The worst part of running a writing business is when you run out of ideas. It's that oh s**t moment. No matter what sort of writer you are, you’ll get blocked sometimes. Freelance writers are sometimes stuck for ideas, novelists get blocked halfway through - even JK Rowling suffered terrible writer’s block when she was trying to write Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. Luckily there are a few things you can do to get yourself through writer’s block and back into the artistic frame of mind…
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Get Away from the Desk
If your writer’s block is just a momentary thing and you haven’t been suffering for months, the best thing to do is to get up from your desk and go for a walk. Whether you get a cup of tea and go to sit outside for half an hour, or you strap on your walking boots and get down and dirty with nature for an afternoon, is up to you - but it’s important to change your environment.
You could even move your laptop to a different place in the house for a slightly different perspective. I like to sit at my patio table in my yard.
Try Free Writing
Pick up a pen and paper and write for fifteen minutes without stopping, even if your hand starts to cramp up. If you have an obliging friend, ask them to read out words to you for inspiration.
Although a lot of what you write won’t be useful in the slightest, chances are there will be a few phrases in there that will be interesting simply because you didn’t have a chance to think about them before you wrote them down. Free writing can show you what’;s really in your head by lowering your inhibitions.
Experience Other Stories
If you’re suffering from an ability to structure your writing, why not take in other people’s stories? Watch a great season of TV or a movie - this app is quite good if you’re looking for a streaming service - in a similar genre. For example, if you're writing a gangster novel, watch the likes of The Godfather and The Sopranos.
Do a Throwback
For bloggers, sometimes, to create great content you don't need to create new content. One look at your former posts can supply you with a plethora of awesome future posts.
For example, do a roundup of your most popular posts. Go to your site stats and take a look at the posts that got the most views, the most comments or the most shares. Choose the top ten and create a post that links to each other with a brief description of why each post rocks. Better yet, add your favorite line or tip from each post to the description.
Another idea for repurposing old posts is by expanding on them. Do an update or flesh out the old post with new or more complex information. For example, on one of my sites (I sold the site in 2014) I wrote a post on how to draw people. Then I broke that general information post down into more in-depth posts, such as How to Draw a Child, How to Draw a Nose, How to Draw a Mouth, and a dozen other posts.
To find ideas for repurposing posts, do a brainstorming session. Draw a circle on a piece of paper and write the name of the post in the circle. Now draw some smaller circles around the large one. Fill these circles with topics that stem from the main topic in the main post. Branch out from these ideas with circles with even more detailed ideas. Here is an example:
Do a Survey
If you want 100% new ideas for your blog or articles, then mine your readers. Set up a survey (SurveyMonkey is a good app to use) and ask them about what their biggest concerns are. Then, craft posts that answer their questions or concerns. This one tactic can give you a lot of great topics to work with and the best part is your readers will really care about your posts.
Another super helpful tactic is reading the posts of other people in your industry. You may find that you have such a strong reaction to something you read that you simply must write a rebuttal.
Here is an example:
Neal Frankle says that going to college can be a waste of time and money. While in some cases I would agree, my own experience has shown me that even half a degree can be worth your while.
One post can even spawn ideas for several others. I took the one post by Neal Frankle and used it to spur ideas for another post for one of my clients.
One of the great things about poetry is that each one is like a short story - a poem is a representation of a thought on the page instead of a long, laboured plot structure. If you’re having problems writing and you’re feeling jealous of other writers, you could read some poetry instead, from the older Romantic poets like Wordsworth to more recent poets like the spoken word poet Andrea Gibson.
Reading poetry will help you appreciate the beauty and importance of carefully choosing each word and it will help you write sentence by sentence instead of thinking of your novel or article as an enormous task that you will inevitably fail at.
Start Something New
Finally, you might be blocked simply because part of you knows that what you’re writing simply isn’t going well. Give it a break and start something else. You’ll be able to come back to your original work once you’ve gained some space and distance from it so you can edit it more easily.
Try one, or all of these ideas, and I guarantee your writer's block will be gone and you will be typing away once again. After 18 years as a writer, I've done all of the above!
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