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How to keep writing when the well is dry

May 31st, 2012 · 8 Comments · Copywriting, Growing & Learning, Web/Tech

From my mailbox:

I read your emails and your piece in the Business Record. I think a gal here at my company might have heard you speak at the NAWBO Conference last year (does this sound right?) Anyway… she said one of the things she took away was that you made a comment of how no matter what you had going on and/how you felt, you made sure to be consistent with your blog posts.

Some days I’m just not feeling it… like today, but I know I have to post consistently. Do you have any tricks you do to keep your head in the game or your confidence up when you write? I tell myself I’m my own worst critic and this is just one post of many… and regardless of it being great or crappy… it’s not going to make or break me.

My reply:

Hey there –

Happy to offer whatever advice I can. There are certainly days when I feel like the tank is empty. I’m either over scheduled or over tired or just over stimulated and I have nothing to say. Or, as you say — I’m feeling like what I do have to offer is lame or expected.

On those days, which fortunately are not all that often, I do one of a few things:

I cut myself some slack. I remember that one blog post is not going to make or break my blog and that no one is paying as much as attention as I think they are.

I sit it out. If I’ve just posted something on the blog (I average 3-4 posts a week) I’ll give myself permission to take a day off with the mental promise of being back on it the next day.

I go to my reserves. I always have a few posts written and tucked away for a rainy day. If I use one — I have to replace it AND write new stuff for the blog, so I have to be in bad shape to go to this solution.

I curate. There’s lots of good stuff being written out there and most of it goes pretty unnoticed. So on a day when I am not feeling inspired…I’ll go through my robust feedreader and find a gem that I think got overlooked by many. I’ll write a little intro, add some context as to why I think it is relevant and then post the link.

I seek out guest bloggers. I don’t do a lot of guest blogging on my site. But every once in awhile, sharing a different voice is kind of nice.

I use the answers to questions I’m sent. I get a fair amount of email from the blog and I try to answer it as best as I can. When someone asks something that I think others might care about too… I use it as content. (Like this exchange)

The bottom line is — you’re right, no one is going to die if your blog content is a little light for the week.  But it can quickly become a rut that’s hard to climb out of.  So hopefully some of the suggestions above will help you avoid the rut in the first place!

So — how about it readers — how do you create content when your well is feeling dry?

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8 Comments so far ↓

  • Meghan

    I know this sounds silly and simple – but I try to make myself laugh and re-start my creativity. I visualize random objects with googley eyes on them (like a lamp, or baseball bat), make funny faces with my breakfast food, and change my scenery (if I’m having a brain blockage, or not feeling up to writing, sitting outside with my laptop helps). Like I said, silly things, but surprisingly helpful for me to get unstuck. Good luck!

    • Marielle

      Thanks for sharing – it’s nice to see that you’re not the only one having creative blocks once in a while – I think it’s human and I don’t think users/readers mind not receiving a new blog post every day if there’s just one person contributing to the blog. Personally, I would rather not see a blog post published every day, if it’s not written fully-hearted than reading something that’s been in stock for quiet some time or written without interest/passion.

      • Drew McLellan

        Marielle,

        I think we all hit creative stumbling blocks now and then. Every blogger/writer needs to have a clear vision of what they’re trying to accomplish. Having a post for every day of the week is a very different goal than having 2-4 quality blog posts that educate, inspire and connect with people. So I agree with you 110%!

        Drew

    • Drew McLellan

      Meghan,

      Nothing is silly if it works! And laughter releases serotonin which we know helps foster creativity and fires up the entire right side of our brain. So there’s nothing silly about it at all!

      Drew

  • Lisa

    I go for a walk, it usually lets my mind wonder and something usually just flows in that I can expound on. I do try to skip some days too – it doesn’t hurt traffic to skip a day here and there. We all need a break to rejuvenate our minds!

    • Drew McLellan

      Lisa,

      Fresh air is a great way to clean out the cobwebs and re-fire up the brain, I agree. Sometimes, even opening up the windows in the house does the trick.

      Drew

  • Mike

    Sometimes you just need to wait until the idea comes, being sat in front of a laptop isn’t the most inspiring place to be! I go out running, cycling or climbing to forget all about it and focus on something else… after that I usually find my mind is more relaxed and the ideas flow.
    Mike recently posted..Yes… I also do Web Design for Small BusinessMy Profile

    • Drew McLellan

      Hey Mike,

      You’re right — sometimes you have to shake those ideas out by getting up from your desk and doing something physical. It can really jog the creative juices!

      Drew

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