- Read – deeply and as often as you can
- Don’t just write about it, do it
- Browse word sites
- Go outside of your niche
- Find a way to connect to the subject
As a content writer, there will be moments when the words just can’t seem to make it onto the page. It is frustrating and annoying, but rest assured, it’s not you. This type of professional fatigue is not unique to writers. Do any job for long enough, and you are bound to feel uninspired at times.
True, your job is to write – all day long. But you are probably not writing for a full 8 hours. You are also researching, editing, ruminating, proofreading, staring into space (AKA thinking), attending meetings, talking to clients and colleagues, or taking a (well deserved!) coffee break.
Yet the bottom line is this: you must produce a certain amount of writing output, according to deadline. This demands an ongoing ability to tap into your creativity, even when you are tired, fed up or bored. That’s when you need a bit of inspiration to help you move the words from wherever they are inside you, onto the screen.
Over the years, I have developed a number of ways to inspire my writing. These are not things I do when I am already at the end of my rope and feel like leaving it all behind for a new career… Rather, I do them often, during work hours, and during my time off. The cumulative effect creates a pool of inspiration that I draw from when I need it. I hope these tips will help you too:
Inspiring Content Writing Tips
1. Read – deeply, and as often as you can
I don’t mean read just any book. Rather, read a book that completely mesmerizes you. Where you become utterly lost in the story and can’t bear when it ends. This is the best feeling in the world, and it’s also very helpful for you as a writer. When you read deeply, you unconsciously internalize the author’s language and writing flow. This will help you release your own voice.
This has happened to me a few times, but most recently was my discovery of British-Australian author Nevil Shute. Having read and loved his most famous novels (A Town like Alice and On the Beach), I then launched into reading his entire published works over the course of 6 months. That deep connection with his writing has given me hours upon hours of inspiration. Not because I studied his ‘technique’ or tried to imitate his style, but because I completely surrendered to his words and the worlds he created.
2. Don’t just write about it, do it
As a content writer, you’re not writing a novel (although you might be in your spare time). You are writing about other people’s businesses and products. It’s a challenge, particularly if you have many clients in different industries. This means you need to be a fast expert in lots of subjects (internet, I love you!).
If you are feeling stuck, it might be because you don’t really know what you are writing about. Let’s say you are writing a blog about the best lawn mower features on the market. But you’ve never pushed a lawn mower, so you can’t really speak from experience. What should you do?
Mow the lawn! Don’t have a lawn mower? Go to your neighbor. Live in the city? Visit your local park and speak to the gardener. It’s past deadline and there’s no time for the park? Scour the internet for gardening blogs and lawn mower discussions. If you can’t write it, do it. If you can’t do it, then do it vicariously. The article will turn out better than if you hadn’t tried at all.
3. Browse all kinds of word sites
Sometimes, your creative juices need a kickstart to get flowing. One of my favorite ways to do this is to go on a tangent. How? By scouring word sites.
I often find myself browsing sites for idioms and phrases, song titles and lyrics, famous quotes, synonyms/antonyms, and of course, the dictionary and thesaurus. Even rhyming dictionary sites. I enter a word or words related to what I’m writing about, and see what serendipity throws my way. This often inspires a new way of thinking.
It’s a great technique if you have been writing a lot about one subject, and are feeling spent of new ideas and angles. And it’s fun! I always learn something I didn’t know before, which is also inspiring.
4. Go outside of your niche
Sometimes, the cure for not being able to write is more writing. Leave what you are doing, and take up another writing challenge – one that’s completely outside the niche you are working on. Recently, I devoted some time to translating an Israeli pop song from Hebrew to English. The lyrics were very poetic, and it was not easy finding the words to convey the right meaning. I still go back to it sometimes and change a word here or there.
Writing about something completely different gives a creative ‘shock’ to your system, and it might be just the thing to inspire you for a difficult project. If not, think of it as investing in your professional development – after all, you are still exercising your writing muscle, which will somehow pay off in the future.
5. Find a way to connect with the subject matter
This might just be the most important part of writing. Always write from the heart. If you haven’t internalized the subject, or are not able to relate to it personally on some level, your writing will suffer. Yes, that goes for lawn mowers, dental floss, microchips and any other topic.
You must find and express your truth in every piece you write – even if it’s just a kernel.
Maybe you really appreciate what the product does, or you like the client and their business. With almost all topics, you can surely find some way to connect, even if it feels like a stretch. If you really, truly can’t plug in to the subject, or if you find yourself actively repelled by it, then it’s probably best to turn down the project. You won’t be doing yourself or the client any favors by working in a state of disconnect.
Inspiration is not just happy fortune – it is also a habit. Try to develop inspiration-forming habits that work for you.
Sometimes though, you’ve tried everything and nothing seems to work. The words are well and truly stuck. Then, it’s best to take a break and come back to it later. The world will continue turning if you choose to finish writing another day.
And remember, as with everything else in life, this too shall pass!