How do you get inspired? Looking to beat writers block? Waiting for your stroke of brilliance?
I’m waiting, too. I’ve been waiting. And if I just continued to wait, it might come, but I’d lose a lot of time just sitting back.
What are you supposed to be doing right now? I’m supposed to be writing a blog post, myself. Chances are, you’re supposed to be making progress on a blog post, too. It’s an aspect of a marketer’s job that is de-prioritized and sidelined more frequently than not (sometimes indefinitely).
It’s hard. That’s definitely true.
But you (probably) don’t need me to tell you that publishing regular, consistent content has been proven time and time again to be one of the most effective ways to generate interest and prove ROI for your marketing efforts.
Needless to say, there’s a lot riding on this whole blogging thing. So let’s get out of our writing rut and make some progress on these marketing goals, darn it.
I’ve packed a punchy list together to reenergize and kickstart your blogging efforts, both the silly and serious alike.
1. Hang out with a stranger or acquaintance.
This can take the form of a quick conversation on the bus, or sitting down with an acquaintance over a cup of coffee.
The concerted effort of kicking new ideas around with an unfamiliar source, or stirring up different perspectives on an issue can help get the creative juices flowing again.
2. Ask to trade (physical) spots with a coworker or work remotely for a day.
Use the change of scenery to engage your brain.
Post up at a hipster tea bar or a more touristy coffee shop. Set up a stand-up desk for the day. Just go outside the norm and infuse some novelty into your process.
3. Bring a notebook along when you’re traveling. Tap it for ideas.
Personally, I have a TON of ideas when I travel. (The good and the bad, both.) Put ‘em to paper.
If you’ve got a running list going, you’ll always have a source for new ideas from past ones. Or they could all be trash. Who cares?
It’s a starting point, which is often the toughest hurdle to overcome.
4. Write as someone else.
Imagine being another person. Articulate it.
Some quick ideas to get you started:
- You’re Louis C.K. on stage, gauging reactions from the audience and catering next jokes appropriately. (Or maybe he isn’t. You decide.)
- You’re a dog that’s somehow become a human and is now presenting to an executive board while dealing with your new reality.
- You’re Barack Obama, drafting a tweet about a current event, searching for the right balance of humor and seriousness. The humorous side is winning out.
Point is, be not yourself. Trying on a different hat transports your mind in ways thinking as you, yourself couldn’t.
5. Start every day with a program like 750 Words.
750 Words is an excellent website/program to help you get out of your own way and get the words down. (How do you think I wrote this blog post?)
Not every word has to be gold. In fact, stress less by just focusing on flexing that writing muscle. With the sustained effort to get to 750 words every day or once in a while, you’ll start cranking out better content as you go and building off the momentum. Be patient; it might take a few tries.
6. Create novelty.
Plan a spontaneous evening with friends or family. The weirder or more uncomfortable, the better. Think bingo night at the senior center, a police ride-along, an out-of-character concert, or slam poetry, that sort of thing.
Set aside some time to reflect afterward and what sorts of feelings/ideas stirred up for you. You might not necessarily be thinking of blog ideas for your company at the time. In fact, you probably weren’t.
But, you may have thought through something completely differently or suddenly achieved clarity to a problem you’ve been muddling through for weeks as a result. It’s worth a shot.
7. Do something by yourself.
Reflect on stuff. Let your mind wander. Just make sure you have a way to record it.
What does that look like to you? Yoga? Cool. Do that.
Sitting in a steam room? Knitting? Reviewing weekly baseball statistics? Drawing cartoons? All awesome! Do it.
You might end up inventing something to alleviate your own pain points (just ask this guy who invented Rocketbook).
8. Explain an idea/concept to a kid.
We’re not saying your audience isn’t smarter than a 5th grader. Rather, this is an effective method to force you to take a step back to consider ways to more clearly explain a concept or industry controversy to someone whom might have no familiarity with the topic whatsoever.
Your readership will appreciate you taking the extra time to break it down in more commonplace terms.
(Bonus: If you actually get the opportunity to chat with a kid, brainstorm a bit and ask for their ideas. Kids are full of ’em.)
9. Watch an old favorite in a new way.
If you watch the same movie or type of TV series frequently, and in generally the same frame of mind, try something new. Watch your favorite horror movie in the light of day or an old animated favorite upside down.
