Bloggers Block – When The Words Just Won’t Come

Bloggers block can be a real pain! Do you have tips to overcome the challenge?

Frustrated courtesy of MartinaK15 on Flickr via Creative Commons

Writer’s block sucks. Blogger’s block sucks more. And believe me…there is a difference.

For me, writer’s block doesn’t mean I can’t write, it means that I can’t write about what I want to write about. No matter what I type, it’s just not right. In my days of writing technical books, the easiest way for me to navigate writer’s block was to just take a break from my project, spend some time resting my brain, and then write something non-technical.

For instance, I’m a sucker for a good Haiku. Something about the formal structure, combined with the possibilities for wordplay and blended concepts draws me to this form of poetry. Look, I’m not saying I’m good at it…I just enjoy the process and how it often challenges me to think in a different way, while relaxing my brain and allowing me to think peripherally about how to make my next technical chapter flow better.

Sometimes taking a break from writing technical material and just writing something fun can break down writers block

Writing a haiku often helps me accomplish something, even if it’s not very good. Here’s the link to the shirt.

Blogger’s block, on the other hand, is a bit more challenging.

Blogging often entails a lot more than technical writing. Blogging requires writing, graphic design, search engine optimization, relationship building, social promotion, and a lot more. And for me, blogger’s block occurs when I not only can’t write on my own blog, but often stops me from being able to do all the other activities that come with blogging. When I’m that stuck, I can’t even digest ideas from other people’s blogs, I find it challenging to create new graphics, or even say something constructive when commenting on other people’s blogs. Basically, Bloggers block comes when I am completely burned out on reading, writing, creating and commenting.

Yech.

And what brings it on is never an absence of great content out there. To the contrary, there’s so much that I just can’t seem wrap my head around one good post that I think my readers might like. Basically, it’s like writer’s block combined with information overload.

When that time comes, I find it’s just time to power down the computer, put the iPad away, hide my phone and venture out into the great outdoors and get some inspiration from life.

You know…that thing that occurs when we’re not online?

But recognizing it isn’t always that easy. So, here are a few tips that can help you identify bloggers block and some suggestions on how to power through it:

  1. Knowing when it’s just not coming – If I remember correctly, Chris Brogan once said that a blog post shouldn’t take more than 30 minutes to write (Sorry, Chris if that wasn’t you). For some of us, it takes a bit longer, but if you’ve been working on the same post for more than 90 minutes…stop. Take a break.
  2. How is your attitude toward what you’re writing? – If you don’t like what you’re writing, it’s likely no one else will either. Stop writing, read what you have and determine whether maybe you just don’t have the passion right now. It’s okay…it will come back.
  3. Get a second opinion – Ask your spouse, significant other, or friend to read your work. Do they think its coming along? Maybe you’re just being overly self-critical. Remember, as authors we are our worst critics.
  4. Recognizing that a break is okay – At one point, I didn’t post for about two months because I just couldn’t come up with anything worth posting. Was it the end of the world? Did my readers all leave and flock to new blogs? Probably not, but if taking a week off from posting means the death of my blog, then I have bigger issues to worry about.
  5. Give your brain a break – Not only did a take some time off from writing, I significantly reduced my reading/interaction on Twitter and Facebook. I read books (yes…those paper things that pre-dated tablets and eReaders). I had great conversations in real life. I took a break from the digital space.
  6. Focus a source of inspiration – There is nothing like a good Muse. Find a person or a few people who inspire you to write. Read their stuff, but don’t focus on their content, focus on why they are writing. Read their “About Me” page. Find out why they like to write. Remind yourself why you like to write.
  7. Write some drafts – Write just to write. Put something on paper or type something electronically that you never intend to publish. Just get the words out. They might be junk, but more likely they will become the starting points for future posts.
  8. Try Commenting – Maybe just reading a few articles and leaving some comments will help you get going. Be cautious, however, if you’re grumpy about your own writing, resist the temptation to stir the pot and engage in online arguments or flame wars.
  9. Help someone else write – Show them how gratifying it is to write. Share the passion. Remember why we do this and help someone else in their writing journey. It’s amazingly fulfilling to see the light in someone eyes, knowing that you were a part of growing the passion.
  10. Get some perspective – Unless you are writing for a living, taking a break doesn’t hurt anything. Let your readers know you’re going to take a break, then check back periodically with a short update on where you’re at. Who knows, your break might just turn into a series about taking a break.

Like mine did….

So, what do you think? Have you ever had to take a break from your blog? Why? How did you handle it? I’d love to hear some experiences in comments!

Cheers!

–Sean

 

  • http://ikohaus.blogspot.com/ Carlos Romero

    Bloggers block can truly be a serious issue. When followers are looking forward to your content, but because you can’t write anything, your content becomes stale and followers will quickly lose interest in reading you as there is already such a glut of information and blogs passing their way.

    • http://www.socmedsean.com Sean R. Nicholson

      Completely agree, Carlos. But I’d rather there be a gap between my posts and make sure they are of high quality than churn out low-quality articles. It’s definitely a tough balance!

