Monday, November 9, 2015

#NABloPoMo Day 9 - 6 ways to beat writer's block

NaBloPoMo November 2015

Writer's block is an often discussed topic in blogging communities. I am no writer and I haven't been writing for years. But as I understand through our discussions, it is the inability to come up with new ideas and blog consistently. It's either lack of ideas or not being able to write well about them. I think it also includes not having enough motivation to actually sit down and produce some work. It's a strange procrastination that grips us once we keep stalling the act of writing.

I have been through the "What the hell do I write about" phase during the early days of my blogging. In fact, that was a such a large thought bubble that I did not blog for a year and gave it up as a lost cause. I reluctantly came back to write sporadically about something that caught my eye or something I felt strongly about and had to write. But as time passed by, I realised that there are a lot of things I could write about. I just had to be alert to things around me. Over time, I have learnt a few things that can keep the steady flow of ideas going and you could actually sit down to write about. Here's my secret recipe to beat writer's block:

1. Carry a tiny notebook: Or notes app of your phone will do too. When I first came across this advice, I pfffft-ed it and thought who can carry a book all the time. But an extra Moleskin book that I did know what to do with ended up in my hand bag became my write-ideas-as-they-occur-to-you-book. And you can see that I have used just a couple of the #NaBloPoMo prompts so far. I have so many of my own ideas!

2. Planning the posts: I don't mean create an editorial schedule of which post goes out when. I haven't done it even for my professional blog, let alone the personal one where I want to be my own unbridled self! I mean - pick an idea that appeals the most to you at the time and jot down points that come to your mind. For instance, I have thought of writer's block and points have occurred to me at different times - and the little book to the rescue. (I am also someone who needs some distance between writing and posting. New points will mostly occur to me when I let my ideas stew a bit) So when I sat down to write today, my points were ready. I am less likely to think of more after I have posted this. And the structure is ready for me to follow.

3. Posts can be short/varied: For years, I have believed that a blog post should be long. Or I think I have had so much to say about any topic I feel strongly about that short posts never worked for me. But as I read other people's blogs and was exposed to ideas like microblogging Mondays and wordless wednesdays, I realised that all posts need not resemble a thesis. I could talk about a quick point I had to make and be done with it. I did not have to research a lifetime worth of material to get a post done. And posting pictures and writing about them is so much fun. I guess it's fun reading them too. Though I still believe that blog posts should be meaty so that people aren't disappointed.

4. Write in the morning: Another piece of advice I thought was buhawkee! But then I still don't mean you need to be up at 4 am to finish your post. I don't do that either and am mostly struggling to meet the 12am deadline for the day (like today!) But the output is a lot better and stress free if you get some typing done in the morning. Not much - maybe arrive at work 15 minutes early and start working on the post of the week. You can add a bit during lunch too. Writing at the end of the day can be tiring and harder to stick to. (In fact, I am so used to racing against time that I forgot I had written in the morning on Nov 1 and was ready to chase the deadline the same night!)

5. Type straight on the blog screen: I have started doing this only recently - for the blogging challenge actually. I used to keep jotting ideas and partial posts in a word doc, almost finish writing there and then paste into the blog. I think the editing work increases because the look changes from a word doc to a blog screen. For some reason I haven't properly figured out yet, it just seem easier to straight away type here. Even the future drafts. That way I know what's in the pipeline.

6. Write when inspiration hits you: I am sure the best of writers never got a brilliant idea every single day of their lives. Everyone goes through a dry spell once in a while. Especially so when we are a burnt out generation mostly juggling jobs, family, kids, taxes, social media, traffic and a lot more at any given point in time. So, if you find yourself swamped with life around you, relax! Let it be for a bit. If you are scared people might forget you or you don't want to leave a gaping hole of your absence on your blog, you can reblog/repost stuff from the internet. Add a quick introductory paragraph to it for context. Your readers come to your blog to read interesting stuff and they will get it any which way. You can always find stories related to your blog which you can share.

Do you agree with what I said here? Do you still think there's writer's block? Feel free to send me your comments. I'd love to know what I might be missing in my understanding of the phenomenon.

5 comments:

  1. Interesting post, Suman! Interestingly, I got some ideas to work on while reading this post. Must say that these practical pointers are of great help. I am sure that there's a good chance I'll end up publishing something soon.. Thanks once again!

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  2. Thanks for your encouraging words, Akshay! I am glad I could be of some help.

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  3. I agree with #1and #3 completely. Not so much with #2 and #5 but I am sure they work for others. About #4, I wish ! :(
    I agree with #6 in theory but I don't know how to reblog with blogger. Isn't that a WP feature?
    About short posts, that's how I got to flash fiction and now I love it :).

    Very well written post, Suman. Very clear and concise points :)

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  4. Having written about my children every week for 13 years without ever missing my deadline, I'm slightly sceptical about many claims of 'Writer's Block.' The one thing I would say is never, ever, let an idea for a blog post escape. There's no feeling worse than having a brilliant idea and then forgetting it. So the notebook is good - just get an idea down anywhere. But don't rely on inspiration. As Stephen King says, "Amateurs sit & wait for inspiration. Professionals just get up and go to work."

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    1. Thanks so much for sharing your experience, Mark! I agree with never letting an idea escape and the little notebook is very handy indeed! Hope to see around soon!

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