Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Blog Blocked

If writer's block wasn't bad enough, I'm seeing a lot of excuse posts out there in NetPubland that could all be titled "Why I'm Not Blogging." Makes me think a good portion of the online writing community has developed a raging case of blog block.

It's understandable. Anyone who is now trying to keep up with the demands of the social media promo trend has got to be exhausted; I honestly don't know how you all do it. If I had to spend that much time twitting and facebooking and scribbling I wouldn't even want to look at PBW, much less keep it updated.

There's also a kind of blog plateau one tends to hit after a few years where you feel as if you've said everything you have to say about yourself and your favorite topics, and you're starting to repeat the same things over and over. No one is the Energizer Bunny; everyone's batteries run low at some point or another.

I don't think anyone should keep a blog going for no good reason. If your blog has become a chore, you might have more fun twitting or facebooking or whatever. But if you're still passionate about blogging, and are just having a tough time putting together your posts, there are other things you can do besides phoning it in.

The first step around any kind of block is to see it for what it is: an obstacle that is in your way, and that should be treated accordingly. You can't go forward until you find a way around it, over it or through it, so stop making excuses for the block and why it's there, and start using your creativity.

Some suggestions on how to head in a new direction with your blog:

Listing: If the words just aren't there, make up some lists of interesting things: books you make other people read, movies that made you cry, songs you loved in high school. I love to make lists of free things that anyone can access online because everyone likes free stuff.

Other Interests: If your blog has been focused relentlessly on Publishing, take a look at something outside the industry that also interests you. If you have a hobby that is unrelated to writing, discuss it (I spent a year basically playing with my digital camera and posting the results each day, and that experiment inspired countless posts here on PBW in 2009.)

Self-Challenge: Set a writing challenge for yourself, ala NaNoWriMo, and blog about the experience, especially any new ways you find to solve problems with the WIP.

Switch Gears: if all you've been posting about is centered around you (your life, your writing, your family, your TBR, etc.) write a post about someone else. Pick someone you've never before written about on your blog and tell a story about them (I never wrote about my guy's mom until I put together this post about her Italian sausage sauce.) Write about one of your personal heroes, or someone who had tremendous influence over you in some part of your life. Discuss the most aggravating person you've ever encountered, or the kindest, or the strangest.

Themed Posts: Put together a pile of links to other places with a common theme. One week when I wasn't feeling especially creative I had a lot of fun looking around for links to art made of Post-It Notes, books, pens and words.

Visuals: Post an image or images that you find inspiring, interesting, unbelievable, bizarre or in some other way brings out a strong emotional response, and talk about why it does.

There are also plenty of sites out there that offer writing prompts, sparks and other jumpstarts for your blogging. Among them:

Creativity Portal has a one-button imagination prompt generator that asks questions you can turn into blog posts.

The Write Prompts offers a schedule of blog prompts for every day of the week: Journal Mondays, Image Tuesdays, Poetry Wednesdays, One Word Thursdays, Movie Fridays, Continue One Saturdays and Quote Sundays.

Writer's Block Archive over on LiveJournal offers thoughtful questions to blog about as well as archived answers from LJ'ers, too.

The Northern Nevada Writing Project's Writing Fix site has a pretty decent writing prompt generator that could give you some ideas for your blog as well.

And finally, maybe you just need to do a little creative doodling. Zentangles aren't about writing, they're just about that thing most of us do when we're thinking and have a pen in hand -- doodling. It may not seem important to doodle, but I've found it can give your mind a little breather when you're feeling blog blocked. All you need are paper and something to draw with (pencil, pen, marker, whatever.) If you're not familiar with the technique, you can find a step-by-step tutorial here.

10 comments:

  1. Very timely, lol.
    Will definitely come in handy.
    Thanks!

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  2. Excellent blog that i enjoyed my reading here.

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  3. Excellent post! Thanks for the links. For me i didn't have a list of resolutions this year, instead i posted my decluttering list. I've a number of community blogs(writer/reader focused) as well as my personal one - i wasn't use fb, LJ, myspace and twitter enough to be affective, so i got rid of them. Felt very nice!! :)

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  4. I love these tips. I don't have any problem coming up with blog topics. I divide my blog between marketing info, homesteading and Prudent Penny posts.

    My problem is finding the time to write these posts.

    During the holidays, I managed to write quite a few future posts, but now my time is getting squeezed again.

    Obviously, I need another holiday.

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  5. Lynn said: "The first step around any kind of block is to see it for what it is: an obstacle that is in your way, and that should be treated accordingly. You can't go forward until you find a way around it, over it or through it, so stop making excuses for the block and why it's there, and start using your creativity."

    This was my favorite part. How many times have I made up excuses (which seemed like such legitimate "reasons") for a block instead of just dealing with it?

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  6. Anonymous10:28 AM

    Oh, Lynn. Sing it, sistah. I'm not blogging because I'm a novelist who wants to write books, damn it.

    I long for the good ol' days, when writers could simply write good novels, instead of having to allocate what little precious writing time they can squeak out from the day job doing all this extranneous social networking crap that "someone" thinks - but certainly can't prove - sells books.

    Sometimes I think publishers have shot themselves in the foot by transitioning so much responsibility for promo to the author - whose expertise is, um, emphatically NOT PROMO. To quote Dr. McCoy, "I'm a novelist, not a publicist!"

    As an author who increasingly resents spending what little writing time I have developing a marketing plan filled with social networking activities that everyone tells you you "have" to do - but which no one can prove actually results in sales - thank you for letting me get this off my chest. END RANT.

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  7. Great links! Thank you so much!

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  8. Unlike Anonymous, I actually LIKE blogging... but I am so worn thin, and I don't want to bore readers...

    Thanks so much for the advice! Maybe I'll get that blog posted today!

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  9. The first step around any kind of block is to see it for what it is: an obstacle that is in your way, and that should be treated accordingly. You can't go forward until you find a way around it, over it or through it, so stop making excuses for the block and why it's there, and start using your creativity.

    I wish I could figure out how to apply this to my novel writing first. I think the blogging would come easy if I could get past this block. I've gotten so wrapped up in this stupid chapter, I'm ready to throw it all in the fireplace and have done with it. *sigh* It's almost become not fun anymore.

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  10. I need this list for my novel, not my blog. >.>

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