13 Idea-Starters for Stuck Bloggers

The dreaded “writer’s block” afflicts us all from time to time. I struggle with it almost weekly. Occasionally, I have an easy run of several days, when the ideas seem to flow effortlessly. But that is rare. Most weeks, I get stuck at least once or twice.

Photo courtesy of ©iStockphoto.com/pmphoto, Image #3482598

Photo courtesy of ©iStockphoto.com/pmphoto

So what do I do? What can you do? Here are thirteen idea-starters. I offer these up as possibilities for lighting a fire when your brain is damp:

  1. Tell a personal story. This almost always works, because you harness the power of your own personal narrative. It is particularly good if it is dramatic, and you feel the freedom to be transparent. It is helpful if you can conclude with a lesson or two that you have learned. Example: “What Does This Make Possible?
  2. Describe a historical event. This is very similar to using a personal story. History is full of great stories. It’s one of the reasons why I am almost always reading a history book of some kind or a biography. Again, you can tell the story and distill the lessons. Example: “Two Things Great Leaders Must Do in Turbulent Times.”
  3. Review a book, movie, or software program. This is a great way to share some of the resources you have found and why you liked them. It can also help your readers avoid products or experiences that were not so helpful. What are some of your favorite resources? Example: “Book Review: Same Kind of Different As Me.”
  4. Comment on a powerful quote. I can’t read a book without underlining the passages that impress me. Occasionally, I go back and post the quotes that stand alone. Also, from time to time, I post the quote and that comment on why a particular quote was meaningful. Example: “Don’t Wake Up Dead.”
  5. Let a great photograph inspire you. Behind every great photo is a story. You may know the story or you may not. Regardless, you can find one in the photo. Some of the best ones are posted on Flickr.com. You can use these in accordance with a Creative Commons License. Example: “Learning to Recognize Wow.”
  6. Comment on something in the news. This can be something global or something that is specific to your industry. If you are a thought-leader—or trying to establish yourself as a thought-leader—this is a great way to do that. Example: “Why the Authors Guild Is Off Base About the Kindle 2.”
  7. Report on an interesting conversation. I meets lots of interesting people. Some of them I meet at work; some of them I meet in my social life. Regardless, rarely a week goes by that I am not deeply stimulated by a conversation I have had. Why not blog on that? Example: “Twitter as a Leadership Tool.”
  8. Provide a step-by-step explanation for how to do something. When you provide five steps to this, or four strategies for that, people gobble it up. I think all of us have a need for down-to-earth, practical help with the items that interest us. Example: “How to Update Your Facebook Status With Twitter.”
  9. Provide a list of resources. This is a huge way to give back to your industry or community. It is easy to take for granted what you know. You are probably sitting on priceless information that others would die to have access to. Resource lists are a great way to build traffic. Example: “Literary Agents Who Represent Christian Authors.”
  10. Answer your readers’ questions. My readers ask some of the best questions. Sometimes they email them. Sometimes they put them in the comments of an older posts. Often they just Twitter them to me. I assume that if one person has the question, so do others. By answering these you demonstrate that you are listening. Example: “How Much Times Does Twittering Really Take?
  11. Make a seemingly overwhelming task simple. There is a huge audience for anyone who can make complex things simple. Provide a conceptual model, an outline, or an introduction to something you take for granted. Example: “Advice to First-Time Authors” and especially “Writing a Winning Book Proposal.”
  12. Explain the rationale behind a decision. Intelligent people want to know why you do what you do. That is what makes everyone so interesting. You can explain the rational behind almost any decision you have made, and it will be instructive for others. Example: “Why Every Author Needs a Powerful Online Presence.”
  13. Write a guide to something popular. This is especially good for technology topics—anything where people feel overwhelmed. I have written introductions to social networking, how to stay on top of email, and how to create a life plan. They key is not to assume the reader knows anything about the topic. Example: “The Beginner’s Guide to Twitter.”

Next time you get stuck, you might want to pull this list out and review it. Sometimes, all it takes is a spark to re-ignite the fire.

Question: what other idea-starters do you use as a blogger or a writer?
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  • Gloria

    WOW, Thanks SOOOOO Much for this. I've been STRUGGLING.

  • Gloria

    WOW, Thanks SOOOOO Much for this. I've been STRUGGLING.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/dannyjbixby dannyjbixby

    Excellent, practical list. Thanks!

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/dannyjbixby dannyjbixby

    Excellent, practical list. Thanks!

  • http://elisabethblack-writer.blogspot.com/ Elisabeth Black

    Blogging well is predicated on the belief that life is brimming with interest.

  • http://elisabethblack-writer.blogspot.com/ Elisabeth Black

    Blogging well is predicated on the belief that life is brimming with interest.

