Fight Writer’s Block: Creativity on Command

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  • September 26, 2009

What are you going to write today?

Bloggers have to create content on a regular basis. We aren’t students writing papers due at the end of semester or Olympians called on to perform every four years. In blogging you must create and be creative all the time. There are many who value consistency over quality.

But, some days are more consistent than others.

We all have days when it feels like there’s nothing to write…when we’re struck with writer’s block.   Anyone can be funny, interesting or insightful sometimes or successful in a single instance, but how do you generate what you want when you want?

When I don’t have ideas I try to focus on what I do have.

Write Your Way Out of a Problem

I always have at least one of these.

Problems always get my mind going — usually in a negative way. But, exploring a problem and looking for a solution can be a great way to compose an article. If your having a problem chances are your readers have encountered that difficulty too.

Much of what I write starts out as a problem. This article starts with the problem of having to write a post and not knowing what to write on. My first post here 5 Reasons to Pay Attention to the Little Guys came from the problem of being small.

Look at your problems as opportunities.

If you are not having ideas, I bet you’re having problems. If you are having problems, I bet you’re stuck thinking about them. Why not use that energy toward composing a post. You might be lucky enough to figure a way out of your issue while writing.

If this happens don’t be discouraged.

The nice thing about problems is there will always be a new one to write through tomorrow.

11 SHARES

About Casey Brazeal

Casey Brazeal writes and records an interview blog/podcast called North and Clark. His recent interviews include a graffiti artist, a man who ran a gold mine, and more!

104 Comments

  • Eric B. says:

    A helpful post. I’m often stuck thinking of something to write about.

  • Ron Boracay says:

    Timely post. In every problem, there is a hidden opportunity. Thumbs up to this post of yours Casey.

    • Casey Brazeal (North and Clark) says:

      It can be tough to maintain that perspective, but I think you could be right. If there is no problem or conflict there is no basis for a story, suggestion or post. So in a way the solution is tied up in the problem.

  • Mik says:

    Writing a personal blog sometimes I have to hunt for post ideas, but usually just when i need a post something happens that I observe that gives me fodder, like the police swooping en mass on the bus transit center today.

  • vasiauvi says:

    Yes, you have right!
    Often I don’t know what to write, or about what to write and this is frustrating!
    But a problem is for me for example, if I have an idea at work and after coming home I’m to tired and bored to write something on my blog.
    I should definitely change this behavior!!

    • Casey Brazeal (North and Clark) says:

      I think we have all had the problem of getting an idea not acting on it and having it slip away. I have started carrying a little note pad with me all the time just to write down the seeds of an idea. That way I don’t feel pressure to remember it till I can get in front of my blog. It’s also good to store little turns of phrase and ideas that aren’t fully formed posts but might compliment a bigger idea.

    • ZXT says:

      Casey’s suggestion is right on. Writer’s usually always have a small notebook and a pen all the time so ideas won’t escape them. I think I need to do this now too.

    • Ron Boracay says:

      A pen and paper is always your friend. It’s a writer’s best friend actually. Me, I see to it that I have pen and paper that I can always reach whenever, some ideas comes out to my mind, that way, I won’t miss it out even if, long time passes by.

      • Arisu says:

        As a graphic designer I´ve always carried a little notebook to sketch, draw and write anything that can be helpful to future works, projects or personal amusement.

        And that has proven to be a good thing to do as a blogger too. But if I don´t have it with me I doodle and write in napkins or tickets and save them into my sketch book ^^

        You never know when that phrase, idea or anecdote can be useful.

        • Ron Boracay says:

          Right on the money dude! You must carry the most important thing with you, with your passion and your business (i guess).

          A read a book about it and it goes something like:

          On a flight from NY to Washington DC, Rick Frishman’s client Kurt Eichenwald was holding in plain a sight copy of his book Serpent of the ROck. Seated next to Kurt, was a producer of 60 minutes. They quickly struck up a conversation , the producer asked about Kurt’s book and bingo! 60 minutes ran a full segment on Kurt and his book.

          So, carrying a copy with him (kurt) on his flight-thats all it took.

          So it seems it relates to what we discuss here right?

