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How to Beat Blogger’s Block: Part 4 – 10 Ways to Get Your Writing Flowing

Today’s episode is about how to get into the flow of regularly writing great content for your blog. It’s part 4 in a mini-series of podcasts that looks at how to stop blogger’s block. I get asked about it all the time and suffer it too! In today’s episode, I’m tackling the challenge of hitting the wall in terms of creating content, traditionally known as ‘writer’s block’. I share 10 key strategies you can use to beat writer’s block.  

Autumn Flow by Jan Stria on

In This Episode

You can listen to today’s episode above or in iTunes or Stitcher (where we’d also LOVE to get your reviews on those platforms if you have a moment). In today’s episode:

  • What causes writer’s block
  • How mixing up your environment could cure your writer’s block
  • How ‘free writing’ might get you unstuck
  • How writing to someone can help you – and 3 different ways to get you started
  • How getting in touch with someone else’s pain or need can free up your writing
  • Why the time you choose to write matters so much
  • How setting deadlines and creating an editorial calendar can save you angst and prevent writer’s block
  • Why stimulating and inspiring your mind is vital if you want to prevent writer’s block
  • How preparing an outline can break down writer’s block – and a template some bloggers find helpful
  • How writing a different style of blog post can get your creative juices flowing
  • Why ‘speaking’ your blog post might help you get it written down (and how I use this technique)

Further Reading and Resources for How to Get Your Writing Flowing

Other episodes in this series about beating blogger’s block:

Full Transcript Expand to view full transcript Compress to smaller transcript view
Darren: Hey there, it’s Darren Rowse here from ProBlogger. Welcome to episode 86 of the ProBlogger podcast. Today, I want to continue our series on blogger’s block. 

Back in episode 83, we talked about three different types of blogger’s block. Coming up with ideas was one of them, writing content was another, the third type was completing the content. Episode 84, I talked about how to come up with ideas for what to write about. 

Today, I want to talk about how to actually get in the flow of writing and creating that content. You can find today’s show notes with some further reading and some tools at 

Today, we’re tackling the challenge of hitting the wall in terms of creating content. This is probably traditionally called writer’s block but it applies to different forms of creating content as well. I know bloggers or podcasters who get podcasting block. YouTubers have YouTubing block or whatever it might be. Coming up against that wall of creating, it can come about for a variety of reasons. There’s probably different types of writer’s block in the midst of it. Sometimes, you get too many ideas and they all jam together that you can’t get anything out. Sometimes it’s just things that aren’t flowing, your words are getting jumbled up, things just don’t seem to sound right. Sometimes it’s more about being out of rhythm. 

For instance, I have to find it really hard when I come back after taking three or four weeks off for a holiday, vacation, or travelling for a conference. Sometimes I find it hard to get back in the flow of writing every day. Sometimes you’re just tired. Sometimes you just feel uninspired, and just feel a bit burnt out. There’s been a whole heap of times for me over the last 13, 14, years where this has been an issue for me. I just can’t get in the flow of writing and creating content.

In this episode, I want to give you 10 different things that I do to try and get things flowing again. I am very much coming from my own perspective here. I’m an individual person and not going to be the same as any one of you. I hope somewhere in the mix of these 10 things that you’ll get something that will help to unblock that creative flow if that’s something you’re facing as a challenge at the moment.

The first thing I want to talk about is mixing up your environment. For me, this can mean different things at different times. For me, quite often, it’s about getting out of my home, and into a cafe. I like white noise. I find that I get in the flow of writing really well when there’s the clinking of glasses and other conversations in the background. A little bit of music, perhaps, and people around me. I know for other people, it’s the exact opposite. That’s the worst nightmare for you. You can’t really get in the flow in that space.

For my wife, Vanessa, as a blogger, for her, it probably means getting into a library. She loves to go to our local library to get out of the house, away from distractions of home, noise of our children, and me. She seems to work really well in that environment. It’s probably going to be different for different people but try to mix up your environment and experiment with different places for writing. Also, different tools, I guess, as well.

I found that I worked really well when I write offline. When I’m in a cafe, I won’t tether my iPhone to my computer so I can’t get online. That can be a bit frustrating at times when you want to look something up. Usually, I actually find that it helps me to get into the zone because I’m not being distracted by Skype, Slack, or not being tempted to jump on Facebook and all of those types of things. 

