Anyone who writes a blog for an extended period of time hits a point where they feel as though they’ve run out of words (or a blogging rut). We work so hard to create engaging content and build an audience. We gain the audience, they’re excited for each post and hungry for more. Then, suddenly, the word flow runs dry. Panic time!
Actually, you don’t need to panic. You need to take a deep breath.
According to WordPress, I’ve posted over 2100 times on my blog on the writing life, Ink in My Coffee . I blog most weekdays, and have for nearly a decade. Ruts exist — but you can overcome them.
Freelance writer and veteran blogger Lori Widmer, of Words on the Page suggests, “Whenever I’m finding myself in a rut, I cut down on the number of blog entries I post in a week. Also, I draw from current situations. An example this week is when a client and I didn’t mesh. I found a teachable moment in that circumstance.”
Adds Erica Rodefer, of the long-running, excellent blog Spoiled Yogi, says, “Of course I get into ruts! Sometimes I find ideas by browsing other blogs or scrolling through my social media feeds. But the best thing I’ve found I can do when I feel uninspired is to step away from the computer! I go outside to take a walk, call a friend, get on my yoga mat, or meditate and do something (anything!) that will take my mind off of it for awhile. Often I’ll get an idea while I’m doing something completely unrelated–and if not, when I come back to it with fresh eyes things make more sense.”
I tend to push through, but there are times when I walk on the beach, get back on the yoga mat, and I’m known to have many of my best ideas in the shower.
What is the focus of your blog?
Most blogs are created to deal with something specific — writing, food, politics, someone’s unique personal view of the world. Our lives grow and change, our professions grow and change. Our blogs need to grow and change with us.
The focus with which you started may change over time. Do you still want to write about this topic? Or is it time to move to something else? Is it time to start an additional blog on the other topic while keeping the current one? Or should you wind down the current blog and start a new one?
That’s an individual decision, and you need to make the decision that best serves your vision. However, if you decide to stop writing a blog, break the news gently and honestly to your readership. Don’t just say, “I don’t have time to blog” — which is a slap in the face to your readers. They MAKE time to read your words; if you tell them you “don’t have time”, you tell them that they are not WORTH the time it takes for you to write the blog. It’s an insult, and most readers will realize it as such. Now, you’ve lost them forever.
If, however, you tell them that you feel like you’ve said all you have to say about this topic and are either taking a break or writing about a new topic (inviting them to join you), you are considerate of the time they’ve invested in you, while still being true to your needs. It’s a thoughtful and diplomatic way to bring about positive change.
Try Something New
If you’re writing about the same topic in the same way, over and over, maybe it’s time to write about something new. If you write a gardening blog, try growing something a little different. Prove the “experts” wrong, through you care and nurture of an unusual plant (as long as it’s non-invasive and won’t hurt the local eco-system). Interview the owner of a gardening center. Take a field trip to a botanical garden and write about it. If you write a food blog, write about a new restaurant or take a class out of your wheelhouse and share your experiences.
I admit it — I sometimes force myself out the door to go and do something so I have something to write about. But, once I’m OUT the door and DOING — I have a terrific time, and creative ideas for articles, stories, and scripts beyond the blog posts flow.
“I keep a running list of ideas,” said Erica Rodefer. “I add to the list anytime I get a new idea, no matter how silly it seems at the time. That way when it’s time to write, I have a few different avenues I could explore.”
Are you writing only for yourself or only for your audience? The best blogs do both — they serve the writer’s vision, while conveying information that’s both useful and entertaining to the audience.
Erica Rodefer agrees. “It’s always helpful to reassess what you’re writing and why,” she says. “It’s important to me that the things I’m putting out there are relevant to the people who read my blogs — because if I’m just venting about my personal feelings I might as well keep a private journal instead. So, yes, I look to see what people are responding to most, what Google searches bring them to my page, and I try to create as much content as I can around those topics.”
To Vent, or not to Vent?
Wise words from Erica, above. I still keep a personal, handwritten journal, where I can do my venting. I do vent publicly on particular issues, especially when they have political and social relevance tied into my writing. I don’t believe in “going along to get along.” I’m a big believer in taking action against injustice.
However, in a case where I read a book and it doesn’t work for me AT ALL — I don’t vent about it on the blog and trash the writer. I know how much it takes to write a book. If I’m a paid reviewer for a publication, I will be honest, but I will not trash a colleague on my blog, even if that particular outing doesn’t work for me. It’s a challenging balance.
Remember to Have Fun
Blogging is a way to share passions. What fascinates you? What intrigues you? What makes you excited to get out of bed every morning? Ultimately, if you’re passionate about and dedicated to a topic, you can engage your audience.