This guest post is by Josh Sarz of Sagoyism.com.
I’m in love with blogging.
If you’re like me, you marvel that you have your own website. It may not be huge for a lot of people who’ve been in the blogging biz for years, but it’s huge for me.
My first few months of blogging flew by so fast, it seemed like only yesterday when I started writing online.
My first blog was about everything under the sun. Tech, Social Media, Health, Entertainment and turtles were just a few of the topics my first blog covered. I was prolific. Writing two or three blog posts per day was normal for me. I had so much to talk about.
Then came the scourge that a lot of people call writer’s block. I started fearing the blank page. I couldn’t think of anything else to write about. Social Media? I’ve written about it a lot. Entertainment? It was getting really boring really fast. I ran out of ideas.
Sound familiar? I’m pretty sure that I’m not the only one who has experienced this before. Coming up to your blog, facing a blank page and wondering for hours on what to write about. I’m also sure that a lot of people will be experiencing this in the future.
That’s why I’ll be telling you about the secret I learned to getting an unending stream of knowledge and ideas. With this in your creative arsenal, you won’t even have to worry about what to write today, tomorrow and the day after that.
The secret is incubation
This isn’t my idea, by the way. I read about it in a book by legendary copywriter Joseph Sugarman. If you don’t know him, then you should. I’ve learned a massive amount of knowledge from his book. I know you will as well.
Joe talked about how he gets creative ideas for his copy. Want to know one of his secrets? He got off his butt and did something else.
“What’s this ‘incubation’ that you speak of?”, you might ask.
It’s the process of getting your mind out of your work, and giving it time to rest. To make it even more simple, it means you get out of you chair and do something else. Don’t even think about what to write for your blog.
“How am I supposed to know what to write if I don’t think about it?”
I know it sounds counter-intuitive, but it works. It really does. The logic behind it is that your mind is always at work. No matter what you do, whether you’re brewing your favorite coffee, or watching Disney’s Up, or even when you’re out partying, you’re brain is constantly absorbing everything that you see, hear, feel, taste and smell.
So don’t worry if you’re not burying your face in your computer. You’re still working. Trust me.
I’ll tell you the reason as to how this will work for you later. But first, let’s talk about the two kinds of knowledge.
- General knowledge: This is simply the basic kind of knowledge that you get from experiencing everything in your life. When you’re watching the Discovery Channel, or seeing how your mom cooked dinner back when you were a kid, or the time when you were learning how to draw your favorite superhero … all this would account to growing your general knowledge.
- Specific knowledge: This type of knowledge is what is also called ‘niche’ knowledge. This is the knowledge that you get from studying how to write great copy, or how to perform open-heart surgery, or the specific temperature that cooks the perfect fried chicken.
The difference between the two is: general knowledge comes as you experience the world and what it has to offer, while specific knowledge, on the other hand, is something you learn when you have to study or do a certain amount of research.
Have you guessed what kind of knowledge the incubation process can give you?
The power of general knowledge
This is the backbone of your creativity. While specific knowledge will give you the info you need to be an expert on a topic, general knowledge gives you the ability to be flexible with just about anything.
This is also the driving force behind an unending stream of knowledge and ideas. Growing your experience with a variety of things outside your blog will add up to your creative arsenal.
Never again will you have to worry about what to write. Never again will you worry about how you want to portray your next big idea. Never again will you have to fear the blank page.
Now I’ll tell you how you can use your general knowledge to your advantage.
Putting it all together
We know how important taking time off from your blog is. We also talked about general knowledge, and what it can do for your creativity.
Now let’s put it all together and get those creative juices overflowing. This is another tactic that I’ve learned from Joseph Sugarman’s book. It’s not his idea this time, but it’s brilliant nonetheless.
We’re now going to apply what we’ve learned through our everyday experiences to think of unique ways to write your next post. If you think that you don’t have enough general knowledge to work with, think again.
You know more than you think you do. A lot more. So don’t worry.
The technique that I’m talking about is called Lateral Thinking. It’s a process of solving problems using indirect and creative means, usually with ideas that seem totally unrelated to the main topic.
Joe talked about how Edward de Bono’s device, the “Think Tank”, can help you with your creativity. You pick three random words out of a huge pile, and relate them to your topic.
Now let’s apply this to your blog post. This is where it gets interesting.
You have to write you next post while incorporating those three random words. What a challenge! And a fun one at that. This will force your brain to search your vault of general knowledge. You don’t have to be an expert at these random words, you just need to know how to tie them all in to your topic.
Why is it fun? What does it do to help with my blogging?
- Your blog post won’t sound dry, so your readers will have a better experience reading your posts.
- It’s going to attract another type of reader aside from the usual ones, growing your audience in the process.
- The exercise trains your brain to be more creative, so you’ll get better and better every day, and won’t have to even worry about what to write about.
- The entire post will generally sound better with a story. People love reading a story. It captures their attention, and if done right, would compel your readers to read your entire post. Not bad.
But wait, isn’t using three unrelated words a bit too had?
I admit, it’s a little shocking to do at first, but it gets easier in time. Don’t worry, because you don’t have to go “by the book” and use three words. You can choose to go use the Easy mode, and just pick out one unrelated word. As you get used to applying this technique when you’re brainstorming, you can move on to Normal mode (two or three words) and then finally to Hard mode.
I used the same technique to brainstorm a topic to write this guest post on Problogger. I only picked two random words (I chickened out of using three), which were “love” and “sleep.”
You don’t need to have your own Think Tank device to do this. Being the lazy guy that I am, I just searched on Google and found a site where I could generate up to eight random words.
Get those ideas flowing like crazy
It’s going to be so easy, I promise. And fun, too. You now know that in order to get an unlimited amount of ideas, all you have to do is stop working and do something else. Go watch some TV, read a book, train your dog how to sniff out firecrackers, go swimming, hang out with your family—do just about anything.
You’ve also learned how to apply lateral thinking when brainstorming ideas for your next blog post. I’ve given you a link to a page where you can get up to eight random words. You now know how to get creative and search the vault in your brain for ideas.
The best thing about this is: it’s totally free, and you can start doing it right this instant. So get out there and do something else. Forget about your blog for a while. When you come back, so fresh and revived, you’ll be ready to take on that blank page.
This is what I’ve learned to do, and it has helped me tons. I hope it will help you tremendously, as well. But this is just one idea, and there are lots more out there. What do you do to battle the blank page? Has it worked for you? What else can you add to this topic?
Josh Sarz is a freelance copywriter and the founder of Sagoyism.com where he talks about Copywriting and Content Marketing for the Digital Entrepreneur. Click through to grab the ‘Lowdown on Content Marketing‘ free report right now.