          • Casey Brazeal (North and Clark) says:

            I am not totally sure how this relates, but I would definitely recommend talking to strangers on planes whenever possible. A conversation with a stranger in Chicago’s Millennium Park landed me a teaching job in Mexico a few years ago.

            That is a post I should write one of these days.

            • Ron Boracay says:

              Its just like bringing a pen and a paper or a sketch book, like what Arisu does. Because you may never know, where those opportunities or ideas may come from.

            • Arisu says:

              Nice story! You never know what can come up from a chat with a stranger and I´ve heard stories like that one very often. Opportunities are everywhere, so we must be prepared for them ;)

              • Ron Boracay says:

                True, its preparedness on everything that’s matter most. So everyday, I always see to it, that I will expect the unexpected.

  • brigid says:

    Just prattling on about something or someone in my day can be my inspiration for a new post. Its so easy to edit it and make it something decent. There is wonderful opportunity in every part of our lives.

    • Casey Brazeal (North and Clark) says:

      I think you are right about starting by writing fast and furious then taking the time to edit afterwords. I know some writers use the outline and layout first method, but I am very much in your camp.

      When I find myself shooting down my ideas before I even get them on paper I remember Jay Smooth and his comments about everyone having their own “Little Hater.” Its that initial fear of creating something that’s not up to our standards that stymies so much creativity. The key is to be critical of your own work, but only after that work is produced.

      • Nicholas Z. Cardot says:

        Casey Brazeal (North and Clark) –> I really like that concept. I find that with my writing I generally mix it up. With some posts, I write down the title and a few main points and then start working on it. With others I just sit down and write it out as if I’m chatting with someone. No outlines. Just straight, honest thoughts and opinions. Both are great methods. Some may work better for you or like me, you may mix it up.

        • Casey Brazeal says:

          I think mixing it up is a good instinct. If you have a rhythm of how you write and want it may make sense to keep everything status quo, but if you want to experiment to try and improve your creativity I think any number of small changes can help change your writing.

          I have heard it said that creativity loves rules (this idea could be a post by itself). I think one way to “mix it up” is to impose a restriction on your writing that aren’t usually there. If you usually write short posts make yourself write to a certain length. If you usually take hours composing a first draft, make yourself work with a time deadline. If you always write in the morning before work you could try writing at night after work. There are plenty of ways to change your environment which may change your results.

    • Nicholas Z. Cardot says:

      brigid –> I like that idea. We are constantly surrounded with inspiration and excitement. Why not draw from it for our blogging experiences?

    • Ron Boracay says:

      And your creative writing will just come out. And you wouldn’t know about it, because it will come out from you naturally.

  • ZXT says:

    You know what Casey this is my main problem in blogging. what to write, what to blog, get some ideas. I’ll try to follow your advice and lets see if that changes anything.

    Thanks for sharing this.

    • Nicholas Z. Cardot says:

      ZXT –> I’m really glad also that Casey wrote this. I was just getting ready to put together a couple of articles that identify some great ways to overcome and really make it through writer’s block and this is a great intro to that concept on here. This is absolutely the best way that we could have kicked off this topic. What better way to develop content then through solving problems.

    • Ron Boracay says:

      I think, this is one of the top or major problems of writers and bloggers like us. Hopefully, this post of Casey will really help things out.

  • Casey Brazeal says:

    Make sure you let me know how it works buddy. If you can write as many comments as you do I know you must be able to generate content.

  • Tycoon Blogger says:

    Some days I just can not think of anything to blog about but I am lucky that I have built up a backlog of blog posts. When I am in a creative mood, I will write several blog posts at the same time.

    • Nicholas Z. Cardot says:

      Tycoon Blogger –> I do that same thing. I’m constantly righting posts for the future. Also by writing several at the same time it allows me to take time off from the site while still providing my readers with quality content.

    • lindsay says:

      there is NOTHING better than having a few “in the chamber”

      Drafts or scheduled posts are probably a bloggers best tools. I have many days where I can pump out a bunch of posts sitting down in one shot. When i do that, I either choose to schedule them for days that I know I will be busy, or just save as a draft.. The only time this does not work if the topic is a timely topic and if posted late would make no sense..

