The thing about grinding your blogging practice to a halt is that it’s incredibly difficult to start-up again. Cold engines and dormant batteries don’t necessarily want to turn over immediately when you twist the key.
The result is being caught stranded, of course.
Most Midwesterners and Northerners make a point to keep tools like jumper cables in the trunk for just such “stranded” occasions.
Jump Start Blogging
So what do you do? What happens when you find yourself stranded as a blogger and you need to get the engine turning once again? What cables can folks like us use in jump starting?
This post is as much for my own head as it is for yours. Can we be stranded together?
It’s no joke – I’m absolutely guilty of being stranded for the last few months, stuck with keys to a cold, frozen engine on the very platform that helped me travel the interwebz at high speeds. In a BIG way, blogging helped me become who I am.
Yet, I’ve really not been who I am recently, huh.
There’s a lot of reasons for my choices over the past few months, some intentional and others unintentional. I’m not going to go into them right now, and in a sense, it doesn’t really matter anyway.
What does absolutely matter, is the jump-start.
Here’s a first take at my list of potential jumper cables, for me and you to share. If you have ideas that have worked for you, by all means, add them in the comments. I could use your help right now…
26 Completely Random Cables for Bloggers
- Compilation posts make good cables. Curating the opinions of others around you can spark ideas and delight readers.
- Self analysis is a powerful jumper. Try going back through your old work after a long hiatus. Fresh eyes can lead to fresh ideas on old concepts. The internal linking doesn’t hurt either.
- Stick to comfortable post styles and formats. Mapping consistent expectations for your blogging can help take at least some of the uncertainty out of your ideation.
- Hear music. For me, finding lyrics that have taken shape to recent events and using that music to build post ideas can be a muse.
- Build new series. Writing the 3 Cool Kids posts every Monday was one of the best decisions I’ve made as a blogger. Thank you, Gini for being my muse on that one (probably without even knowing it).
- Experiment with new directions for your content. Yeah, you may surprise your existing audience and perhaps some will even lose interest. Learn to be okay with that. Blogging is personal, dynamic and always a work in progress.
- Challenge your old assumptions. Find a post you wrote early on and completely dissect it in some way, shape for form. Be your own worst critic and see what happens.
- Be a silent observer. Find a place to sit, look at the folks around you and just write. Write about what you see, what strikes you and how that relates to your core topic areas. There’s always a way to tie observation to new learning
- Constrain your time. Give yourself a window in which to write. Maybe it’s an hour. Maybe it’s two. At any rate, set a timer and go. When the timer dings – stop. Chances are the deadline will help more of your creative juices flow freely.
- Just write. Sit down and go completely free form. Type whatever thoughts pass through your inner monologue and emotions. Sarah J lovingly refers to this as the art of “Soul Puking“. Get your puke on.
- Change locations. Try a new coffee shop, or park or even a roof top. Try engineering the Hawthorne Effect.
- Disagree. Find something that really burns, frustrates or simply pisses you off. Let the fire burn under your words and go.
- Give yourself a road map. List out all the ideas that come to mind around your content. See what I’m doing here? I can already feel the cobwebs and dust shaking off as I write this.
- Review a book or a video or a presentation (seriously, watch Marty talk about Facebook Advertising at the MediaPost SIS Conference). Springboard off of someone else’s content.
- Lean on your support. Friends, family, colleagues – whoever has your back. Encouragement goes a long way towards rekindling inspiration. (Thanks, Mike.)
- Stop being afraid. Fear is paralyzing. Chances are, the folks who read your blog will be happy to welcome you back.
- Write backwards. Start with the end takeaway for your readers in mind and work backwards to the opening line. Bottom up strategies work well in all kinds of applications.
- Look ahead. Think about where you want to be with your blogging in six months. What about your goals has changed? What are your new priorities? Cadence? Habits? Write about that plan.
- Interview, interview, interview! Find the super sharp people around you and help them tell their stories.
- Start on paper. Mind map, write in moleskins and keep a playbook. You never know when that all important idea might come, and when it might pass just as quickly.
- Find new cool kids to talk about. Who’s doing good work. Who’s doing the best work? Who’s doing new work that’s worth talking about?
- Partner on a post, or two, or three. Find some co-writers and collaborate on new content.
- Be a teacher. Find a way to teach your audience something new. What comes easy to you might not always come easy to your audience. We forget that often.
- Share history. What experiences from your past relate to your future, or the futures of your readers? How can you best get your readers to share in those experiences?
- Let images, pictures, charts models and art tell the story for you. Scott Schuman at The Sartorialist is absolutely genius at this approach.
- Add capacity to your blog. Find additional authors to share your platform. Become an administrator or editor. Drive renewal in seeking collaboration.
Turn the Keys
That’s it. That’s all that’s left to do now.
In order for any of the jumper cables above to work, you still have to turn the keys. I still have to turn the keys.
When the time comes when you find yourself stranded, will you?