building wage slaves, it bad for blogging. You have unique talents and skills that you probably think are common knowledge and not worth mentioning. You’re so wrong! On those days that you have nothing to write about, teach your readers something. Give out one of your recipes. Teach us how to get the most out of social bookmarking or how to upgrade WordPress. Teach us about a new card game or an old viking game. You have an unbelievable amount of information locked up inside your head, and it’s not fair that you keep it all to yourself. Write it down and help us out!
“One cannot review a bad book without showing off.”
-W. H. Auden
Please don’t think I’m encouraging you to sign up for those awkward “pay per post” reviews. Those are a waste of everyone’s time. No. I’m talking about reviewing something that you’re exicted about. Review some movies, music, restaurants, new technology, games or even other sites. There are endless possibilities for reviews to kick start your writing, but they also benefit your readers by giving them the chance to save a couple of dollars or find out about something new.
8. Take Notes
“We do not remember days, we remember moments.”
One of the tricks I used to keep myself writing when I started this blog was to try to find at least one story in the moments of my day. Because I’m not Captain Adventure, some of those posts were born out of seemingly insignificant events that I normally would’ve forgotten five minutes after they happened.
To keep track of those ideas, I keep either a notebook or a quarter sheet of scrap paper in my pocket at all times. By the end of the day, I have a pocket full of notes to help defend against staring at a blank screen. If you mind empties quickly, fill your pockets with scraps of paper.
“One can either live or tell; not both at once.”
If you have nothing to write about, sometimes it’s best to get away from your PC and live your life. There are a million moments out there just waiting for you to live them. Once you start writing consistently, you may find yourself writing those moments out in your head as they happen rather than enjoying them for what they are, but that’s ok. Just remember that when the line between writing and living becomes a little blurred, living is the important part. Blogging is merely your record of it.
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