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The Right-brain Thinker’s Guide to Beating Blogger’s Block

This guest post is by Neil Patel of KISSmetrics.

In his 2009 book A Whole New Mind, Daniel Pink explained that the new world of business is a great place to be a right-brain thinker. Right-brain thinkers are the creators and the empathizers. If you’re a blogger, you are probably a right-brained thinker … and you probably deal with blogger’s block on occasion.

What is blogger’s block? It’s what happens to all bloggers as they try to crank out new, original posts day after day: they eventually run out of ideas. Ever struggle with that?

However, have you ever thought about using your very own creative quirks to generate blog post ideas? Following is a list of qualities that right-brain thinkers have and tips on how you can use these qualities to break those moments of blogger’s block and kick out some great blog posts.

Right-brain thinkers are impulsive

Some of the really great bloggers are those who are quick and impulsive when it comes to blogging. Think of Robert Scoble’s comment that if you aren’t at least apologizing once a month, then you are probably not doing anything interesting. He did it in a big way with Twitter. It’s good to catch hell on your blog every once in a while.

To overcome blogger’s block, just throw caution to the wind and see what happens. I know I probably ruffled some feathers when I wrote Why You Should Get Drunk – The ROI of Partying or You don’t have to be smart to be an entrepreneur.

But I stand by what I wrote and I think I provided a lot of people with some good ideas. All the comments I got and tweets suggest I did something right.

Right-brain thinkers question authority and rules

Another great idea for blog posts involves just challenging current rules or asking why certain rules exist.

For example, SEOs are always wondering and challenging why Google is doing certain things. Aaron Wall wrote a great post called Google Aggressively Enters Make Money Online Niche where he made a list of all the listings in the SERPs for a certain term and pointed out how Google products dominated the results. He’s challenging authority, and so should you.

Right-brain thinkers are unlikely to read instruction manual before trying

Ever just get tired of the same old thing? Ever feel like you don’t want to do things the traditional way? If so, that’s great!

Sometimes breaking blogger’s block involves just ignoring the best practices and creating something that breaks the mold. That’s exactly what Smashing Magazine did with The Death of the Boring Blog Post.

Listen, I give you permission to break all the rules. Just forget about the rules and just write! Keep in mind not all of your ideas may work. Be patient and don’t give up, because failure is a great way to improve your blogging skills.

Right-brain thinkers process multiple ideas simultaneously

Good right-brain thinkers can hold more than one idea in their head, even if the ideas are totally different and contradict one another. So, one of the best ways to get creative and break blogger’s block is to bring together two very different ideas.

Austin Kleon takes the idea of creativity and criminality to come up with a very original blog post called Steal Like an Artist. He combines images, drawings, and photos with commentary that leads you down his list of ten things he wishes he’d known about creativity when he started out.

Right-brain thinkers write things down or illustrate

Sometimes it just helps to get your ideas down on the screen. That’s usually what I do once I’ve gathered enough information about the topic I want to write about. And don’t forget: just write as quickly and carelessly as you can! Tell that editor in your head to “shut up,” and just write.

Another way to break writer’s block is to draw. Hugh MacLeod is the superstar in this area, but there are other great drawer/bloggers out there. Just take Organizational Chart of Major Corporations at Bonker’s World or Fake Grimlock’s Minimum Viable Personality drawing. These are two great examples of distilling an idea to its essence.

Right-brain thinkers are visual, focusing on images and patterns

When you’re looking for blog topics to write about, it helps to look for patterns in information. Perhaps you have an idea for a topic and you start to look at articles. Keep reading until some kind of pattern emerges. You might key into something that a handful of people keep saying. That could be your topic you explore.

Or you might spend some time looking at dozens of photos on Instagram, Flickr or deviantART. Any one of those places could trigger an idea for a post.

Right-brain thinkers intuitive, led by feelings

When blogging, do you tend to hide your feelings? In other words, do you try to remain objective and distant? If so, stop it! Bring out your feelings when you write. If something makes you angry, write about it. If something makes you laugh hysterically, write about it.  Besides, ranting is How to Get People to Remember Your Posts.

Right-brain thinkers see the whole first, then the details

If you tend to see how a particular blog post is going to look, like you know the headline and you probably how you are going to open it and close it, but you’re not sure what is going to go in the middle, that’s fine.

If you see the whole post first, it might help you to write an outline. A lot of the time I’ll have the headline and then I’ll work on all the subheadings. Then I’ll go through and start filling out the different sections.

What are the advantages of an outline? Here are three:

  • You won’t get lost: With an outline, you’ll have a road map for your blog post to help you stay on track.
  • You evaluate your idea early: With an outline, you can also see if you may have trouble putting your post together. An outline is like an early, simple version of your post.
  • You write with a sense of flow: Outlines help me get into my writing so I pick up momentum.

Sometimes I’ll run into a dead end as I’m writing a post. Instead of getting frustrated and banging my head, I’ll just start working on a different, easier section of the post.

Right-brain thinkers use free association

Using free association to come up with blog posts can be fun. All you do is just sit down and start thinking about something. Follow where each idea leads. Don’t stop writing until you are out of ideas or just tired.

