I’m sitting in the new “creative room” here at the Pictage office, on a stool facing a new IKEA tall writing desk. My iPod is in one ear, silence in the other, with eraser dust everywhere, and I mean everywhere. This is the perfect scene for my mad scribbling on a large yellow legal pad of paper- writer’s block gone.
For the past few weeks I have been struggling with one of my least favorite things in the whole world, writer’s block. Although I don’t write much on the blog here at Pictage, we are fortunate enough to have great photographer contributors, I do a lot of writing every day at work. For the past few weeks I have been in a creative dry spell, the words not quite stringing together into sentences the way they normally do. The thing about writer’s block is that as you become more and more frustrated, the writer’s block gets worse.
I am being dramatic, yes, but all of this frustration over writing in addition to the conversations that I have had with photographers and bloggers about this topic got be thinking about blogging and how it can be a constant battle to produce content.
Because even if you are writing to explain images and it seems like it should be simple, putting together the right words to explain the situation can be extremely difficult. Just as difficult as writing a how-to article to brides or other photographers, or writing for personal reasons. Through my own struggles with writer’s block I have found a few tips and tricks to producing content and avoiding writer’s block almost completely that seem to work for me and they just might work for you too.
1. Find What Works for You- and DO IT
For me, as I mentioned in the beginning of this post, I need a quiet place sans distractions, a legal pad of paper, a pencil, and a giant eraser. I need to hear music in one ear and silence in the other. This is my perfect scenario. After trying what seems like one million other options, I found one that works. One way to find your perfect scenario is to dedicate a time every day or as often as it fits in your schedule, and try a new writing scenario. Sit and write and see what you like and what you don’t. You will find what works for you. Once you do, stick to it and be dedicated to it.
2. Write Now, Edit Later
One reason I use a pencil and paper instead of a computer is that erasing is a lot more inconvenient than highlighting and deleting. The most unproductive thing for me to do while trying to write is write something on my computer only to go back and delete it all, ending up thirty minutes later once again staring at a blank computer screen.
If you trust that you know the topic, then put your pen to paper, start typing (whatever method of writing that you are using), and go with it. Let yourself write, leaving all deleting and erasing to a minimum. Now is not the time to perfect it, you have time to perfect it later. If you can’t just let yourself write like that then try a little exercise that my 11th grade English teacher taught me, stream of consciousness writing.
Exercise: Write for 5-10 minutes straight (use a timer) without stopping. Do not lift your pen from the paper or fingers from the keys and most importantly no deleting! If you don’t know what to write then write, “I don’t know I don’t know I don’t know”. The most important piece of this exercise being that you take the pressure off of yourself and let yourself write something, even if it’s not what you want to write.
3. Don’t Think- Too Much
When you are in writing mode, be in writing mode. Don’t think about readers, subscribers, or analytics. Focus on the content and leave the rest to editing mode when you look at the abundance of content that you have and get to form it into what you really envision it to be.
4. Be Descriptive
When you are writing, be descriptive. If you are writing about a client because you are featuring the images, think back on the time that you spent with the clients and write about the details, the way the baby’s laugh made his mom’s face light up or the way a couple’s love for each other radiated throughout a room. Getting descriptive helps you connect with your client and makes writing about them easier. It is also really attractive to potential clients.
If you can’t remember the details then try looking back at the images to remind you about the little moments throughout the day and how it felt to be there. Another trick is to carry a notebook or journal to jot down notes throughout the day. Take a quick read through those before beginning to write. (I just bought some J.Crew “Field Notes” packs to keep with me at all times just in case inspiration hits).
5. Keep to a Schedule
Even when you are in the practice of not thinking and letting yourself write, it’s important to keep an editorial calendar or schedule to hold you to it. Find a scheduling method that works for you and be diligent in planning ahead, scheduling posts and topics. If you are at a loss for topics try using themes for different days throughout the week, like The Youngren’s “Recipe Sundays”.
A couple options for editorial calendars that I am sure you are familiar with are Google calendars, iPhone/smart phone calendars, and daily planners. For the Pictage blog I use a printed out Google Calendar where I can use my own notations and can cross off every day as we move along showing progress. For my personal blog I use Google Calendars so that it sends me reminders and can be accessed from anywhere.
One of the great things about platforms like WordPress and Blogger is that you can schedule posts to be published in advance, so that if you write three posts on Sunday you can schedule them to go out every other day for the entire week, leaving you to rest for your next writing extravaganza.
Some of my favorite blogs use this scheduling to keep readers coming back week after week, day after day, simply because it is predictable.
6. The More (Posts), The Merrier
One problem that I found when I was not consistently posting on my blog was that when I actually did sit down to write something I felt an insurmountable pressure to create something amazing to attract readers. Number one, I shouldn’t have been thinking about readers while writing. Number two, when you produce consistent and frequent content (posts) you will notice that the pressure to produce the amazing will die down and you will be able to relax and actually create things that people enjoy reading and recommend to others. It’s funny how that works.
(Note: Posting more consistently can also help with SEO.)
So there you have it, my tips and tricks for avoiding writer’s block for your blog. Thank you for reading my inaugural post on the Pictage blog. After a year of scheduling posts I thought it might be fun to get out behind the calendar and write. Hope there were some take aways for you and your blog.
Join the Discussion:
What are some of your tips and tricks that you use to avoid writer’s block?
What is your ideal writing environment?
What do you use to schedule posts, if at all?
Written by Elizabeth Villa of the Pictage Community Team
Elizabeth is the newest member of the Pictage Community Team. She is not a photographer, but has been inspired by the creativity and talent of the photography community to stretch her wings and explore her passion for writing. When not working at Pictage she is most likely blogging with her sister about style, beauty, food, crafts, and more on their blog theUNexperts.com.