Dealing with Writer’s Block: 4 Tips on Finding Ideas for Your Next Content
Back when I first started to write regularly, not professionally mind you, just writing for the sake of writing, I was completely inundated with ideas and it had seemed that I would never run out of things to write about. Oh, how blissfully ignorant I was then. It’s not that I can’t come up with things to write about, I do, it’s just that the right words always fail to materialize in my mind. Writer’s block is definitely real, people.
Of course, the measure of a man lies in how they could overcome such hurdles and in this regard at least, I could comfortably say that I passed with flying colors. Writer’s block isn’t something that you should simply wait out, it might last as short as a few months or in the case of Harper Lee, author of the celebrated To Kill A Mockingbird, it might actually be permanent. In the world of content marketing, where creators are tasked to come up with contents on a regular basis, knowing how to deal with writer’s block should be an essential part of your repertoire.
Your mind is a well; every now and then it would run dry
I’ve become somewhat of a pragmatic in that I personally think that the human mind and their imagination can be somewhat limited, for a lack of a better word. The way I see it, the mind resembles an electric car, it’s going to run out of juice after a while but the resource needed to get it back up and running is indeed infinite. It’s easy to think that writers and other creative types have this infinite pool of energy to tap into but at least when it comes to me personally, that’s far from the reality.
Writing is hard work, fiction especially but even non-fiction can be tricky as you’re going to have to do quite a bit of research on the subject you’re tackling and come up with angle that could make the banal seem interesting. Generally, my problem tend to focus on the latter as coming up with an original point of view requires one to be a keen observer of society as a whole. To help you in navigating these same issues, here’s some tips you could use on finding ideas for your writing.
Read as if your life depends on it
Even though I studied Engineering, I’ve had a bit of a formal education in writing when I signed up for a creative writing class partly on a whim in my final year at Uni. My then-professor was a proponent of Stephen King’s memoir, On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft and his oft-repeated advice is one taken straight out of Mr. King’s pen; “If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot.”
A lot of great writing can easily be found on the internet. When it comes to non-fiction, I usually use services such as Pocket, Longreads and Flipboard for interesting reading materials. If you’re looking for inspiration, you could look for specific topics you’re stuck in to see if there’s anything you could write about. They could also be used for you to keep track of what’s currently trending if you’re looking to tap into the zeitgeist.
Listen to your customers
For businesses, try to remember your recent interactions with your customers and see if there’s any question or remarks that might’ve been repeated. Social media have made direct business-to-consumer interactions easier than they’ve ever been and you should use those opportunity to figure out what the public wants from you. If you want to be even more direct, ask them straightaway if there’s anything they’re curious about and use that as a platform for your next content.
Circle back and check out your previous contents
If you’ve never bothered learning on how to use the plethora of analytical tools available for websites across the internet, you might want to start thinking about doing so right about now. With Google Analytics and other similar tools, you could check out a comprehensive analysis of everything you’ve ever posted and see how well they did with readers. This way, you could see which of your previous contents that particularly connected with readers and use that as a basis for your future contents.
Of course, repeatedly doing the same type of contents over and over again might actually be counterproductive so try to think of a twist that you could pull off for an original take. Try to use the first advice in combination for example and see if there’s another angle you could approach the story from or use the second advice and directly ask your customers if there’s anything more on the subject that they want to know. In 2018, everything old is practically new again.
Look to what your competitors are doing and beat them at their own game
Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery as long as you could do a better of job. This might sound surprising to you but there was actually a time when the likes of BMW and Audi don’t have a single SUV in their lineup, they were just focused on making luxurious sedans that has a sporty bent. That all changed however when BMW came up with the 5-series based BMW X5, ushering this era of SUVs where even Rolls-Royce has one in their product line.
Hopping in the bandwagon might seem like a crude idea but if you’re seeing that your competitors are doing well with their contents, steal it and adapt it for your own purpose. This might sound reprehensible but trust me when I say that morals would be the last thing on your mind when your competitors start to pull out numbers you could only dream of. This is just the nature of competition and as long as you’re confident you could do a better job, go right ahead.