Of course, there are different tools that block out distractions on our computers as well. I’ve never really tried any of those that block me from getting me on Facebook. If that’s helpful for you, do search for those types of tools. Of course, you can use full stream mode in many writing tools at the moment as well. I use Evernote and quite often write in full screen mode so there’s no other windows to distract me. You might also want to mix up music versus silence, that might be something. I actually use both. I write most often with silence or with a bit of white noise. Occasionally, I find that music really inspires me. I’ve got a few playlists that I use on Spotify that just help me to get into the zone depending on what I’m feeling at that time. Point number one is to mix up your environment.

Tip number two is try freewriting. This is something that I haven’t done a whole heap of. There have been periods where I have been really stuck with my writing. I’ve just free-written. For me, it usually works like this. I’ll be a bit dry, I just decide to get up early every morning for a week and to write. I actually wrote about this a couple of years ago, I’ll leave a link in today’s show notes. I did this for a number of weeks, I decided to get up at 6:30 every morning and just write.

When I usually do this, I just write on whatever is at the top of my mind at the time. Sometimes it’s personal. Sometimes I’ll write something and get silly. It doesn’t really mean anything at all, it’s just words. Other times it’s about business or work, maybe it’s an idea that I’ve got. Sometimes I write about my children, sometimes I just write about the movie I’ve seen yesterday. It doesn’t really matter. The agenda isn’t to create a piece of content. Although, sometimes you do. Rather, it’s just to write, to get into the flow, and to express yourself, maybe to order your thoughts as well.

It’s about getting into that space where you are writing again. I find that freewriting for me is often a thing that I will do after I have been away for three or four weeks on a vacation, or if I’ve been travelling for a trip and haven’t written for a few weeks. I just find that it just seems to unblock that part of my brain which controls my writing. Sometimes it actually gives you ideas as well, you might actually be writing and it’ll jumble. Suddenly, an idea pops out at you and becomes the beginning of a blog post. That’s certainly been the case for me a number of times now. 

Try brief freewriting. Again, there’s a post in ProBlogger that I’ll link in the show notes that talk a little bit about how I’ve done. There’s plenty of other resources if you do a google search for freewriting as well. If you find a good one, please leave it in the comments on today’s show notes as well.

Tip number three is one that has worked for me many times, that is to write to someone. Sometimes when I’m writing a blog post, I freeze out because I worry about my audience. I worry about the thought that maybe hundreds or thousands of people might read what I’m writing and it’s not just good enough. I freak out. I’ll feel the need to be profound or to say something massive that’s going to change the world and change how everyone lives their lives. It gets a little big in my mind. In those cases, I find that writing to a single person can really help me.

There’s a number of ways that you can do this. You could just pretend that you are writing your post to one of your readers. Two, you could actually write one of your readers an email. Many of my best posts started this way as a response to a question that I got from one of my readers or just me saying, “I see this reader. I know them. I know that they could improve in some area of their blogging if I gave them some advice or if I gave them unsolicited advice.”

There’s been a number of posts I’ve written in ProBlogger where I’ve just written one of my readers a letter. I’ve never published it with their details. Many of the posts on ProBlogger have actually started with me responding to something that I think one of my readers could benefit from. By writing to that individual, then changing it a little bit later to make it a bit more applicable to everyone, it comes across in a more personal way.

Sometimes I actually do send that advice to the individual that I’m writing to. Many times I just publish it because I find out it’s going to be helpful to other bloggers as well. Maybe you want to write a piece of advice to someone you know who’s just starting out in your particular area of expertise, maybe you want to respond to another blogger’s post. This is a technique I’ve used a number of times now. If you are stuck right now with your writing, I challenge you to pause this podcast, go and read five other blogs in your niche. Leave 5-10 comments on different blog posts on those blogs with the goal of writing something useful in those comments. Go on a commenting spree on other blogs in your niche.

I guarantee you that as you write those comments, as you add value to those blogs, you can be getting ideas for things that you can write on your own blog. You’ll be exercising that writing muscle in your brain on your topic. I actually find that technique has unlocked all kinds of blog posts for me. It’s a technique that I’ve never really talked about before but I use quite often. Go find a blog post, read, and write useful content in terms of comments. After that, it will unlock ideas to write about in my own blog.