      • Casey Brazeal says:

        It’s truly a luxury to be able to do have a couple post ready for a rainy day. Most of the stuff I write is not time sensitive, so I can post it when it is convenient for me. Still, even with that advantage I rarely find myself with two or three extra posts just waiting for me to have a slow day.

      • ZXT says:

        I think I should be starting to do this. Because like you there were days that there’s an abundance of ideas and there would be days that you can’t think of anything.

    • Ron Boracay says:

      Same here Sir. I use to and always do that.

      I always write online (tru my blog), and if I feel that its not yet ready to be publish or still missing something, I will just hit the save button and let is sit in the draft section.

      It is really useful to me because, those drafts reminds me that I have lot of articles sitting there and just waiting for them to be publish.

      In that way, I don’t run out of posts to be publish.

  • Fight Writer’s Block: Creativity On Command | Blog Mixer says:

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  • Nicholas Z. Cardot says:

    We’re talking about turning problems into opportunities and then I just came across this and I thought that it was very funny so I thought that I would share it.

    Dilbert.com

  • Casey Brazeal says:

    Haha… I hope I don’t sound like I am relentlessly positive. I definitely don’t want to be dismissive of real problems. Still, I think the more real the problem, the more important and relevant your post will be.

    • Ron Boracay says:

      Sometimes, it tends to be that way. Because, your visitors and audience can somewhat relate with those problems and those situations you are facing.

      And sometimes, believe it or not, by writing those problems or converting those problems into a post can help in seeking answers and possible solutions.

  • Walter says:

    When we run out of ideas to write we get agitated. But I agree with you here. Looking at problems we will see opportunities. :-)

    • Casey Brazeal (North and Clark) says:

      Thanks Walter.

    • ZXT says:

      Yeah it happened to me numerous times and my blog is just less than a month old, hopefully I could pick up techniques over time to improve the situation.

      • Nicholas Z. Cardot says:

        ZXT –> As I said earlier in the comments this article by Casey is just one great way out of many ways that it can be done. Over the next couple of weeks I’m going to be putting together some more tremendous ideas that can really help you powerhouse you way through writer’s block.

        • ZXT says:

          Nick you got so much ideas and knowledge that I find it hard trying to cop with it. I find myself most of the time bookmarking your articles so I can go over with it again whenever I find free time.

  • HelpfulAdvisor says:

    Great post, Casey! One thing I like to do when I need inspiration is to read other blogs.

    A lot of times I’ll read an article that is exactly what I think my readers would like to know about. I’ll then add my thoughts to the article and tie it into my site’s message, then provide the link to the original article.

    I’ve seen some blogs that do this quite a bit. In fact, WordPress has a BlogThis! feature that lets you do that on the fly, while you’re surfing the web.

    This can also make you more of a reporter, bringing the news to your readers and also sparking your creative side by adding your thoughts into the mix.

    I have a ton of article ideas by doing this. Keep up the great work, Casey!

    -Jay

    • Ron Boracay says:

      Jay, thanks for the tip, never think of that way. It was just like, commenting or replying on that great blog tru your own blog post.

  • Casey Brazeal (North and Clark) says:

    Jay! How have you been?

    I think trolling blogs for interesting content makes perfect sense. Whether you are looking for inspiration for your own writing or just crazy nonsense like http://bit.ly/108vLD

    Thanks for reading the article Jay and I look forward to the content you report on in the coming weeks.

  • Reza Winandar says:

    Problem is the source of creativity, so a man with a lot of problems is a man with a lot of creativity potential.

    • Ron Boracay says:

      And a lot of greater chance to become strong and reach success on a tough situation.

    • Casey Brazeal (North and Clark) says:

      I think that could be true.

      I would never have said it that way, but looking at your comment it might have made a good subtitle for this post.

  • Blake @ props blog ideas says:

    Writer’s block can really put a damper on a good day. Writing useful and interesting content day after day isn’t as easy as it sounds. I really enjoyed your tip about talking your way through your problem.
    The only downfall of that is… Uf you know its a problem, how can you write about fixing it?
    Finally, one way I try to help writer’s block is bookmarking pages to use for content ideas. Instead of writing about it right away I try to wait a while so if someone didn’t see the original post, I could direct them to it as well as add my own spin.