It’s astonishing what new things you notice when you switch up just one variable.
10. Write something you’d like to read.
If that means deviating a bit from the typical scope of topics you cover, so be it. Don’t let that stop you.
(We’ve done it quite a bit, unapologetically.)
Check it out:
- An Ode to the Oxford Comma
- The Definitive BlogMutt List of 40+ Books to Read (& Love)
- Gifs, Gifs, Gifs: What Is a Gif & How to Use It in Your Content Marketing
- The Top 10 Ugliest Words in the English Language
Once in awhile we all need to feed our interests and write from the heart, and chances are, some of your readership will feel similarly.
If it doesn’t perform well, who cares? You enjoyed writing it, and it might provide a strengthened connection and renewed inspiration with the content you create.
11. Describe an old art form.
Make it a juxtaposition by using modern slang in your description. Avoid structure.
Focus on a tiny detail. The placement of the left forefinger in a sculpture, or the color of a background prop, for instance. It’s amazing what you find to write about when you limit your scope.
12. Start with a story from when you were younger.
Think about a lesson you learned from when your cat bit you (perhaps not at the time), or when your dad sat on a cactus.
Relate it to your audience and tie it to a professional goal or practice in business. You’ll become a real person to your readership in the process.
13. Write about (or to) a company you admire.
Do it. Publicly. There aren’t enough authentic compliments out there in content marketing. It’s almost always self-serving or prompted in some way.
True-blue, unabashed goodwill speaks volumes about a person and feels really good for both parties involved.
14. Write with your hand.
Might sound weird in these terms, but physically write something for a change. Yes, with a pen, a crayon, whatever you fancy. Whip out some of your rusty cursive if you’re feeling ambitious.
15. Create a swipe folder for a rainy day (or, one lacking inspiration).
A swipe folder is a standing folder that can be a catch-all for the inspiration you encounter (and can add to) daily.
In the process of generating such a folder and tapping into it at choice times, you’ll get the inspiration momentum train rolling while simultaneously investing effort into reducing potential for inspiration deficiencies in the future.
16. Find your productivity groove.
(Start here: These tips can help.)
Once you get those endorphins firing after checking completed items off your list, you can continue that snowball effect when you get to tackling the content piece.
Sometimes the best way to gain momentum is to start somewhere unrelated and let it spill into a stalled or uninspired area. This happens to me all the time, at home especially, when I’m actually trying to accomplish a task. I’ll start with something small, like taking out the trash or sorting mail, which snowballs into doing the laundry, and finally — the always dreaded — washing the dishes.
17. Go to sleep.
Granted, this isn’t always an option. Maybe you’re under the wire with a deadline.
But if you go nap for even just 20 minutes (an effective nap increment) and wake up feeling refreshed, you’re more likely to be able to write uninhibited and with fewer distractions.
If you have the luxury of getting a full night’s sleep before deadline, it’s well backed up scientifically that you can write more (and better!) earlier in the morning.
18. The internet loves open letters. So, write one.
Write one to your audience, in response to an industry post you read recently. This forces you to consider other perspectives and alternative solutions you might not have previously considered.
Don’t get too angry & heated, though, because anger is one of those emotions that can easily hinder effective language production and openness to new ideas. Not really what we’re going for here.
19. Establish a routine. (Go with me here.)
Yes, it may seem counterintuitive to try to come up with novel ideas by imposing more structure, but the fact of the matter is that many great writers had self-imposed writing schedules that were adhered religiously, day after day.
It’s not rocket science — your brain will be more easily triggered to write if it’s used to writing at the same time, in the same environment. You don’t have to keep reinventing the wheel every time to get a blog post out the door.
20. Take it a step further. Set aside the first 15 minutes of your day to brainstorm 10 blog ideas.
Take this a step further and inspire yourself with a brainstorming session every day. Make yourself come up with 10 different ideas.
Nine of them might be crap, and the tenth might need some work. But chances are, if you keep at it every day, you’ll be better able to flex that idea-crafting muscle and generate an ongoing list of ideas from which to pull.
(And maybe tomorrow one of your crap ideas could turn into a brilliant one!)
21. Phone a friend.
Call in that lifeline, and see if there’s a website or method we’re missing here as his/her go-to. Then, tell us about it.