a peek inside the fishbowl

21 Jan, 2013

10 things to do when you’ve lost your blogging mojo

Posted by andrea tomkins in: The business of blogging

I think I’ve written about this before here on the Fishbowl, but I don’t believe in writer’s block. Block implies there’s an impenetrable obstruction that requires major effort to overcome. A monolith. A barrier. A hurdle. A great big wall.

Not a very happy image, is it?

I prefer to think of writer’s block as an emptiness that can be easily filled. I think of myself as a vessel, a vessel that sometimes runs dry and needs to be topped up every once in awhile. It is never a permanent condition.

A lot of bloggers start the new year making resolutions about writing every day, and this is about the time they start to lose faith. Some people advise to push past it, and that aspiring writers must force themselves to keep writing, but I’m not sure about that. I think the trick is to take a few steps away from my desk and change our perspective.

Off the top of my head, here are a few things to try if your vessel is running dry (remember, it’s not a wall). These have all worked for me.

1. Change the way you feel and think about writer’s block. My outlook has been a real game changer for me, and my vessel doesn’t dry out nearly as often anymore.

2. Go on a media detox.
Turn off the TV, put away the iPad, turn off the computer, and do something else. A lot of what we consume is very passive, and although there’s nothing wrong with that I also believe that feeding our brains a constant stream of candy isn’t very good for us. How can we let creative ideas take root and grow if there’s no time to think dream them up in the first place?

3. Take a very long walk. If you are a walker you probably already know where I’m going with this. Your brain is hard at work while you wander (preferably iPhone and iPod free!). It’s kind of amazing how this happens. When you are free of distractions – and not dwelling on your empty vessel – you will find ideas popping into your head.

4. Refill your soul: visit your local art gallery or museum. Or go to a concert! Go alone, with only a notebook for company. Look at stuff! New stuff! And think about The Stuff. It sounds simple, but it works.

5. Make a date with a friend. I think this one is self-explanatory! Again, it’s about changing scenery and shaking things up a bit.

6. Become an observer. Take photos, and record sounds. (I am really interested in this sound recording thing right now! If you are an iPhone user look up SoundCloud.) Shift your perspective and try to look at things a little differently.

7. Buy a newspaper and read it cover to cover, even the stories you wouldn’t normally read. I’m going to throw this one out there even though #1 indicates you should do the very opposite. This kind of sounds like homework, but stretching your brain and firing up your synapses will do you good.

8. Go for a drive, but turn off the radio. Same idea as #2! Basically, this creates a positive environment for you and your creative brain. It’s important to give ourselves space to think.

9. Do something out of your comfort zone. Maybe it’s as simple as going to a restaurant or a movie by yourself. Or donating blood. Or taking a flying leap off the high diving board at the Sportsplex. You may just amaze and inspire yourself and discover something new while you’re at it.

10. Start lists, keep lists. I’m a big list maker. Evernote is wonderful for this purpose. I keep running lists of blog post ideas, ideas for other clients/jobs, recipes I want to try etc. If your vessel is on the verge of drying out, consult your list. There might be something there that will help.

As someone who’s been writing since she was able to hold a pen I am always confident that the words will come back to me, and that I will be filled to the brim with ideas once again. What about you? What do you do to fill your vessel?


8 Responses to "10 things to do when you’ve lost your blogging mojo"

1 | Lisa from Iroquois

January 21st, 2013 at 1:32 pm

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Every once in a while I settle down with a trashy novel. The kind you can read in a single day. I’m working on my thesis and sometimes I just need to read nonsense just to let the gears in my head ease up a wee bit.

2 | Zoom

January 21st, 2013 at 2:03 pm

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In my experience, the more often you blog, the more often you’ll think of things to blog about. The reason for this is that you develop a finely tuned “blogger’s eye.” You’ll mine your surroundings and your life for content. It’ll happen automatically.

But I have to admit I’m in a blogging slump right now. I feel sad that so many of my favourite bloggers have stopped blogging; I think we all fuelled one another and now I’m running out of steam.

3 | andrea

January 21st, 2013 at 2:21 pm

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Good suggestion Lisa! I think it’s good to let go of the “work brain” and feed it something different for a change.

Zoom, I know what you mean about Blogger Eye. Something will happen and I find myself thinking, “Man, I can’t wait to blog about this!”

Bloggers definitely fuel each other too. And you’ve brought to mind a great topic for a blog post when you feel like you don’t have much to say. If you read a great blog post it might be a good idea to write a response on your own blog instead of leaving a comment that’s a mile long. (I would just advise newbies to make sure they link back to the blog post they’re responding to!)

4 | Javamom

January 22nd, 2013 at 10:46 am

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I have been on a surge of posting to my blog lately, but I blab about everything that pops into my head. Lately, that’s been a lot…so that’s been helpful. At the same time, it wasn’t that long ago that I was at a point where I wanted to shut down Javaline all together, due to lack of fuel. :)

I like the suggestions you made. Turn off twitter, facebook, listen to some classical music, or your kids chatter, and read books. Just BE. Pet an animal. Make notes if you come across something inspiring, but don’t worry if you can’t put it into a post. I know I’ve been there, where a lack of propulsion keeps you feeling dried up. But it’s ok to be silent for a while, too.

My dilemma right now is that I have too much to say, but some of it is personal and about my kids, and I am struggling to find out where the appropriate line is. How much to tell, what to tell, whether to tell….Journaling with a pen, the old fashioned way, might help out too. Later, you can go back and take from the journal and formulate a blog post if you want to.

:)

5 | andrea

January 22nd, 2013 at 10:54 am

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I like that Javamom! JUST BE. The rest will come! And yes, it’s ok for a blog to be silent for awhile too. :)

6 | Insane Mamacita

January 22nd, 2013 at 2:10 pm

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Thank you so much for these tips! I just decided to start writing for me again on my blog. Will definitely be following some, if not all, of these tips!

7 | Bloggy resolutions; do you make them or just break them? >> a peek inside the fishbowl

December 26th, 2013 at 1:04 pm

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[…] I will never force myself to write if I have nothing to write about. I will do my best to keep the vessel full. […]

8 | 15 things I’ve learned about blogging over 15 years of blogging >> a peek inside the fishbowl

May 13th, 2014 at 10:48 am

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[…] Evernote are perfect for this. You’ll never lose a Post-It/napkin/scribbled note ever again! This post may be useful to you if you’ve lost your blogging […]

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The Obligatory Blurb

My name is Andrea and I live in the Westboro area of Ottawa with my husband Mark and our dog Piper who is kind of a big deal on Instagram. We also have two human daughters: Emma (20) and Sarah (18). During the day I work as a writer at The Royal Ottawa Mental Health Centre. I am a longtime Ottawa blogger and I've occupied this little corner of the WWW since 1999. The Fishbowl is my whiteboard, water cooler, and journal, all rolled into one. I'm passionate about healthy living, arts and culture, family travel, great gear, good food, and sharing the best of Ottawa for families. I also love vegetables, photography, gadgets, and great design.

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