    • Casey Brazeal (North and Clark) says:

      I see what your saying Blake. A problem that one has trouble solving one might be reticent to write about.

      But I think you don’t need all the answers or a perfect solution to write about a problem you have.

      What one needs is to take the thinking that he or she inevitably invests in his or her problem and commit that work to paper. Chances are others have struggled through similar things and your own story will be engaging to them.

      What do you think?

      • ZXT says:

        Casey, I think if you are really not a writer then these things are harder to do than if you have background in writing or really like writing to begin with.

        Like I don’t know what “Reticent” means. Thats a jargon right?

  • Josh Hanagarne says:

    Casey B, good to see you here, buddy.

    I find the easiest way for me to get over perceived writer’s block is just to realize that I’m not under any pressure to put out brand new ideas.

    why? because there aren’t that many. People aren’t necessarily looking for new information, but sometimes for someone who says the Same Old Thing in a way that resonates with them.

    That’s why so many self-help books come out every year–not because they’re full of new information, but because people keep searching for that one author who says things in a way that feel right to the reader.

    Good stuff. Take care, buddy.

    • Ron Boracay says:

      Very true, sometimes, those good old effective information is what we really need.

      In terms of writing, I think proper research for those information and just making it fit with your blog post (or real life problem) can work in anyway.

    • Casey Brazeal (North and Clark) says:

      Josh my man! Glad to see you over here buddy.

      Your strategy of using old ideas is a new one on me. I think it would make a good writing exercise as a blogger to take an idea that resonates with you, from a thinker you respect and present it in a way that makes sense on the blog you happen to be writing for.

      It’s not generally the way I think about writing, but it is a strategy I ‘d like to and will attempt.

  • Ben says:

    Yup, just writing things related to your content gives inspiration. A mind map or just random words on a page work great.

    • ZXT says:

      Do you use a Mind map application? Can you recommend one?

      • Nicholas Z. Cardot says:

        ZXT –> I do use one. In fact, I’m putting together a post on it right now and I’ll be publishing screenshots of my mind map as well.

        • Ron Boracay says:

          Im sorry about this NOOB question, but what is the real use of mindmap. I have heard and seen it many times like some kinda of flowchart, but I doesn’t really get it.

          • Casey Brazeal (North and Clark) says:

            I don’t know either Ron looks like we gotta wait to see what Nick comes up with for us.

            • Nicholas Z. Cardot says:

              Casey Brazeal (North and Clark) –> Mind mapping is an amazing way to create a whole bunch of ideas for topics on your blog. I’ll go into detail with a post in the next week or two. I guarantee that it will help a lot. It helped me a lot when I learned how to do it.

              • Ron Boracay says:

                Is that those things or images, clouds with text inside of them? Just like a flowchart?

                • Arisu says:

                  Exactly! and that´s a great way to link ideas for a post, but also, for organize them… what´s the central topic for the post? what are the most important ideas around it? what extra ideas can complement them?

                  Maybe what you thought was the main issue is only a part of the biggest issue – mind maps can help you to deeply understand a topic.

                  • Ron Boracay says:

                    Oh, that’s a great tool. I think it can be useful in a lot of ways. Haha, Please do educate us more of that. I love to see them. So useful also for presentations or brainstorming sessions.

                    • Arisu says:

                      Mmm, now that´s a great idea for a post!

                      But in simpre terms, choose a main topic then write it in the center of the paper sheet and write the related terms, issues or ideas that come to your mind around that main idea (if you use circles and lines to link the ideas it can end looking like a little spider or a tree). You can do the same with each of the ideas around the main topic to make the map more interesting.

                      Wikipedia has a good enough article about it, if you wanna check it: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mind_map

                    • Ron Boracay says:

                      Cool! Now we just have to leverage and uncover more the hidden gem about this mind map! Will wait for Nick to post something about it.

                    • Arisu says:

                      Well, the best way to master something, is just doing it. So try to make one, it may come handy ;)

        • ZXT says:

          -> Nick, cool as I’ve been reading about this mindmap for the past few days on other blogs. I think I’ve tried one app but its kinda complicated.

