It’s a horrible feeling, isn’t it? When you sit down in front of your computer or pick up your pen and the words just won’t come out. More importantly the ideas won’t come either. You know you need to write something, whether you’re pitching for an article, or writing a piece for your own blog, but your creative well seems to have run dry. What do you do?
Well, it would be easy to give up, but you’re not going to do that are you?
If you’re really stuck for an ideas, there are a couple of ways to warm up your creative muscles:
- Think about your audience – who is reading your blog, articles or magazine? What do they need or want? Look at a few writers’ forums and see what questions people are asking. Can you answer those questions?
- What problems have you been tackling? – Recently I’ve written about personal writing situations, including working with a professional editor. That has passed on to my readers and will hopefully help them too.
- Who inspires you? – I don’t have many series’ of posts yet, but I do have ‘Writers who inspire me’. This gives me a chance to look at individuals who I’ve met either in person or online, or who I admire from afar, and discuss what it is about them that inspires me.
- Repurposing content – look back at your blog posts or articles from yesteryear. Is there something there that is still relevant? Is there something that’s still a burning issue but could do with an update? I did a few posts a while ago about ‘What I wish I’d known…’. I’m sure I can come up with a few of them in the coming months!
I find that often the best way to proceed is to pick a topic you know, that you really want to write about. Then grab yourself a piece of paper and a pen (usually more effective than a computer, I find) and start writing down any ideas on that topic that come into your head. Anything. Not in any order, feel free to cross things out, scribble, anything, just get the ideas going. You can do it in a big long list, or a mind map, or with cartoon drawings – I’m not fussy how it gets done, just do it.
When you have your big long list, start to go through them and see which ones can be developed into articles. Not everything will work out – but nor are you allowed to chuck them all aside as ‘rubbish’. Think positive!
Once you’ve picked out the idea you want to work on first, you can start to think through how you’re going to write the piece. I find that a good place to start is thinking through the article and picking three key points that you want to make. Three is a good place to start because it doesn’t feel too long or short. Like Baby Bear’s porridge, just right. Once you’ve got your three bullet points, you can start putting the flesh on the bones.
Now you’re going to ask me how long it should be, aren’t you? The answer to that is that it depends on where the article will be published. If it’s for a magazine or journal, then it’s likely you’ll be given a word count. If it’s your own blog, then it could be any length. However, I’d suggest keep it as tightly written as possible. By that I mean no waffling, no five-words-when-one-will-do; short, simple sentences will keep your reader entertained.
And now, you should never have this ‘don’t know what to write’ problem ever again, because you have a big, long list of ideas. So, pick the next one and crack on!