Over the past year and a bit since starting this blog, I’ve written a lot. At the beginning it was easy. I had so much material that had never been seen anywhere except writing classes and quite a bit more that had never been seen at all. Bit by bit, I would dole it out along with whatever else I came up with along the way.
I still have plenty of novel chapters, poems, song lyrics, creative pieces in reserve. But posting them all would be indulgent. So I try to sprinkle them sparingly throughout blog posts that offer something more to others who also write.
And I always have opinions, so a steady stream of articles and advice on writing and editing was the inevitable result. Until this month. The ideas boards were starting to get empty. The remaining ideas on them were starting to get less inspiring. I had to admit a hard truth. I was running out of ideas for blog posts…
It happens to everyone, not just those with blogs. You simply get to a point where you feel like you’ve exhausted all your options for content. Because surely every subject has a finite amount of topics that can be covered. That’s probably true but the likelihood that you’ve explored them all is very remote.
My solution? I went online and started reading the websites of published authors. Not as an answer to my problem but because I was bored and frustrated and wanted to distract myself, take a break and hopefully come back to the task at hand feeling less so. I was also sick or injured or whatever you want to call it that week after having a tooth out and barely being able to eat.
Funnily enough, it was those websites themselves and my miserable state of health that gave me a multitude of ideas. I read a piece of advice that said writers shouldn’t post book reviews. Well, I had an opinion on that. There’s one blog post. I read another piece of advice that writers should only use “said” to attribute dialogue and occasionally “asked” but never anything else. I had an opinion on that, too. Another blog post idea. And because I didn’t write a word for nearly a week after I had my tooth pulled – so much pain, so hungry, so miserable, hurting even to talk – there was another blog post. Advice on when it’s best to take a break from writing (for the sake of your health and the quality of what you produce).
And, of course, there’s this blog post on running out of ideas for blog posts.
There is always another blog post topic right around the corner. Sometimes it’s just a matter of waiting for it, of looking for inspiration, of taking a break, of uttering the words “I’m running out of ideas for my blog” to another writer or reader or editor or your mother, which in turn results in a conversation or an interaction or an opinion that has you running for the ideas board in order to get them all written down.
So here are a few hints on how to get the content juices flowing again:
*Stop writing and read. Read what others are saying, what others are writing in your field of interest. You might learn something. But you might also come across something you realise you have something to say about.
*Read something outside your field of interest. You might have something to say on that, too. My very first blog post was a political piece and it’s the only political piece I’ve ever written (with a focus on communication aspects of politics) but it was something I wanted to write at the time.
*Ask someone else to write a guest post. I asked my little sister to write a guest post and it inspired me to write a follow-up piece. So that was two blog posts filled in the schedule when I previously had none.
*Ask your readers if there’s something they’d like you to write about. Audience interaction can be terrifically inspiring.
*Think about events on the calendar. Earlier this month, I had to write a blog post that I knew was going to fall on April Fools’ Day so I made up an article with a fictional university and a fictional academic study identifying the tongue-in-cheek secrets to writing a bestseller. In December, I wrote a Christmas-themed poem for writers. In January, I wrote about New Year’s writing resolutions. There’s always something happening that can become the basis for a new blog post.
*Go to an industry event and then write about it. Write about the event itself. Write about issues raised by the event. Write about the people involved. That’s three potential blog posts.
*Go out. Take a walk. Play a round of golf. Go see a movie. Just take a break. Forcing it is never going to result in anything you are happy with.
If anyone else has suggestions on how to come up with new ideas, let’s have them. No doubt I’ll be running out of ideas again in a few months…
*First published in Project December: A Book about Writing