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Tips for Creative Writing – Even When You’re Not Feeling Inspired

innovation-73327_640Let’s be honest for a moment.

When you blog – you spend a lot of time writing.

And most of the time – it’s great! It goes well.

If you do it enough to have a readership – where people listen to you and respond to what you say – then you’ve got something going on, no question.

Once you’ve established yourself as a good writer in this way, it can be kind of easy to just sit back on your laurels a little bit, and assume that the ideas and quality will flow from you quite naturally.

Sometimes they do, and sometimes they really, really don’t.

But you almost always need to be producing anyway, whether it’s for your own blog, or a guest post for someone else’s; deadlines must be met, and promises must be kept.

When it doesn’t work, it feels pretty terrible – like you’re bad at what you do – and if you’re so awful at blogging, how can you be good at anything and that feeling just makes it harder to write because your confidence is shot and on and on and on.

We need to nip these feelings in the bud, and so today I’d like to talk about some tips for creative writing, researching and idea generation so you can get back to work even when you don’t feel like it, and how to get over the little times when nothing seems to be working.

Finding New Ideas

When you have to write about the same topic day after day after week after month, it can be a little hard to get the momentum going. At a certain point, it gets hard to come up with new ideas without scraping the bottom of the barrel.

There are a few different things you can do to get back in the saddle with creative and interesting blog posts.

Problogger has a wonderful list of 20 techniques that will get you scouring the web and your brain for new topics and ideas.

Social Media Examiner rises to the occasion with 7 ways you can glean ideas from the social web.

Write to Done, with its endless supply of great ideas, has a collection of 201 ways to arouse your creativity when you’re feeling a little uninspired.

Of course, you should also ALWAYS keep a running file of different ideas, thoughts and opinions that frustrate or excite you, and headlines you think you’d like to work with someday. This list or archive will be your #1 go-to for ideas when you get stuck.

Getting Over Writer’s Block

Sometimes the issue isn’t finding something new to write about so much as actually getting it to sound as good on the screen as it does in your head.

This can be a really annoying feeling and we all get it once in a while. The dreaded writer’s block where, whether you’ve got ideas or not, nothing good will come of them. Writers block comes in all sorts of flavors  and affects everyone at some point, but that doesn’t make it acceptable. Not when a blog post needs to be done now.

One way to handle it is to have a writing system, like the one we teach in Write Like Freddy,where, if you’re in doubt about what to write, you can just trust the process and follow the steps.

Other people prefer other writing tips – and they can be equally good at getting the creative juices flowing again!

Some writers find they need to have a set schedule: writing for a certain period of time, every day, rain or shine, no exceptions. This tends to work because your brain gets used to being “on” at that time, and just defaults to “writing mode” naturally.

Other people have books that they turn to when they have writer’s block: a beautiful piece of poetry or prose that never fails to inspire.

Still others need to change their physical location to get out of a writing slump; a walk in the park followed by a nice cup of tea can do wonders.

Whatever system works for you and gets you writing (even if what you produce isn’t great!) is perfectly fine. It would be lovely if everyone could share what they like to do when they have writer’s block – please leave any tips or suggestions in the comments!

Just Have Fun

Whenever I’m feeling particularly dry and witless, I go online and try to find an opinion piece that I really, really disagree with.

I get all angry and frustrated and start imaging the best way to totally shut down that author with their terrible ideas, and all of a sudden I’m in Word, typing furiously.
After a few minutes (which sometimes turn into an hour or more without my even noticing it!), I’m usually ready to get back into what I need to be doing.

Hey Scavenger Hunters:

One of your challenges is to respond to a controversial post in your industry, well now I’d like you to take it one step further and exercise your writing muscles. In addition to writing a strong rebuttal post, I’d like you two write two or three paragraphs defending the position you just argued against. Post the paragraphs to your Tumblr and send the link to us for 15 bonus points!

Writing practices are another way to get the creative juices flowing, and are less likely to raise your blood pressure. I really love a good writing practice, ever since my high school literary arts class, when we started with one every single day. It was a terrific warm up and prepared us for the real work of the day.

Here are a couple of my favorite prompts; feel free to add more in the comments!

  • Write about today, from the perspective of a piece of fruit in your kitchen.
  • Tinfoil hats – crazy or chic? Discuss.
  • What year from the past do you wish you could visit and why?
  • Describe a dream that you had recently without using the letter M.
  • If you woke up tomorrow and there was no internet (and there never had been!) what would your day look like?

