Disclaimer: I wished this to be a comprehensive, helpful, enlightening blog post to guide other bloggers to ways to get out of a writing rut/vault over writer’s block/get productive writing-wise. Instead this is a rant cum musing and it doesn’t help that the post has no headings or sub headings to help you skim.
This post title is so me. I face this conundrum every 3.5 weeks of active blogging. What to write about? Without further-ado, let’s take this head-on.
Do a recee: I hop over to the blog categories to recap which topics I write about most often and which ones do well. When I am stuck, there’s nothing better to do than the tested-and-tried.
Take a different angle: So I know which posts attract more readers. I try a different angle to these topics. Some of my book reviews do really well. So, I write a more detailed post on one of the aspects of that book, either focussing on the plot or the characters. Or even do a post on the various book covers a classic book has had ever since it was published. Or the fan-fiction it has spawned. Or the social changes it pointed to. You get my point.
Experiment with formats: Most of my posts are a fixed length. There is a switch in my mind that flips when that word count is reached. I intuitively know it’s time to wrap up. However, I change that consciously just to bring newness to my posts. I post a picture with a short caption a la Instagram. I write a funny piece. I write a listicle. I write a serious, longish, how-to-do post. On occasion, I have written posts with a bunch of pictures showing a journey or a walk in the neighborhood.
Write a book: Whaaaat, weren’t we talking blog posts? Those few months when I had no time or the mental space to write, I decided not to let weeds grow on my blog. I committed to writing one post a week, in the form of a listicle. A year later, I collated those listicles to publish an ebook. Later, when I got another writing block, I decided the subject of my next book. That gave me the impetus to start researching and writing shorter posts around the topic of my book.
Copy your heroes: There is the curious case of a writer who loves to type out the books of his favourite authors. What a waste of time? Not really. I don’t copy my favourite book verbatim but each book has a special element, each author has his own voice. Identify that unique quality. It could be the length of the sentences, a particular mood or visual imagery. I try to recreate that in my own writing. I may only write little pieces that way but it helps to get started. Also, I have used those little snippets as a starting point for other stories. This helps me the next time I feel stuck.
Prompts: There’s something about writing prompts that screams ‘forced’ to me. I used to be petrified of them to the point of avoiding them completely. But in the end, I made them work for me. I channelise my rebellion to write the opposite of what the prompt offers. If the prompt is about the mountains; I write about the sea. If the prompt is about something dead serious, I infuse humour in my story. If the prompt is about what’s outside my window, I write a story of the things on my desk.
Talk to the people in your head: I do that when the people in my life don’t want to listen to my ramblings. There are situations where I thought of a retort seven minutes too late. There are things I read where I want to give my two cents. There are the theories which I am sure would change the world when properly implemented. I write them all. It makes me feel better and in the end I can always crumple up the paper and throw it away. But yes, it gets me started on the writing path again.
What are your tips to looking for topics when you don’t know what to write?
P.S. If you can, please answer this existential question: if we can’t think of what to write, why don’t we just let it be??
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