Do you ever feel like you’re staring at your computer and you just have no idea what to write about? Do you feel uninspired?
Finding the Right Words
Try a brainstorming session. Here’s how it works:
Turn off the computer. Wait, not yet. After you’ve read this.
Take out a blank sheet of paper and a pencil.
Write an idea and draw a circle around it. Now, break this idea down into 3-5 related topics, putting each idea into it’s own bubble and drawing a line from the original bubble. Then, try creating a post or two from each topic. If you can’t, keep going. Or, try another main idea.
For example, let’s say my main idea is springtime. Here’s what my brainstorming might look like:
A. It’s springtime.
1. Spring means flowers and my favorite flowers are: peonies, tulips, and daisies.
a. Post on favorite flowers.
b. Post on decorating with flowers.
2. Flowers grow in gardens, but I don’t have a garden since I live in an apartment. I could have a potted garden.
a. Post on how to plant an indoor herb garden.
3. It has been raining a lot lately.
a. I enjoy the rain, and recently bought a new umbrella and galoshes. Post on my cute new rain gear.
4. It’s starting to get hot outside.
a. My hair is frizzy. Post on my tried and tested frizz-fighting hair products.
b. I have to get a bathing suit soon. Post on bathing suit trends, and my 5 faves.
See? I have almost 2 weeks worth of posts, all because I started with the season of the year. You can do this with any topic. I suggest you try it out this week, and come back here and let us know how it worked.
The Write Time
Now after you’ve planned your posts, how do you get inspired to actually write them? What to do when you face writer’s block, and how to press through it?
By now, you should have 10-15 post ideas. Pick the easiest for you to write and go from there. I always work from easiest to hardest, as it’s nice to have a solid warm-up in place. You wouldn’t run six miles after a year-long hiatus, would you? Nope— you’d start out slow [hopefully, unless you’re totally crazy]. Writing is much the same— an endurance sport where distance is key.
When you’ve chosen the post you’d like to start with, take a few steps/precautions first:
1. Turn it off. Close all chat windows, calendar alerts and Internet browsers [with the exception of any research you may need to do]. Switch your phone to vibrate or turn it off completely.
This is important, because chances are, if you write your first article, you’ll snowball into a writing frenzy and may be able to hash out 6-7 posts. With guaranteed isolation, your chances of continuing your writing are much, much higher.
2. Grab a notepad. One thing that happens when I’m writing is that my mind wanders. I know it’s bizarre, but I sometimes finish a paragraph and realize I’ve been in auto-pilot the entire time, thinking about umbrella stands while I’m writing about tents. [Does this ever happen to you?] This is what the notepad is for.
While your mind wanders, write down any traceable thought so you can revisit it later. Maybe it’s a subconscious way of finding great new post ideas. Regardless, be sure you write them down, because you’ll be much more likely to let the thought leave your brain if it’s written down. You want to focus on your writing and your writing alone.
3. Treat yourself. OK this is a total Freud thing, but I have a problem writing if I don’t have something tasty to drink while I’m doing so. My favorites lately are iced coffee and/or a cucumber lime spritzer.
For some reason, if I have either of these drinks, I feel inspired to write and vice versa— if I don’t have these drinks, I can’t settle down to write. Maybe you have a pair of pants you love to write in, or a certain hairstyle that makes you feel more like a writer [hello, Braid Wednesday!]. Whatever it is, be sure you have those conditions to gear yourself up for a few hours of writing.
4. Just do it. Easier said than done, yes, but start writing the meat of your post or a few key sentences. The rest will flow from there, and if it doesn’t, perhaps the topic isn’t organic for you.
I recently submitted a freelance article on camouflage accessories and HATE camouflage. So naturally, I had to gear up for the post by reading a few benefits to camouflage, or look at a few ways camouflage can be used in a cool-ish setting.
By the time I finished my research, my hatred lessened for camouflage and the article flew from my fingertips. Sometimes all it takes is a bit of a mind-opener.
Whatever you do, don’t give up. Writing is certainly a gift, but it does take practice, and we all know what our mothers say— Practice makes Perfect. Or in my case, Practice makes for One Heck of a Spritzer Addiction.