Writing can be a therapeutic, relaxing way to share ideas and express yourself. Or it can feel like the emotional equivalent of slowly slamming your head in a door over and over again.
If we’re being honest, it’s usually more closely related to the latter.
There’s nothing more daunting than staring at a blank page. Writer’s block is frustrating, especially when you’re unable to even think of an interesting topic about which to write.
With the prevalence of content marketing, blogging, and social media posting, PR professionals and communicators are expected to generate interesting content from a fresh perspective to drive traffic to their organization’s site and build stronger relationships with a growing audience.
Churning out content on a regular basis may result in periods of uninspired writing, but there are tricks to keep in mind next time you feel yourself floundering for new ideas.
Finding yourself at a loss for new content ideas feels impossibly frustrating, but keeping a running list of potential topics, even if they lack complete clarity or a specific angle, can save you from ever being completely without new ideas. You can refer to this list whenever you feel yourself struggling to produce new work.
Trello.com is a great resource for this. This free site allows users to create boards with potential content topics. Users can share boards with multiple team members, and invited users can comment on topic cards to facilitate collaboration and creation.
Peruse other blogs
I’m not suggesting, of course, to steal ideas from other blogs, but exploring sites and reading content can provide information about topical industry news or introduce ideas that may work as a jumping off point for a new post.
Searchable blogging sites, such as Tumblr and Pinterest, can also yield some useful tips, ideas, and prompts to stimulate interesting writing. Searching for terms such as “writing ideas” and “content marketing,” as well as terms related to the specifics of your organization or industry, return seemingly endless results to spark creativity.
Brainstorm with a colleague or friend
Sometimes, getting out of your own head and discussing new topics with a colleague or friend provides inspiration. Similar to reading your finished work aloud, talking through a potential topic and receiving input from someone else can develop stronger ideas.
Give yourself a break
It’s important to create timely articles, especially if you work on a deadline, but sometimes taking some time away is beneficial. If you’re really stuck, staring at a computer screen with no ideas is as unproductive as not being at your desk at all.
Take a walk and get some fresh air, read a few pages of a book, or try a bit of meditation or stretching. Research has found that breaks, especially those that are regularly scheduled, have been proven to increase productivity and focus. A University of Illinois study, for example, stated that when performing lengthy tasks, implementing brief mental breaks helps a person to remain focused throughout the task.
Try some writing exercises
Writing exercises liberate you from your usual writing routine and provide a new perspective on brainstorming. One good exercise to try involves writing longhand, nonstop and without removing the pen from the paper, for a specific duration of time. Forcing yourself to write continually may bring out an interesting thought that can be turned into a longer post. Even if you only get one usable sentence out of a whole page of this exercise, it managed to free you from your rut.
Mind mapping, writing about a general topic in the center and connecting it to subtopics that branch outwards, can also help flesh out ideas. The visual approach to brainstorming may especially resonate with those who learn more effectively with visuals. People also tend to process visuals differently and faster than text. One study found that the brain processed images after seeing them for as little as 13 milliseconds. Creating a visual representation of your ideas, therefore, can provide a method to rethink how you approach topic creation.
Every writer dreads bouts of writing without inspiration, but next time you’re feeling personally victimized by the blank document and blinking cursor, try one of these tips to create topics for engaging work.