Ever paint yourself into a corner? It’s a common saying relating to a common problem. Bloggers can feel like the trapped painter when they are trying to think of fresh ideas for their blogs. Keeping your writing muscles fit is not always easy when it seems like every topic under the sun has been covered in detail at least twice.
No miracle gadget or ancient secret can banish writer’s block forever. Much like an athlete conditions their muscles through exercise, a blog writer can use mental exercises to keep their mind in mint condition. This lets ideas cascade out of your brain like a waterfall instead of dripping out slowly like a leaky kitchen faucet.
There are a few good writing exercises you can use to keep your writing muscles toned:
An idea journal
Inspiration can strike at any time and in any place. Keeping an idea journal makes it easier for you to jot down words or phrases that come to you at a coffee shop or riding on the train. With an idea journal, you can sketch out ideas in all directions and see visually which angle works best on a topic. Your first direction isn’t always the best one. An idea journal can help you explore better alternatives.
A picture does not always need to be worth a thousand words. Sometimes, it just needs to generate a sentence or two. Studying images can spark a flow of ideas. Ask yourself questions with each image. What is taking place? Why it is happening? Who is causing it? The answers help you unfold a story that can prove useful for those times when you are exploring a random topic from scratch.
Blog comment essays
Blog readers can be a valuable resource for generating ideas. Take a few interesting comments from your own blog or on other blogs and respond to those comments. Sketch out an essay exploring the ideas presented in the comment. There is no need to publish the essay (unless you really want to do it), but it does offer a good jumping off point for exploring that same topic in a future post.
Sticky note catalog
People often use sticky notes as reminders to complete mundane tasks like washing dishes or buying groceries. You can use sticky notes to collect ideas. One note could pose a question related to a breaking news story. Another note could offer a quick observation of something happening outside your apartment window. These sticky notes can be a creative lifeline when you feel stuck in neutral.
Sometimes it helps to close your eyes and just let your fingers do the walking. Blind writing follows the same principle as free writing. You simply type without looking at your laptop screen or tablet for a few minutes. Most of the time, it simply cleans out mental clutter so you can get to work. Occasionally, it offers an unexpected jumping off point for your topic.
John C is a freelance writer available on WriterAccess, a marketplace where clients and expert writers connect for assignments.