So, you’ve got to write a blog post, whether it’s for your personal blog, your company’s or perhaps you’re writing a guest article or column for another site. For experienced and inexperienced writers alike, one of the most agitating scenarios is not knowing what to write about, or simply, the inability to get started.
There are many alleged cures to creative droughts like this, some elaborate, some deceptively simple, but recently I’ve been working with a decidedly more high-tech solution to keep me writing.
Get on the Cloud
In the past I used to note down ideas on scraps of paper, in notebooks, on tissues, bar mats etc, however, there is always a chance that you’ll be missing those when you sit down to write. If you want to make sure that you’re never in that situation again then it’s time to start saving your work to the cloud.
Cloud saving (i.e. storing your work online) is one of the surest ways to guarantee access to your ideas no matter what device you’re using, be it a smart phone, tablet or computer (internet connection is required). This means that whenever I’m sat at my desk at home, in the office on the sofa, train, conference or whatever, I always have a device that I can type my ideas out on and then have them synced across my tech easily.
This means that I’m never more than a few clicks away from my ideas, whether I need to write them down or work from them - no more writers’ drought for me!
This requires a good piece of software , my weapon of choice is Evernote, it’s free and easy to use. As well as storing notes, you can also take clippings of articles, upload and edit screenshots as well as tag and categorise everything so you can find it later. Other services like Google Keep and Microsoft’s OneNote also provide the sorts of functionality you’ll need - it’s having the ability to access your documents from any other networked device which is key!
So you’ve got the means to have your ideas at your finger-tips, what next?
Get in the Right Mindset
Getting in the right mindset may sound like common sense, but in reality it is the most important part of this process! You have to open your mind to accepting new ideas, looking for inspiration and questioning what you see.
In reality anything can inspire a blog post, but if you’re not on the lookout for ideas, they are just going to pass you by. Be willing to question what people are telling you - not literally, but look for a different angle or alternate viewpoint, it is this kind of thinking which may give your blog post that something extra required.
Very often the ideas which will make the best blogs aren’t always those which have taken hundreds of hours worth of work, but rather it might just be a different angle or a unique take on the subject - it’s being questioning which gets you there. I’m hugely fortunate that my colleagues all have such diverse backgrounds and a lot of discussions we have lead to blog-worthy ideas, it’s just being aware when they pop up and capturing them for future use which is most important.
Go Hunting for Ideas
No matter how active your imagination, there will still be some times where you need to go looking for ideas. In this instance there are many different ways to get the ideas flowing, and where you go looking for these will depend on your marketplace, although a good place to start would be Google News.
Monitoring what’s going on in your industry is the best way to know what is happening and in particularly working out what sort of content is going to be topical and likely to be well received.
Equally, looking at some industry-specific press releases will give you an idea about what everyone else is writing about and will help you find an idea/approach which will help yours stand out. Take a service like Journalism.co.uk, whilst there are going to be some good press releases and some of questionable quality, these can both be useful to help you see what to write as well as what not to write.
For a more in depth way of using Google News (as well as a few other services) for content ideas, I’ve set up some methods for gathering ideas for content, which will hopefully be useful.
You’ve got your ideas noted down and some time to work on your blog post, all that’s left is to do it. So this does make the process sound easier than it often is in reality, however, if you don’t start, you’ll never finish.
Don’t worry if you feel that what you’re writing is rough or not going somewhere, this is what the first draft is for. Experienced and inexperienced writers alike are their own worst enemy and the temptation to rubbish a draft because you’re not “feeling it” is natural, but extremely unproductive. Just write something down; as long as your core idea is there it can be edited later – that’s what editing is for after all!
So what are you waiting for! Get writing!
Image credit to Tsahi Levent-Levi