One of the challenges of producing content is to always have something to write. But what can you do when your mind has gone blank and you seem to have no inspiration at all? Even the best authors suffer writer’s block.
Luckily there are some strategies you can use to overcome this problem.
1. Have a list of topics
Brainstorm the topics you could create content for. If your content is built around a niche or business start with the core elements.
For example if you were writing about getting traffic to a website your core topics might be SEO and social media.
Then break down the core topics further. Using the example above you could list the different SEO methods and the different social media platforms.
Keep breaking down the topics until you have between ten and twenty. Now you have a list of topics you may want to address in your content.
2. Have a Content Creation Calendar
Having identified the topics you could write about you may want to schedule them. Consider when it might be a good time to release the content you can produce. Could they be tied to an event that happens at a certain time of year? Is there an anniversary that would make your content more relevant? If you are creating content to help with marketing you will want to make sure you know release dates for relevant products.
Enter all the dates you identify then look at how your other topics can slot in too. This way you can develop a calendar of topics that you would like to publish on or near specific dates. Once you have entered your topics into a calendar you won’t have to spend as much time thinking of what to write about when the time comes. Now you’ll know what you want to write in advance and be able to give yourself more time to produce the content.
One of the best places to use this strategy is with blog posts, especially if you plan to post several times a week. I have applied both the above steps to this blog and use an Editorial Calendar plugin to help organise my blog posts in advance.
3. Put out a Call for Inspiration
You probably know a range of people who can help you. People who share your interests, others who also create content in your niche, and people who you regard as experts. Ask them for ideas.
If you don’t have a number of people like this you can ask I suggest you look for a Facebook Group or forum that’s related to your niche. It’s important to have support, and not just when you can’t think of ideas for content.
For those who have a list of customers or prospects you can ask them what they would want to read about. If you don’t have an email list perhaps you have followers on Twitter, fans on Facebook or readers who comment on your blog. Ask them to suggest a topic or a number of topics that they are interested in learning more about.
Collate the results and apply them to suggestion 2 above.
4. Share Your Know-How
When you can’t decide on a topic try thinking of an experience you can share. There’s a difference between a topic that’s written in a dry, almost textbook style and one that includes your own personal experience.
Write about the difficulties you overcame and any tips you picked up while actually working through a problem or challenge. Such content can inspire your readers, be more helpful, and help establish your authority in the subject.
5. Respond to a Current Topic
Try to keep up to date with your niche. One of the best ways to do this online is to subscribe to a number of RSS feeds and keep them organised.
If you don’t have an account at Feedly.com or a similar service I suggest you set one up and start looking for sites that can help keep you well informed. You’ll be able to see the latest developments in one place and perhaps get some inspiration for content.
6. Just Write
Another thing you can try is to just start writing until inspiration comes. Just like exercising a muscle can lead to improvement so perhaps a period of intense writing can lead to some useable content.
The idea is to just start writing and not stop. If you get stuck just write down mtcmtcmtc (more to come) until you can think of what to write. Alternatively you can write stream of consciousness, for example ‘I’ve run out of things to write. Exhausted, depleted. Can’t think of other words to describe it. I can’t seem to think. This is so frustrating. I wish I’d never read that David Wildash post. What can I write about next?’ and so on.
Just keep writing until you get yourself back on track. Eventually, you’ll have trained yourself to keep going, and will be better at dealing with writer’s block.
7. Take a Break
Sometimes the best thing is to just take a break. Don’t underestimate the wonderful power of the subconscious. Even when you’re not actively thinking about something your subconscious seems to stay on the case.
So step away from the blank screen with its angrily flashing cursor and go do something else for a while. Make a cup of coffee, do some exercises, read some fiction. Decide in advance what you could do that would be a complete break but that you could complete in a half hour or less.
When you return to your computer try starting at a different point to the one you left. Start at a point that you will find easiest. Remember when you took exams and the teachers told you to start with an easy question just to get yourself started?
Perhaps you could write a summary to the piece, recount a relevant familiar event, or write a section you have a strong opinion about.
As I wrote at the start of the post, even the best authors have experienced problems producing content. If I could summarise the above tips it would be to be prepared for when your idea bank dries up. Have a reservoir you can go to and you should find the experience shorter lived and less frustrating.