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, the best way to alleviate a blogging brain freeze is just to write something you would never publish on your blog. Click To Tweet
Blogger’s Block Isn’t The Same Thing As Writer’s Block?
Blogger’s block is a bit more challenging. Blogging entails a lot more than technical writing.
Blogging requires writing, graphic design, search engine optimization, relationship building, social media promotion, time management, 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, and I mean REALLY 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.
What Brings On Blogger’s Block?
I can’t speak for everyone, but after blogging for more than 12 years and experience blogger’s block more than a handful of times, I figured out what brings it on for me.
Some people tend to think that writer’s block or blogger’s block come from not having enough ideas to formulate into articles, tweets, posts, videos, etc… In my experience, though, blogger’s block often comes when I’m tired, both from blogging and from other things going on my personal life.
It’s a combination of mental fatigue that just makes it difficult to concentrate, so I can’t seem wrap my head around one good post that I think my readers might like.I can’t get that image that I want to look exactly how I want it. I convince myself that not promoting my latest post on Facebook is OK, because it’s not that good anyway.Blogger's block is different from writer's block. With writer's block, you just can't write. With blogger's block, you can't write, create images, promote, etc... Click To Tweet
For me, blogger’s block is like writer’s block combined with information overload combined with a feeling of frustration that makes me just want to throw my hands up and stop blogging altogether. It’s rough.
For Me…The Answer Is Overly Simple
When that time comes, I find it’s just time to power down the computer, put the iPad away, put my phone on airplane mode and venture out into the great outdoors to get some inspiration from life.
You know…that thing that occurs when we’re not online? Trees, rivers, beavers, squirrels….outside. Sometimes, a good long walk (and I mean loooong) can help clear my head and crystallize an idea that I’ve been working on. Sometimes, it takes an extended break and a bit of a vacation.
I have done for as long as 6 months without publishing a single blog post because I just didn’t feel like the juice was worth the squeeze. The good news is I always find my mojo again. Something reminds me that I love to write. I love to help other people solve problems.
I enjoy the community and collaboration that social media offers. So, I come back to blogging.
Can You Recognize Blogger’s Block Before It Hits?
I can recognize it for me.
Not everyone is going to experience Blogger’s block in the same way. But I thought that maybe if I share a few of the triggers that I recognize, maybe it might help someone else identify when it’s looming for them.
For me, it’s jut a few things that occur:
Trigger #1 – I have more than 3 or 4 blog articles in the works, and I can’t seem to finish any of them.
This doesn’t mean I have 3 or 4 posts in draft format. Heck, at any given time I probably have 15-20 posts in draft format. Some of them will never be published. What this means is I have 3 or 4 posts that I am actively trying to get published and I’m frustrated because I can’t find the right angle, words, images, whatever…
I just keep bouncing between the posts and trying to shape them, which causes even more frustration.
Trigger #2 – I don’t want to talk about my blog.
Ask my friends and family…they usually can’t get me to shut up about social media and blogging. So, when I just don’t want to talk about it anymore, it’s a good sign that I’m frustrated. Sometimes, I’m just embarrassed by how crappy my writing feels.
Sometime, I read what I spend the last 45 minutes on and wonder whether I should be writing at all…This is usually the look.
It’s those times that self-doubt starts to creep in and I start wondering whether the time I spend writing is worth it.
Trigger #3 – My social media engagement drops.
This isn’t a given that I’m experiencing Blogger’s block. I tend to run hot and cold on social media. I’ll tweet, post, and pin like mad for a few months and then take a month off. These breaks often have a direct correlation with political/election season. The garbage that surfaces during these times makes it a bit useless to try to promote a helpful message, so it’s not rare to see my tweets, posts, and pins drop while the political fervor rages.
It’s Usually Not One Thing…It’s A Combination
Just one of those things doesn’t necessarily trigger my Blogger’s block. It’s usually a combination of things. Frustration with a few posts that I can’t get right, divisive posts on my Facebook and Twitter, and a desire to “not want to talk about it” all combine to a level of frustration that leads to Blogger’s block.
Powering Through The Block
There’s some real good news about Blogger’s block, though:
First, It’s not permanent. Let me repeat that….it’s NOT permanent.
Most of the time, it just requires a break. How long? That’s entirely up to you. A couple hours? A day? A month?
You’re going to have to figure out what amount of time you need to clear through the clutter and find your voice.
Second, in my experience it often leads to a breakthrough and a flood of good content.
Not that Blogger’s block is something to look forward to, but if you take some time away and really think through what you are trying to accomplish with your content, you might just get some clarity and find a good way to express your thoughts and opinions.
Third, you will probably end up with more ideas than you started with.
My Blogger’s block is sometimes triggered by trying to pack too many ideas into a single post. If I walk away and think it through, I sometimes find that that post wasn’t coming together because it’s actually 3 or 4 blog posts that I was trying to jam together into 2,000 words when it really requires 8,000 words to full explore the topic or topics.
The end result? Figuring out how to break that non-functional post into 3 or 4 different posts that work together in a series.
Just A Few Tips To Help Alleviate Blogger’s Block
Look, I’m not trying to sell rainbows and unicorns. Like I said at the beginning of this post, Blogger’s block sucks.Here are few of my tips to plow through blogger's block. What are yours? Click To Tweet
However, if you are aware of it and you address it, you can come out on the other side with a positive out come. Here are a few tips that I think help:
1) Know when it’s just not coming together – Chris Brogan once said that a blog post shouldn’t take more than 30 minutes to write. While I disagree with the arbitrary number, his point was that a well-formulated idea should come out pretty easily.
For most 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. Think through whether you are on the right track. If you are…keep going. If not, figure out why.
2) Asses your attitude while 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.
Writing should feel like it’s flowing out of you. It shouldn’t feel like you are having to yank ideas out of your head.
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 – Breaks are good. Take a vacation from social media altogether! I have had dry spells that lasted months because I just couldn’t come up with anything I felt was worth posting.
Was it the end of the world? No.
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 from the screen – Not only do I find it valuable to take some time off from writing, I take time and reduce my reading/interaction on Twitter and Facebook. I read physical books (yes…those paper things that pre-dated tablets and eReaders).
I spend a little more time having lunch and coffee conversations with friends and family. A lot of the time, those conversations end up as inspiration for blog post topics.
6) Focus on 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. Reach out and ask others how they get their mojo back. Be social on social media…
7) Write some drafts – Write just to write. Write some poetry. Write a love letter to your significant other. Write with a paper and pen.
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.
Instead, contribute your knowledge. Help someone solve a problem. Share a solution. It’s amazing how quickly I find “my value” when I’m helping other people.
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 really 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 experienced a serious case of Blogger’s block and had to take a break from writing? Why? How did you handle it? I’d love to hear some experiences in comments!