Also, make sure you save all your ideas. Don’t throw anyway away because you’ll have a lot of ideas for future blogs posts in that one rambling, rough-draft session. Plus, look for the interesting insights or patterns you see in your writing. As Scott Myers says in Dumb Little Writing Tricks That Work:

“What happens? In my experience, oftentimes I’ll hit on a nugget. Perhaps something related to the scene, perhaps not, maybe something later in the story, or an idea for something else entirely. Generally when that happens, I end my free association session. Other times, nothing seems to emerge, so I just stop.”

By the way, free association is a great way to break writer’s block.

Right-brain thinkers have no sense of time

When I say “no sense of time” I don’t mean you don’t know what time it is. What I mean is you enjoy what you do so much that you lose track of time. But you probably have to fight off the tendency to be distracted by phones, Facebook, and co-workers. Distractions can cause writer’s block.

Some bloggers I know will work on a 33-minute schedule. They’ll write focused for 33 minutes, get up, drink some coffee, check all their social media sites for about five minutes and then get back to work. It kills writer’s block and tends to be a very productive way to write.

Creative breaks for blogger’s block

Blogger’s block affects us all, whether we tend to be right- or left-brain thinkers. Hopefully the qualities of creative thinkers I described above will give you that spark you need to inspire you next time you are struggling to come up with a new blog post idea.

What things do you do to inspire you to write and break blogger’s block?

Neil Patel is the co-founder of KISSmetrics and blogs at Quick Sprout.

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Comments

  1. Interesting post. Blogger’s block is something that I battle with too on a somewhat regular basis these days, even though I operate in the tech niche which is supposed to be the niche that probably has the biggest repository and a continuous flow of post ideas. Some of the ideas you suggested will surely help me tacle blogger’s block in a different way from now on. Thanks.

  2. This is definitely a right-brain guest post Neil, great angle and excellent information.

  3. Josh Sarz says:

    I love this post a lot. Plenty of stuff to try and emulate. Thing is, if you look at all of them in general, it’s like describing a crazy person.

    But that’s not really a good thing. Sane is being normal. Sane is boring. I forgot which movie quoted something similar to that.

  4. i agree with this opinion.
    actually, right brain can improve our creativity in blogging. such as has unique and new idea for writing article.

  5. Techpiper says:

    This article found an interesting link between bloggers and their brain dominance. Some other interesting facts are:Most of us are right handed, means left brain is dominant.Even in left handed individuals 80% have left brain dominance. The left part of brain is concerned with analytical skills while right brain deals with spatial orientation.So most of the artists have right brain dominance. So a london taxi driver will have a highly developed right hemisphere.

  6. Chris says:

    Have you seen the short RSA animation called “Divided Brain”? It’s a little fast-paced and long (almost 12 minutes), but perfectly describes the differences between left and right hemispheres.
    Youtube link to this video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dFs9WO2B8uI
    Their other animations are very nice too, although on different subjects.

  7. Dave Delaney says:

    Fantastic post Neil! Lots of food for thought here. Cheers.

  8. I tried to dig deep for some posts and wrote some very good posts, but yes, got in trouble for it. Sometimes having an opinion on a subject means that others will have the opposite opinion. Truly passionate about your opinion? Others will be truly passionate about theirs. No way to win if you lay it all out there. But it’s always cool to get feedback.

  9. Bougie Girl says:

    I love this article. I use both sides of my brain equally which is great in my corporate gig but, causes me to short circuit somewhat as a blogger.

  10. Blogger’s block is really a challenging issue for most bloggers. I strongly agree with the views and more over I was skeptical to add images or illustrations. Thanks to your awesome insight for consistency in blogging I am clear with your brief post. Am going to spread the word to the world!

  11. Tiare says:

    Interesting article, i didn´t know about left versus right brain tendencies. I`m quite sure i`m a right brainer. To me the blogger’s block isn`t (yet) a problem but occasionally it happens after 3 years of blogging. But since i write a rum and tiki cocktail blog i have solved it by making a series where i mix up every single cocktail from a specific book and make a twist of them as well and so when i`m out of ideas i just move on with the next drink from that book.And i have an audience following those posts as well and mixing along so all is good.

    New ideas of what to write about usually just comes to me, often when i don`t expect it and when that happens, even if it´s when i`m about to fall sleep i always immediately write them down before doing anything else.

  12. Mike says:

    This is good to read! Though I am a balanced brain individual, I still find that this works well!

  13. Great post! I think even left brain thinking suffer from the “writer’s block” once in a while. These are great tips and awesome read. Thanks.

  14. Drewry says:

    right-thinking produces right results in the search engines :-)

  15. Daniel says:

    Writers block or Bloggers block is very common.

    It can be a major problem for some individuals in certain writing fields. The only real way to overcome writers block whether you are a novelist, Screenwriter, Blogger or involved in any other form of writing that requires a certain amount of creativity, is to get in there and do the writing. The longer you put it off, the longer you will find reasons NOT to write.

    Like that well worn motivational expression, ” Just do it”!

  16. Sara Martin says:

    Great post. I loved Dan Pink’s book (everything he writes…and his TED talks). It was such an uplifting read for creative types. And you’ve done a good job here of translating some of his information into usable blogging tips. My favorite was “be impulsive.” I struggle with this one because I’m a new blogger and I still get nervous before I publish anything. I’m hoping this will fade with time!

    Also, Plinky.com is a good site for blog inspiration. It’s got a new open-ended question daily to get your wheels turning.

    Thanks for the article!