Every blogger runs out of ideas from time to time. But the better bloggers know that one key solution to writers’ block is to read more.
It was one of those weeks. The well of inspiration was dried up, and I was still staring at a blank page and a blinking cursor. My mind was blank. I had no ideas what to write. And then it occurred to me why: I had been so busy working, I hadn’t taken any time to read the blogs I normally follow.
It may come as a surprise, but many better bloggers follow a half a dozen or more competing blogs – blogs that cover the same, or similar topics. Why would they want to read from the competition? Wouldn’t that be like a mechanic taking his car to the shop down the street?
Blogging cannot happen in a vacuum. It is, at its core, a conversation between writer and reader, but also between writers. A blogger who reads the work of her competitors can be inspired by what she reads, whether it is:
- A new trend she is also seeing;
- A new development she hadn’t heard about yet;
- A perspective she doesn’t share.
Debate between and among bloggers is healthy. A robust disagreement can take a blogger from a blank page to a full post in no time flat.
But you can’t get there if you aren’t exposing yourself to others’ ideas. If you live within the bubble of your own work, you will never know how it could relate to, connect with, or contradict other commentators in your field.
A blogger should never skip reading. A well-researched blog will always make the author appear to be an authority. But more than that, reading opens your eyes to topics you never would have come up with alone.
Aspiring bloggers should create a list of a few key blogs they will follow to help them develop their craft. These could be blogs about writing, competitors’ blogs, or even news from their industry. Here are a few of the blogs I use for inspiration:
When times get busy, it can be tempting to push that reading to the back burner. After all, reading blogs doesn’t have a deadline. But writing does. You should be blogging regularly, and that means you need a constant source of new content. When you get busy and skip your reading, you will quickly deplete the “evergreen” blog topics you keep stored away in your brain and find yourself with nothing to write.
So the next time you find yourself facing a blank page and the tall wall of writer’s block. Take a step back and read. Let the blogs you follow fill up your reserves and provide you new content ideas that are fresh and ready for your unique perspective. The Internet is vast – somewhere out there, someone has written something that will open your floodgates. But you won’t find it if you don’t read more.
Lisa Schmidt is a writer for Legal Linguist in Ferndale, Michigan. She provides blogging and web content for law firms and small businesses. If you need help creating a high-quality blog for your website, contact Legal Linguist today to schedule a meeting.