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Blogger’s block

Blogging takes discipline. Here’s what to do if you run out of words.

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I hit a blogging brick wall a couple of weeks ago. You may have spotted me whining on Twitter.

My posts slowed to one a week, a guest post or two, and then nothing.

It’s not that I’m ever stuck for ideas, far from it. But when I sat down to write, the words wouldn’t come.

It’s the same story with my column for The Drum. It dried up.

The web is littered with blogs that start in a wave of enthusiasm and then die. I’ve always been keen that this isn’t one of them.

The situation is straightforward to diagnose. Peak work, travel, family and personal life all collided.

Writers block isn’t something I have ever experienced before.

At various stage during my career, words have been a key performance metric. I’ve been paid to write by the word and file thousands of words on a deadline.

Writing is one of my favourite forms of expression and communication. It’s a means of thinking out loud and connecting with people.

A psychologist friend explained to me in simple terms. Your brain is full and your ability for critical reasoning and expression is weak, he said.

Taking time out

His solution? You need time out and then you need to make a deliberate effort to rediscover your craft.

I asked my Twitter network if they’d ever experienced writer’s block, and how they overcame it. It turns out that occasional periods of time out are an inevitability for anyone that blogs.

The solutions were various.

Practical solutions

Recognising the situation and taking a break is almost certainly the best place to start. The alternative is frustration and time wasted.

A break could be a run, bike ride or walk. Exercise almost always has a positive impact on mental health. Christian Payne, Gini Dietrich and Scott Guthrie all head outdoors.

Michael White suggested going to events and meeting new people as a source of inspiration.

Dom Burch said I should write about whatever was on my mind. Use it as a form of therapy. You don’t need to publish.

It’s a powerful and helpful insight. It’s possible that your best writing may never be published.

Fellow contributor to The Drum Stephen Kenwright urged me to find an old article or blog post and improve it.

I needed help getting back to my keyboard. Help to pick up a pen and scribble, or jot down random notes on my phone.

Both Sarah Hall and Christian Payne suggested finding a new project. Michael White turned a beer brewing project into a new blog. Several friends suggested art or craft.

Forcing yourself to write something every day was a suggestion from both Gini Dietrich and Dan Slee. Unsurprisingly both are disciplined writers.

Amanda Coleman has made this a personal project called #AYearInBlogs. She reflects on communication, media and her work as a public sector communicator.

My colleague Matt Silver suggested dumping thoughts daily to a dictaphone and return to the recording after a day or so for inspiration.

Another colleague Jim Lin suggested jotting down thoughts on Evernote. Lots of my blogs start as notes on my iPhone. It’s exactly how this blog started out.

Photo by Steven Lilley via Twitter.

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Stephen Waddington

Partner and Chief Engagement Officer, Ketchum and Visiting Professor in Practice, Newcastle University.

One Comment

  1. A great post, Stephen. It is somewhat comforting to know that even great writers such as yourself suffer from the occasional block or lack of inspiration. I have found that diving into non-professional writing (such as short fiction) sometimes help me get into a different place without any rules and with no audience to satisfy :-)

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