5 Ways to Spark Inspiration For That Blog PostNov 07, 2022
Anthony Trollope was an astonishingly prolific Victorian novelist, one of the most successful of the era. He wrote 47 novels, as well as plays and short stories, whilst in a full-time job.
His strategy was to write with his watch in front of him and to commit to writing 250 words every quarter of an hour.
Neil Gaiman said that sometimes a project just needed “a little time to breathe”, and Maya Angelou famously advised, “not to overthink it”. She said to write nonsense if you were stuck for inspiration but “just keep writing”.
The empty page can be a killer and anyone who writes––for business, for pleasure, for others or themselves––knows the feeling.
A set of proven strategies to turn to, to spark inspiration can be a godsend. I’d like to share some of the tactics I have found most helpful in over 30 years of writing.
Use a quote
This one is my personal favourite since at the core of every piece of writing is a story, and nothing arouses curiosity about the story behind it, quite like a pithy quote.
It can be with or without an accompanying picture––personally, I find choosing an image to go with the quote half the fun––but quote websites are legion. Type ‘inspirational quotes’ into your search engine and be amazed!
From the well-known to the much more obscure, whether for business success, self-care, parenting, baking, or writing, you will find something to kick-start your thought processes.
Build on someone else’s idea
No, really! Much like with that quote, someone else’s idea might completely resonate with you, and as long as you can build on it and develop it, it’s more like a conversation.
Obviously, we’re not recommending plagiarising someone else’s content. That’s an absolute taboo. But many writers build so-called swipe files of content that interests or inspires them, and the swipe file is a valuable tool, organised into themes or subject areas, for those times when you’re struggling for subject matter.
But be conscientious with it. You probably know very well when you’re just saying the same thing with slightly different wording instead of writing something original.
Ask the audience
Hold an audience poll or a quiz on your Facebook page, LinkedIn or other social media platforms you use to connect with your audience. Or via email or using a survey tool. Ask them what they want to hear about. Do they have any burning questions they need answering?
It’s also a good idea to keep a running record of any questions your contacts and audience may have, especially if you have a large and active following or community.
Write a How-To
This is a perennially popular blog type. Derek Sivers, entrepreneur, life coach and writer of How to Live (there ya go!), asks, “Are you holding back something that seems too obvious to share?”
We all have experience with something that others may profit from. It may not seem like a big deal to us, but someone out there may be waiting for just these insights, exactly this description, precisely that step-by-step tutorial.
Do an interview
This is great for anyone with a far-flung network and great contacts. Say you’ve recently had an interesting chat with a colleague, associate, or someone you admire in your sector. A particular insight strikes you, or you have some follow-up questions.
You could just write about it, but it can be a truly riveting read if you interview your conversation partner and then simply transcribe that interview. Or even just the best bits of it.
Perhaps you could include audio snippets to spice it up a little. And the great thing is, just as you present this person and their nuggets of wisdom to your audience––thereby increasing their reach––they could possibly do the same for you so that you gain access to their audience. Win-win!
And if all else fails––hey, what else is the Internet for? There are pages and pages out there of ‘inspirational’, ‘creative’ or ‘aspirational’ blog post ideas that are easily adaptable to your niche or industry, from sharing your business beginnings to divulging which marketing tips didn’t work for you….
….from your favourite case study to writing about your difficulties blog writing! The metablog.
And don’t forget––your blogs can be broken up into chunks for short social media posts (linking to your blog page, of course), or with careful curation, they can become the foundation for a book or an e-book.
But more on that another time…
Jackie is the founder-owner of BrickHouse, a small content creation company that serves mainly SMEs, and a media professional of many years’ standing.
She has over 25 years as a freelance writer, broadcaster and media trainer under her belt, and is a scrupulously precise editor, utterly pedantic and very word-choosy. As a trainer, she worked in parts of Africa and Central Asia with young journalists and reporters––something she still sees as thoroughly rewarding and the most fun to be had while working.
Her content these days includes marketing copy, but she describes herself as a storytellerrather than a copywriter. A journalist to the bone, she does nothing without research, and the research object is her client’s story.
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