Change Your Writing Habits

CC photo from http://www.flickr.com/photos/xt0ph3r/504175032/

CC photo from http://www.flickr.com/photos/xt0ph3r/504175032/

Following a schedule can be an important way to manage your time, but sticking too closely to a routine can also hamper creativity. For this reason, it’s important to change your routine if you run into a writing wall.

Do you usually write with music playing? Try writing in silence. If you usually write in the same place, try somewhere different. Write in the lounge, kitchen or even the bathroom; anywhere where you can sit comfortably with a pen and a pad.

Also, you don’t need to stay within your own four walls. Why not try writing from somewhere else, like a coffee shop, an Internet café or a local working space. You may also find that working with a friend gets your motivation and creative juices flowing.

Write Free

Many bloggers who are used to churning out large quantities of copy end up using a formula for creating content. This is a sure-fire way to stifle creativity. It can speed up writing and help to add structure, but when no ideas are coming to you at all, no amount of structure is going to help! Try your hand at some free verse, as the poets call it – write whatever comes into your mind, and somewhere along the line, it’s likely that a gem of an idea will come out.

Distract Yourself

Sometimes it’s better to distract yourself than to continue focusing on your writing. Some people get their best ideas in the shower or while walking the dogs, doing the laundry or washing the dishes, rather than when they knuckle down to do some writing. Why not train yourself to carry a pen and pad wherever you go, so that next time inspiration strikes when you’re busy with something, you can jot down your ideas for reference later on.

Go Multi-Media

A blog doesn’t have to consist only of copy. A good set of photographs, a montage of video clips or even a playlist of music can be the core of a blog post. This can provide a welcome break from methodical typing for you, as well as something fresh for your readers.

Revisit Your Personal History

Look through photo albums, old journals, school reports and whatever other records you have at your disposal to remind yourself who you used to be and how you’ve changed. Reviewing your personal history may remind you about things you’re passionate about. You may also choose to share a personal anecdote with your readers. This is a good way to make them feel included and special to you.

Keep an Ear to the Street

In blogging, keeping an ear to the street may involve keeping track of other blogs you like, checking current events via social networking or just browsing through your Facebook and Twitter feeds. Anything interesting or inspiring may be the seed of a great new post.

Start in the Middle of the Post

We all know that a powerful introduction is the best way to grab your readers’ attention, but often that’s where writers get stuck. It can help to get out the bulk of the content, and then go back to the beginning with a better idea of exactly what it is that you’re introducing.

Return to an Old Post of Yours

Besides possibly providing a chuckle at your early writing style and use of vocabulary, looking at your own old writing will remind you of all the things you’ve learnt over your time as a blogger. Another benefit is that you may come across a piece that can be rewritten. The context of the content or your opinion on a matter may have changed, or you may simply believe that you can write a piece more elegantly and convincingly.

Let your Readers Decide

If you have an active audience that contributes comments, these are a great source for new ideas and inspiration. Trawl through the comments for ideas and opinions that spark your interest. You may even decide to add a “topic suggestion box” to your blog for this purpose.

Find your “Golden Hour”

In photography, the “golden hour” is a time of day; usually just after sunset, light illuminates objects in just the right way for photographers. As a writer, you may also have a golden hour, a time at which you’re the most productive and inspired. Some writers are night owls, some are early risers, and some are weekend warriors; find the pattern of activity that suits you best and use it to your advantage. Know when your productive and creative slumps typically occur, and use those times to unwind.

Bonus tip

Sometimes considering the different types, or formats, of content can help you broaden your writing horizons. Consider ten approaches you can choose to take:

  • Instructional: teach your readers how to do something
  • Informational: provide thorough information on a specific topic
  • Reviews: review a movie, book, album or play
  • Lists: lists are a great way of breaking down content into chunks that are both easy to write and easy for your audience to read
  • Interviews: conduct an interview in person or via correspondence and share the results
  • Rant: everyone needs a good rant sometimes, and this can make for some impassioned writing
  • Inspirational: write content that will help with an emotional, intellectual or physical challenge
  • Prediction and Review: make a prediction and later in the year, follow it up with a review
  • Hypothetical: write a “what if” post and let your imagination run wild
  • Satirical: pick a recent, topical event and provide your readers with a humorous or satirical take on it