When You Run Out of Topics to Write About…
As jobs go, the ones that involve article writing or blogging can be downright fun. The act of composing a 500-, 1,000, or 1,500-word piece can be an engaging and stimulating experience. One that’s challenging in the best possible ways.
Anyone who’s so lucky no doubt knows what I’m talking about. However, they also no doubt know this next part as well…
How it can also be a royal pain in the neck, particularly when your job involves writing or blogging alone.
It’s not that the act itself gets tedious. There’s always something new to explore once you have a topic to work with.
It’s finding a topic to work with that can be tedious, obnoxious or downright headache-inducing.
When your job involves not only writing an article or blog post a day but also coming up with the subject matter and direction, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed by the idea that you’ve run out of things to say. You’ve already covered A through Z (minus Q and X, which are out of your element anyway).
In which case, what’s left?
If you’ve run out of ideas to write about, my first suggestion isn't to address the aforementioned Q and X. It's to revisit old topics.
As we discussed two weeks ago in “How to Keep Your Writers Happy,” it can be okay – maybe even considerate – to address old topics from time to time. That way, you’re giving any new readers you’ve gained something to go off of.
But if that’s not an option or you’re still struggling in this regard, there’s still hope. You can also draw inspiration from others.
That’s not code for plagiarizing, by the way. It’s an encouragement to expand your horizons by browsing other writers’ blog posts and articles. You might be amazed at what inspires you when you do.
My article last week came about based on this advice. I wouldn’t have thought to write about the risks of bolding too much text if I hadn’t checked out someone else’s promotional material.
In fact, that piece is such an editorial minefield, I’ll be getting at least three posts total out of it. If not four.
(That sounds, harsh, I know. But I’m not naming the writer for a reason. Besides, facts are facts.)
It’s not just online content you can draw inspiration from though. When you run out of ideas for your blog or article list – and trust me, it’s bound to happen at least every once in a while – you can also turn to books, whether fiction or nonfiction, depending on your area of specialty.
Take Susan Cain’s book Quiet: the Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking. I’ve only read the introduction, and I’m already riveted!
You’ll get to see why a few weeks down the road when I write about it. Even extroverts will find it fascinating, not to mention worthwhile.
I might even end up using it in this week’s creative writing-focused series on literary tone.
One last way to look at it is this: As brilliant as you might be, you’re still limited to your perspective. You always will be.
But you can expand your perspective by taking in other’s thoughts, feelings, and expressions about any number of things. As you do, you’re naturally going to find more to write about…
Saving you those headaches we mentioned before so that you can go right back to enjoying your job.