  • Adam Haney says:

    This is very helpful advice. I usually start writing about a problem that I’m having or as a draft in wordpress. If I’m unable to develop it into an interesting article I discard it. I can’t tell you how many have been discarded :)

    • Ron Boracay says:

      We have different approach mate. Me, I let those drafts to sit at my archive. Sometimes, I can connect those drafts to each other to come up with a brand new post.

      • Casey Brazeal (North and Clark) says:

        Adam and Ron, I think your both right. The importance of drafts can’t be overstated. As far as whether to pitch or save them, while I like to save all my work, sometimes it is cathartic for me to get rid of a post that never reached its potential.

        • Ron Boracay says:

          Here I go again, I love to say, its a case to case basis. Too many things to consider like:

          If the draft I made needs more information, confirmation and proper authentication and right timing; then I will keep it as a draft until it reach a certain point that its “ok to be published”.

          Hope I make sense here. Don’t know if I am really talking right or contributing right here.

          • ZXT says:

            I completely agree with you Ron. Sometimes timing is everything. You have ideas right now and you just do some raw draft and let it sit the until the timing is right and you finish it and publish it.

            But as usual, its easier said than done. Pen and notebook I guess is our weapon so no ideas will escape.

          • Arisu says:

            I guess that your particular opinion on a subject or something you´re good at doesn´t need that much editing, but if your post is about something technical or news, then you need to put a little more effort checking your facts.

  • Evan Kline says:

    It’s funny and very timely that you’re writing about this now, because I went through a day or two recently where I thought “what the heck will I write about now?” It might not be exactly what you are getting at, but I did turn a problem I was having into a post. I was banging my head against the wall, wrestling with different WordPress commenting systems. So, I turned that into a post, writing about my experiences wrestling with the different systems. I find that those “dry” moments are temporary, and the ideas start flowing soon thereafter.

    • Casey Brazeal (North and Clark) says:

      This is exactly what I am talking about. When you wrestle with something grand or mundane. It generates thinking, emotion, a narrative and usually fuel for a post. Thanks so much for sharing your experience.

  • Casey Brazeal (North and Clark) says:

    I think it is always smart to make small changes to help you right, adjust your thinking or solve a problem. If you can change your point of view you can often spur creativity.

  • Andrew says:

    Casey this is a great post not just on finding things to write about, but even more importantly how to find the opportunity in every problem.

    I like to think that there is no such thing as problems, there are only situations that have no identified solutions…YET!

  • Angie (Losing It and Loving It) says:

    Plenty of problem issues in my niche so this is a helpful tip because sometimes you just don’t think about writing that type of post and it will definitely make good content. Thanks for the suggestion.

  • Casey Brazeal (North and Clark) says:

    Happy to help Angie. What’s your niche?

  • Arisu says:

    Great advice, talking about a problem is a great way to keep the ideas flowing, and people can really relate to them… all bloggers have days when they don´t know what to write about, we all had no clue at twitter when first started, etc.

    And thinking about how to solve something can also lead to new articles and new writing styles. Besides, every obstacle is a chance to improve ourselves.

  • David says:

    I wrote a post on this topic awhile ago and am always on the look out for any tips or ideas that will help me overcome this problem of writers block. This post was timely and the comments are awesome. I will leave this post with some real food for thought.

    Great post Casey.

  • Robomaster says:

    Again, great post! The writer’s block is really quite annoying, but if you learn to get over it, it’s not that hard to overcome. It takes practice, though. Lots of it.
    .-= My Latest Blog Post: CCleaner: The Complete Review =-.

  • Guest Post Round Up | North and Clark says:

    [...] Fight Writer’s Block: Creativity on Command [...]

  • Kunjal Kamdar says:

    Hey Casey,
    Very well said. Such posts will surely help us to Fight Writer’s Block.
    .-= My Latest Blog Post: Looking for someone? Start your search here =-.

  • Jörgen Sundberg says:

    I say keep a folder of topics you want to cover and break it out, pick the best out of a bad bunch and start writing!

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