Anyone can write about something they love. And if they have some skill, they can turn it into an exciting piece. But what if your task is to write not just about what you’re interested in? And what if you have to do that daily?
Freelance writers, bloggers, and content marketers have to deal with this problem as part of their jobs. You can set your telephone answering service to divert all calls and get rid of all the distractions in your room. But when you’re staring at a blank paper or screen, sometimes the ideas just don’t come. You’d give anything for a voice to enter your head telling you what to write about.
If you’re pressed for time, maybe you’ve considered hiring someone else to do your job. And you could always enroll in a class or workshop to get better as a writer. But you don’t need to pay for a solution to this problem. Here are some absolutely free practices you can apply each day to help you come up with fresh content ideas all the time.
If you can’t think of anything to write, do yourself a favor: get up and do something else. Literally take a walk to think. Nietzsche believed that the only time you get great ideas is when you’re going about on your feet.
There’s a powerful mechanism at work when you walk. Your feet are exploring the world for you, taking one cognitive burden off your mind. And walking also helps you to escape from the mundane.
Most people walk to get somewhere. They are too focused on the destination and other relevant considerations. If you let yourself wander about aimlessly, you can notice more things. Sometimes, they will inspire you or fire up some connections, which will give you something to write about.
Read some more
Reading is the fuel for any good writer. We all start out seeking to emulate our literary or journalistic heroes. As we take our craft ever more seriously, we read books on writing in a specific style or finding your voice.
Reading is also the easiest way to come up with fresh ideas for content. Yet in the information age, most of us have a ‘set and forget’ mentality regarding the news we receive. We subscribe to feeds and follow certain people or blogs; each day, their posts and shares show up automatically on our devices.
If you don’t shake things up and go beyond, you’re bound to have the same ideas as everybody else who follows those sources. It’s a form of groupthink, and you’re better than that.
Go to the library or bookstore and grab a physical book. Comb newspapers, especially local ones, for articles that will interest a niche audience.
Talk to people
Many writers tend to be introverted, but you don’t have to do it all by yourself. Sometimes, trying too hard to solve problems is counter-productive. What if the reason you can’t come up with a new idea is your lack of variety in terms of perspective?
Get others involved in your work. It can be a brainstorming session with fellow writers or a casual chat with friends and family. You can ask a buddy to help you out as a sounding board or use your subject matter as a conversation starter at parties. Toss a topic out there, and see how people respond. What do they have to say about it?
People come from different backgrounds. They might not have your writing skills, they might be less well-read, but they will have an original take on any given subject. And that can be a godsend if you’re tired of hearing your repetitive thoughts on a topic.
It’s often said that great ideas come in the shower. Others swear by train rides or even dreams. The point is, your best ideas for content writing will probably come up when you’re doing anything besides sitting down at your desk and ready to write.
You have to be ready to seize that inspiration whenever it strikes. In decades past, that would mean carrying a stenographer’s notebook or a voice recorder; today, smartphones and tablets have apps to replicate those functions, and then some.
More vital than having a note-taking device is making it a habit to take down notes. You might not be able to write on the spot when you’re driving or in the bathroom, but keep them in your head until you can get them recorded.
Make these practices a part of your daily routine. It won’t cost you anything, and you’ll be able to find ideas by drawing upon different sources you’ll encounter each day.