Want a whole lot more? Check out A Writing Prompt a Day on Tumblr!

These are all kind of silly, but what they do is take you out of the frustrating “it’s not working” place, and into a zone where you’re coming up with ideas, and not focused on the negative. Like the other creative writing tips here – they’re worth a try! If you’re not getting anything done – you’ve got nothing to lose!

Notes on the Scavenger Hunt

We’ve got Tea Silvestre from the ever popular Prosperity’s Kitchen and Nicole Fende, The Numbers Whisperer, as well as Lindsey Rainwater all providing amazing prizes and challenges for the Scavenger Hunt Contestants. We couldn’t be having any of this fun without them – so thank you all!

Now, Scavenger Hunters, I’ve got another bonus opportunity for you. Nicole Fende, the Numbers Whisperer wants to introduce you to the Number Muncher: the mean little guy who makes math and finance and all things associated with it complicated and unpleasant.NumberCruncherRight300dpi

There is a page on The Numbers Whisperer where you’ll find the Number Muncher AND have the opportunity to upload your own personal finance /business villain.  Design your own and upload it with your business information to take some of the fear away. Send a screenshot of your upload to us for 10 points.

Not enough points for you? Okay…

5+ for sharing your villain on The Numbers Whisperer Facebook Group, along with a reason why you created it.

5+ for tweeting  “Face your fear of numbers and #rockyourprofits with @NicoleAFende. Meet the mascots & villains”

5+ for Pinning your villain and linking to The Numbers Whisper on Pinterest.

Don’t forget to email in your screenshots!

About Megan Dougherty

Megan Dougherty is an alumnus of Mirasee and is passionate about online education, small business and making a difference in the world. You can find out what she's up to and how side-hustles will take over the world at Follow her on Twitter at @MeganTwoCents.

26 thoughts on “Tips for Creative Writing – Even When You’re Not Feeling Inspired

  1. Responding to a controversial post is 100% one of my favorite techniques. I love writing about sales and marketing alignment – an area where there is a LOT of debate and this made me even more passionate about how those two teams can work together.

    Thanks for sharing these resources. I’m working on a new blog project and have been slightly blocked on how to handle it.

    • I’m glad to hear it Jeff!

      There really is a huge amount of debate in those circles – and people are really passionate about what they think. Good luck!

  2. Pingback: Reading, Writing and Researching Your Way Around Writers Block and Other Creative Hang-Ups from Firepole Marketing Blog | Niche Site Workshop
  3. Hi Jeff, I’m intrigued that you find the controversial post so effective. Perhaps it’s the topic versus a person? I often get riled up by people who post things that are only half the story ($100K launch… ahem and how much did you spend to bring in $100K? Revenue is only half the story.). As a finance person I fear discussing an issue that’s controversial looks like I’m attacking a specific person. Not interested in a flame war or personal attacks.

    Megan how do you handle it? And to take it a step further, how do you respond (if at all) to people who make you the target instead of the topic?

    For me I rely on my mascots and villains (yes The Number Muncher is mine!) to create the “juice” on my blog. So far it seems quite effective. I love the chance to support the scavenger hunt, and the fact that the whole Firepole Marketing team supports the concept that real success takes work.

    • Great point about Finance, Nicole!

      No one ever wants a flame war – and I think we’re pretty lucky here at Firepole Marketing to have a community that is more inclined to be supportive and interested in learning and discussion than blindly proving points. I’m really still learning the nuances of how to respond to issues like that – remembering not to take it personally, and to respond professionally is a skill that takes practice!

      I really like your strategy of having mascots and villains! I’ve got a little fear on for the number Muncher myself…

  4. Great post!

    I have been fortunate to never be at a loss for a blog post. In fact, I have more ideas than I can write about each week!

    I keep a running document of all my ideas, so, if there’s not something pressing on the top of my head to write about, I can refer to the document and whip something up. :]

  5. Hi Shannon,

    I’ve been able to get it to work in Chrome, but you’ll need to be sure you’re on the most recent version of Chrome. I’ll keep plugging away at the other issues.

    For now please post on Facebook and I’ll help you get it loaded on my site so you can get the credit!


    PS This is why I’m The Numbers Whisperer not the Technology Whisperer

  6. Nice article. I normally get over writer’s block by doing hobbies like watching a movie, playing a video game, or going on a hike. You can find so much inspiration just by observing the people and environment all around you.