  • Doug Rosbury

    The most missing quality in any attempt to write is PASSION PASSION
    PASSION Passion is dampenend by daily admonitions to be nice and Guilt
    that we are not being true to our religious teachings. How can we possibly
    feel any passion when we are under assault and prevented from doing our own thinking? Guilt is the foremost inhibition to feeling passion. Give up the
    guilt and let the passion flow!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Allow your feelings free rein FEEL
    FEEL FEEL. Let the river flow. Open the flood gate.————-Doug

  • Doug Rosbury

    The most missing quality in any attempt to write is PASSION PASSION
    PASSION Passion is dampenend by daily admonitions to be nice and Guilt
    that we are not being true to our religious teachings. How can we possibly
    feel any passion when we are under assault and prevented from doing our own thinking? Guilt is the foremost inhibition to feeling passion. Give up the
    guilt and let the passion flow!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Allow your feelings free rein FEEL
    FEEL FEEL. Let the river flow. Open the flood gate.————-Doug

  • http://alexmarestaing.wordpress.com alex marestaing

    Thanks Michael, gotta put this one in my favorites for future reference. I personally love telling personal stories, however simple. There’s depth in that simplicity that usually hits me in the face as I write.

  • Serenamom

    Great ideas- very timely, too as I site here wondering what to write for my weekly newspaper column…Thanks!

  • http://www.fearless.com Marq zimmons

    What an excellent list of tips to help overcome that day of the damp match. I must admit, that is something that I have experienced in the past. There is another option that may need including, that is surfing your inner-net. Spelt correctly and not the www, it is surfing your inner self and allowing your mind to have a break, a rest, giving time fir the creative juices to flow again. Like your blog very much. Atb Marq

  • http://shine4himphoto.wordpress.com Nicole

    Very interesting. My entire blog centers around #5, and occasionally involves #1 and #7. I’m not sure how I would integrate some of the others without looking unfocused, though.

  • Drdavidpatton

    Hi Michael

    Lots of really great ideas. A v useful post. One I’m sure I’ll come back to.

    Something I something write about is common mistakes I see people making in a given area and then suggest some alternatives.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Alejandra-M-Howard/100002094442967 Alejandra M. Howard

    Great article! Designing Social Responsibility, for me, is quite amazing and very creative too. It widens up your mind or awareness towards social responsibility and learn it’s importance.
    Being creative in showing your way of life really designer fendi neckties allures me. Then success will be a colorful one. Keep it up!

  • http://twitter.com/QueenofDfamily Amy Dixon

    Hopefully you won’t tell me this is a blogging no-no. LOL. When I am truly stuck for an idea, I go back and read old blog posts. I will occasionally repost that blog post, and talk about how things have changed since then, or how that particular post changed something in my life. 

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      That’s okay, provided you change the content enough so that Google doesn’t think it’s a duplicate. The search engines will penalize you for that. Thanks.

  • John Mark Harris

    Take a 5 hour energy, stare in the mirror and say “hey, write somethin’ you sorry so-n-so” if that doesn’t work, go read to the elderly.

  • http://www.forward-living.com W. Mark Thompson

    Glad I came across this post. I have to say it’s one of the top 10 I’ve read for sure. I’ve wondered if you ever struggle with what to write about EVERY DAY.

    These ideas are great conversational starters! Think I’ll print this and refer to it regularly… unless that’s not allowed. If that’s the case, ignore that last comment.  :)

    Thanks!

     

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Absolutely. Print it! And, yes, I do often get stuck—which is why I wrote this!

  • Ivanhoe Sánchez

    This is probably the post that has taken me the most time to read! I kept going back and forth from your example posts. Probably the most useful, for the same reason. Thanks.

  • http://www.needleforthechristianbubble.com Joe Lalonde

    Snagging ideas for the soon to be started blog. Thanks for sharing this on Facebook again.

  • http://twitter.com/EltonHorton Elton Horton

    14. Write a blog about writing blogs.

  • http://www.liveitforward.com Kent Julian

    Great advice, Michael!  Thanks for being so helpful in motivating and challenging us to live and lead on purpose.

  • http://neilreynolds.wordpress.com Neil Reynolds

    This is very helpful! I’ve been reading your blog for about a month and you have so many practical, helpful insights. Thanks for sharing!

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  • http://www.thadthoughts.com/ Thad Puckett

    How did you or Linked in (where I saw this post) know I needed this today?

    I have had a struggle in the past several months to come up with ideas, and in the past week to even want to write. I have been exceptionally busy at work, and when I get home or get to the weekend the last thing I want to confront is the need to start or finish a post.

    I surely hope the dry season is indeed seasonal. At the beginning of 2012 blog ideas seemed to jump out by the dozens. Now they see farther and farther apart.

  • Emily L. Moore

    Often I find I get great idea’s for a blog post while I’m out driving or cleaning, anything but trying to write. So I write down the idea in my phone to save for a later day when I have writers block and need some inspiration. Sometimes I use that topic, sometimes it gives me an idea for another topic.

    Thanks for the suggestions, Michael! I will be keeping these close!

  • Brigitte Cobb

    Well this comes just at the right time :-)
    Thanks Michael

  • http://adamwerneckeart.com/ Adam Wernecke

    Bam! Thanks dude, I was wigging out a bit thinking about how my blog hadn’t had an update in a few days… or more. Great story, gave me an idea, and the post is up and out. Its good to be connected to awesome people. Relationships are everything, people inspire and motivate each other to get things done and be the best they can be!

  • Rebecca Kennedy

    Where’s your Pinterest button? I want to Pin it for later.