      Thanks for your comment!

      –Sean

  • http://mikadouglas.tumblr.com Mika Douglas

    Of course everyone has a mental block. For me, when I have a lot on mind and am quite distracted, the words just don’t flow. I give myself permission to just let go. I know that I will formulate an entire peace in my mind if I just rough out an outline. Give it a day and the words usually begin to flow.

    • http://www.socmedsean.com Sean R. Nicholson

      Great internal advice, Mika! Sometimes doing something else gets those creative juices flowing!

      Cheers!

      –Sean

  • Harold Gardner

    Often a bit of exercise helps me get focused.

    • http://www.socmedsean.com Sean R. Nicholson

      Great tip, Harold! I sometimes come up with my best content ideas while mowing the lawn. The combo of exercise and time to think really makes a difference.

      Cheers!

      –Sean

  • http://www.socialitesos.com Jo Greenwood

    I’ve really had this bad over the last couple of weeks. Seemingly no explanation for it but I think occasionally I go through periods of blogging fatigue! It happens every now and again and I find that a short break from it totally helps me. Beating myself up and trying harder only seems to make it worse.

    • http://www.socmedsean.com Sean R. Nicholson

      I think the key is not to beat ourselves up too much. If our focus is on good quality content, then it’s best to just relax and let the good stuff come, rather than force content that isn’t up to par.

      Good luck getting through the bloggers block, Jo! Let us know how it goes!

      –Sean

  • http://www.thecorporatethiefbeats.com Corporatethief Beats

    Some little gems here in this post. I always tell myself I’l just write for 10 minutes if I get bored that’s It

    • http://www.socmedsean.com Sean R. Nicholson

      Great tip! In other words…don’t force it!

      Cheers!

      –Sean

  • http://www.hometoindy.com Paula Henry

    I’ve taken a break many times. I totally agree with taking a break from digital space. For me, it just fills my head with entirely different subjects that what I should be focused on. We’ve all been there…………a tweet leads to a page where another story must be read, which links to an article we must recommend and on it goes. Getting another’s perspective also works for me. I often have my husband read and he always has insight.

    • http://www.socmedsean.com Sean R. Nicholson

      I, too, get some of my best leads from reading other content. I often find myself in cycles of writing a lot and then reading a lot. The best content comes when I’m both reading and writing :)

      Cheers!

      –Sean

  • Pingback: M.Ed, HRD: Jess Hill- Reflections of an adult learner - ADLT 641: Catching up

  • http://www.blogplustweet.com/blog.html Matt Hayden

    I find that keeping posts in draft mode for a while is a sure way to build them up to a decent length as well as improve the quality. Basically I just throw down my thoughts quickly, then stop when they’re not flowing. I have a look at the draft a few days later and it will provoke some more ideas, which I”ll add. Then on the third or even fourth go, maybe several weeks later, I’ll finish it off and publish it.

    • http://www.socmedsean.com Sean R. Nicholson

      Great points, Matt. I have so many posts in draft mode…it’s crazy. Sometimes, when I don’t have any new content to write, I dust off one of those in draft mode and finish it up. It’s a great way to keep content flowing.

      To get there, though, I had to train myself that sometimes it’s okay to just let the post stay in draft mode and walk away from it for a while. I used to be tempted to push through so I could push the “Publish” button. Definitely a mind-shift.

      Cheers!

      –Sean

  • http://www.techtricksworld.com/2013/01/does-blogging-reduce-stress.html Atish Ranjan

    This kind of situation happens with every blogger. I am having this situation too but I get ideas from comments on my blog, FB group discussions and sometimes real life experience. Nice post.

    • http://www.socmedsean.com Sean R. Nicholson

      Thanks, Atish!

      I definitely agree that some of the best ideas come from interacting and engaging with others. I can’t tell you how may conversations (online and offline) ended up with me thinking or saying “that would be a great blog post”.

      Cheers!

      –Sean

  • http://techzane.com yash

    This has happen to me.. Today itself luckily.. My brother helped me with it.. Discussion is the cure to Blogger’s block trust me..!! Great article .. really!! thanks Sean!

  • http://www.thehirsutismhub.com Monica

    Happening to me right now. Glad I am not alone! Before I found this article, something told me to rest my cranium and jump back into when something inspires me. Thanks alot for this!

    • http://www.socmedsean.com Sean R. Nicholson

      Glad it helped, Monica! Come back and post a link to your next blog so we can see how you overcame the bloggers block :)

      Cheers!

      –Sean

  • http://ourcookiejournal.blogspot.co.uk Kevin

    I agree about taking a break – preferably a walk. The fresh air, change of scenery and the exercise itself help clear the cobwebs.

Read previous post:
Does the integration of BuddyMedia with Salesforce and Radian6 offer an incredible social engagement platform?
SalesForce Marketing Cloud – The Next Step In Social Media Engagement?

The combination of Salesforce.com, Radian6 and BuddyMedia may very well offer a powerful tool for organizations who are interested in...

Close