    And getting all angry to the point where you want to shut down the author really made me laugh.

  7. It appears that this is a known error with the gallery upload plug-in that happens if you are not on the most recent version of Chrome, Firefox or Explorer. I did have someone at another location test all three which now appear to function.

    If after updating to the most recent version you still have a problem please post to FB and let me know. Thanks and good luck on the Scavenger Hunt!


  8. Megan, what a challenge- Disagree then write a supportive argument.
    That is a real challenge. We often disagree emotionally but agreeing takes logic and thought. It also brings in the rule of – say 3 nice things before you criticize.
    I have to admit that the scavenger hunt has taken a back burner to the work I am doing personally especially compared to many others in the hunt. I need to look back on some of what I have commented on recently and see how I could pick up those bonus points.

    • Hi Roberta – I’m glad you like it! It’s something I really try to do – especially when my gut reaction is “that’s awful!” You learn so much more by trying on someone else’s shoes…

      Good luck with the hunt – you do what you can, when you can, and there’s still plenty of time!

  9. Okay Megan…your killing me lol. So here is where I get valunerable…I often have really good ideas about what to write but they get stuck in my head and at times dont sound as good on paper. I often have to go back to something I have written a day or two or maybe even a weak and do some revisions before I can get it to sound the way that I want it to sound. Although I have to say that the (20 techniques) article is pretty darn good!
    WLF was great for me because it gave me much needed structure. Nicole love the numbers muncher lol.

    • Having a structure to fall back on is SO HELPFUL – I go back to WLF all the time as well. If in doubt – trust the process.

      I bet you’ll find that the more you do it – the more you “write through” the blocks, the easier, and more fluent it will become!

  10. This post came just at the right time for me! I’m trying to start a new niche site and I’ve been totally stuck when it comes to writing the articles and the ideas here are great! Thanks so much!

  11. I find that being in nature inspires me to write. I’ve taken my laptop out to park by the water, written in my journal in the woods, sat in my backyard and listened to the bird songs as I go through my next blog post in my head. If I push too hard at creating, sometimes that backfires. I find that I need to give myself time and space…and then the writing can flow.

  12. I don’t often run out of ideas for things to write about. I do run out of enthusiasm to do the writing. In other words, I have an ideas list of between 10 and 1000 ideas, but sometimes I just don’t want to write about any of them. Those are the days I usually write about something else – like the tooth fairy 🙂 and let the topic-appropriate content come some other time.

  13. I don’t have too many problems coming up with ideas to write about, I just can’t seem to find the time and the focus. I need my own separate work space and work hours and the kids need to leave me alone. Thanks for sharing about the numbers monster, I’m working on one right now.

  14. There are so many negative articles on my connected concentrations that it wasn’t tricky to find one. It enlightening to think of WHY I felt that way. I’ve been accused of being argumentive (me??) so defending my own conclusion (be it warped or not) was right up my alley! It was an excercise in practicality as well so I believe that I will make a practice of analyzing the logic behind my logic (hey, it might not be sound if I look close enough!). bowing) Thanks!

  15. This was timely for me as I am trying to figure out the best writing system for me. I do find I work best before 11am and then again between 2 and 5pm, with my afternoon stint being less passionate. Therefore, I decided that I would do my writing in the mornings and all of the other stuff (social media, responding to emails, etc..) between 2 and 5. I like the idea of the prompts. It is such a sinking feeling to have to get an article out and not know what to write about. Like the post mentioned, changing environment is a big one for me. Going out for a run, always refreshes my writing spirit. 🙂

  16. I find that the best way to break my writers block is go to the gym. I walk there and it takes 30mins, so it one hour of walking wit one hour workout.

    That really helps my mind ease up and let the ideas start flowing. Actually, some of my best ideas are when I am walking to the gym.

    I really like the having fun points. Too many times have I thought I need to do this, but I have other ideas that aren’t related.

    I suppose I could write the random stuff, but it wouldn’t be as focused.

    Thanks for the information.

  17. Pingback: Tips For Leaner Copy & Better Writing | Meta Muse
  18. Great post, Megan! I operate under a lot of deadlines and the thought of writing sometimes when I have absolutely no inspiration whatsoever is one of the most daunting tasks to undertake. One thing I have notice that helps me get over the writer’s block is to read a few columns of my favorite columnists or an essay or two. Works almost every time!

    Thanks again!

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