This post on Creative Blogging was written by Mark Seall from Talk Climate Change.
Creative lapses are one of the biggest blog killers out there. Every blogger spends time staring at a blank screen searching for inspiration at some point, and few niches provide a steady stream of juicy news on which a blogger can instantly provide outpourings of captivating opinion.
Over time I’ve managed to develop a routine and a set of habits which seem to reliably spark my limited creative abilities and help me avoid those desperate moments of inspirational emptiness as I imagine my page hits plummeting as my blog dries up.
My suggestions for creative blogging bliss, in no particular order are:
1. Move around – try to continually blog in different places as changes in environmental stimuli will stop your brain from going into autopilot and keep it fresh and receptive to new ideas. I tend to continually rotate from the kitchen to my home office to my sofa to the local coffee shop as I read news, write blog posts, or jot down notes. In my case reading other blogs in the kitchen seems to give a 50% better ideas hit rate.
2. Make a mess – Fleming wouldn’t have discovered the bacteria that created penicillin had his laboratory been spotlessly clean. Likewise, a messy work environment creates more chance for coincidence, and more coincidences mean more opportunities to discover the odd thoughts which eventually mature into great posts.
3. Integrate blogging with the rest of your life – Get into the habit of randomly thinking about your blog when performing completely unrelated tasks. Your brain will make different associative connections which often spawn new ideas. Whilst emptying the dishwasher last week my mind flicked from climate change to domestic relationships to marriage and along the way it brought up some interesting connections which inspired a surprisingly good post on climate change and marriage.
4. Talk about your blog – It’s surprising the number of random thoughts you can come up with during conversation. Talking uses different parts of your brain and stimulates the creative pathways in different ways. At the same time your ideas will develop as the bounce around the conversation. I frequently discuss topics on my blog with friends and colleagues and often find myself pausing to write down ideas which emerge as the subject for future blog posts.
5. Take a complete break – You can’t force creativity. Avoid thinking about your blog for at least 30 minutes to allow your blog brain to reboot. This will usually clear out any mental blocks that develop and allow you to think about that great blog post with renewed clarity.
6. Stop writing and start reading – It’s been said time and time again, but spending time outside of your blog is essential to keep your content lively and relevant. But mostly it also helps you to capture the seeds of opinion which float around the internet forming or reinforcing the basis for your own specific take on a given issue. I find that the quality of my posts is roughly equal to the square of the time that I spend reading. My recent post on climate change extremism was developed as I collected fragments of observations whilst surfing the net which came together as I related them during a lunch time chat.
These pointers may not work for everyone, but the basic principle holds true – give your brain some freedom and exercise and it’s more likely to reward you with brilliant new thoughts. There is no complete recipe for creativity, but actively managing your blogging habits and environment can give you the very best chance of developing great ideas and great content.
Note from Darren: for more thinking on creativity and how to be more creative as a blogger check out some of these previous posts on the topic: