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.
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.
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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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!