One of the questions I get asked the most is “how do you know what to write about?” The short answer is: I don’t. I make it up on the day of writing 9 times out of 10, with the subject matter being born out of a conversation with Keiran or something I’ve seen online. Sometimes I’ll plan posts, but most of time my writing is off-the-cuff and reactive, a screenshot of my mind at any given time and evidence of the pure shite that takes up the majority of my thinking power (“how did someone discover that mixing certain ingredients together makes bread?” “what happens in our brains when we’re ‘in love’?” “if I shaved my head tomorrow, would my Mum like it or hate it?”). Sometimes the words flow through my fingertips with ease, and other times I start a blog post 6 times over, before ultimately admitting it's not going to happen and defaulting my day to errands and admin.
On those days, being a writer is frustrating. When I can’t find the words to communicate a feeling or I can’t find a feeling to communicate at all, I’m stuck. I’m up against a brick wall, and my only way out is to go back to the drawing board and rediscover some inspiration - think of it as my creative wrecking ball, if you will. More often than not a break away from all screens does the trick, but if I’m really struggling, I have a couple of tried-and-tested methods which usually get the juices flowing again. Let me know if any of the below work for you too or if I’ve missed out any gems that could help your gal in future, and until next time, happy reading sassy queens x
Get out of the house
My home may be where I do my best writing, but it’s certainly not where I have my best ideas. As soon as writer’s block hits, the longer I force myself down at my desk, the longer I’m prolonging my misery. The more time I spend writing and rewriting the introduction to a blog post that will never see the light of day, the more time I’m taking away from decluttering my mind and allowing myself to think freely again. It’s very rare that I spend my full day working from home anyway (the cabin fever and my heating bill would be way too real), but if I do hit a wall and I have yet to escape my office, I’ll pick myself up, pop my trainers on and head out for a coffee. Whether with Hannah or by myself, physically being a different, more open and active space often helps to reignite my writer’s flame, and even if I’m not able to get a lengthy 1.5k word article onto paper, I’m at least able to come up with a few ideas and tease out what makes them worth reading.
Revisit old blog posts
Revisiting old blog posts is handy for two things: realising what has worked well, and realising what I should never do again. The latter is probably more helpful to me than the former, because I can often see with fresher eyes how older content comes across, and how obvious my level of passion was when writing. Sometimes you read something and you can just tell it was half-arsed - I needed to get something up on that day, and what I published would do - and other times I can tell that I was writing with real conviction and purpose. It’s handy to look back on posts that fit both examples, because it reminds me to look for direction and to maybe press pause if I can’t find it.
Scour online magazines and blog posts for ~ actually ~ interesting articles
If I find myself staring at a blank page, desperately wracking my brains for even the slightest nugget of something interesting, my go-to action is to seek inspiration elsewhere. I love ManRepeller.com for fashion-related but humorous and lifestyle-rooted articles, and other bloggers like Hannah, Sade, Grace, Sophie and Megan for creative concepts. Even if I’m not directly inspired to write something in-keeping with theme of what I’ve just read, sometimes simply digesting words that have been written with passion is enough to help me find my own. Different perspectives are always rewarding.
Avoid the urge to write for engagement
When your writing is your career, numbers matter. Readers, demographics, followers, purchases - as much as we’d like to pretend that performance doesn’t matter, it does. It often forms the foundation for paid work and growth, and so it’s easy to fall into the trap of creating for self-serving engagement. “I want to write about that, but this post will do well, and it’s exactly what prospective collaborators will be looking for, so...”. We’ve all done it at some point, and whilst to some degree it is fruitful, it’s also a drain on the genuine honesty that makes some posts so enjoyable. Instead of writing what I think others will enjoy, I have to remind myself to write for me, much in keeping with the idea that if there’s a book you’d like to read and you can’t find it, you should write it yourself. Taking a step back and daring to broach new territories or simply speak from the heart often unearths a host of quietly sleeping ideas.
Forget that I’m a blogger, and remember that I’m a young 20-something
That’s what connects me to most of you guys - my age, my life situation, my love for burritos and a really sick pair of black boots - not my job. It can be all too easy to get stuck blogging about blogging, forgetting that so many people who care to click in either can’t relate or simply aren’t interested. I enjoy the odd piece about the ethics of my industry or the changing face of what it means to be a blogger, but on the whole, I’d rather hear about someone’s top five favourite positions in the bedroom as opposed to ~ more ~ questionable hacks for beating the Instagram algorithm. When I’m reading something juicy, I want to forget that the author is a blogger, and instead feel like I’m peeking in to the life of my internet best friend, lapping up salacious date details or nodding along with a tear in my eye as they recall the moments that defined them. It’s the personality, the honesty, and the windows into real life that I enjoy most, so sometimes just taking myself out of the blogger bubble and back into the day-to-day is enough to get the creative juices flowing.
Take a fucking break
And then, after all of the above, sometimes it just doesn't happen. When creating is your career - whether that's writing, painting, photography, ceramics, marketing or whatever else - we often try to apply the same 9-5 rules that constitute a traditionally "good working day" to our own erratic, up-and-down lives. We try and work to the same timelines, dictating that this must happen on this day and that on that, when in truth the source of our own work - ourselves - is so able to be swayed by internal and external factors that no matter how much we push, sometimes it just doesn't happen. Creativity ebbs and flows, and you have to accommodate for that in your schedule. If I'm feeling inspired and the words are shooting through my fingertips, then I'll write two or three blog posts in one sitting, keeping them saved to space them out over a week or whenever I need to rehash something as a back up. Equally, if I've tried to inject a little fire back into myself and I'm still coming up short, then I have to admit that I need a break and let the creativity come back to me naturally. A break isn't a defeat, it's a part of the process.