Tip number four is to really get in touch with a problem, need, or pain point of your readers. I find that I’m most inspired to write when I feel that I’m writing something that could change the life of those who read. My best blog posts often come about after a conversation with someone who has an issue, a problem, a challenge. After a few really emotional problems and challenges, when I see pain in another person, that is after when I feel most inspired to write. It sounds a bit silly and it sounds a bit mean in some ways that I write best when other people are suffering. I guess it’s more about the response to that suffering. That’s just my personality. I write best when I know I’m helping people.

Hangout in the places where places are in pain. That sounds like horrible advice but actually works. Forums can be a great place to hang out because people go to forums and they express their problems. I actually find coming home from any event where I had conversations with people—those deep conversations with people who are struggling in some particular area, that’s after when I write my best post on the way home from the conference. 

Look for those pain points in other people and use that as a motivation to write. Write from those places. Allow yourself to feel their pain. You will find yourself writing with a more genuine passion, a genuine intent, and hope that you’re making other people’s lives better. That comes across in your writing. If you are feeling something in your writing, you’re much more likely to write something that’s going to impact people. You’ll write in a better way, I guess. It will hopefully flow a little bit more as well. Tip number four, get in touch with a problem, a need, or a pain point for your readers.

Number five, get in a rhythm. Put aside a dedicated time to write. For me, regularity is so important with my writing. If I’m writing every day, I find it so much easier to write. If I’m only writing once a week, if I’m writing once a month, it’s really hard going from me. I find that I need to put aside time to create content every weekday. For me, my golden hours are the morning. In mornings I create so much better contents than evenings. The times I try and work to write at night, it doesn’t really flow generally for me. 

My diary will reflect this. If you look at my calendar, I’ve shared it numerous times on this podcast in the past, you’d find that I do my creation in the morning. I try and dedicate at least a little bit of time every morning to some kind of creation of content, whether that be podcasting or writing or video. Get into a rhythm and make appointments with yourself to create content.

Tip number six is to set yourself deadlines and use an editorial calendar. Again, we’ve talked about this in previous episodes of the podcast. We’re not going to great detail here. In the last episode in this series, I think it was episode 84, I talked a little bit about how to generate ideas to write about. The next step for me is taking that brainstorming of ideas and putting them in some kind of an editorial calendar or schedule. We use CoSchedule, there’s a link to that in today’s show notes, which is really great for helping to visualize where your pieces of content are going to fit. You can use any calendar tool to do that, or even paper and pen to help you to work on that. 

I generally plan out my next week or two in terms of what I need to create. I sit down to write and I know that on this day, I need to create this piece of content. I know other bloggers who think much further in advance. They’re brainstorming their next three month of content or even longer than that. In the midst of that, I try to leave a little bit of time to write spontaneously too. I’m a fairly spontaneous person. If I get a random idea, I have the flexibility within my workflow to be able to write about that, not just work to the deadlines. 

I certainly do work well with deadlines in place. Particularly, when other people are aware of them as well. It’s been great for me to have editors on my blog that I have hired over the last few years. They’re able to say, “Darren, where is that blog post that we’re waiting for?” Set yourself deadlines and use an editorial calendar. That’s tip number six.

Tip number seven is one of my favorites. It’s to stimulate your mind and inspire your mind. Your brain needs food if you want it to give output. This means physical food. Good, healthy eating certainly does help you, I find with my creative output. It also means stimulation. What goes in, it comes out. If you’re not putting anything healthy in or anything good into your brain, you’re not going to get much out of it. For me, that means that I work best when I’m getting all kinds of mental stimulation. When I’m learning, when I laugh, when I’m being stretched, when I have good conversation. As a result, what I’m trying to do in my day to day is listen to podcasts, read books, and watch movies, documentaries. To do so, not just on the topics that I’m writing about, but other things as well.

This morning, for example, on my morning walk I listened to an episode of the Hidden Brain Podcast. It’s an NPR Hope podcast on human behavior. It’s not really connected to what I write about but I always get ideas as I’m walking and listening to that particular podcast. I love podcasts like Invisibilia, another NPR podcast.

I try and read novels. At the moment, I’m reading the first Harry Potter book to my youngest children. I try and regularly watch TED Talks, I try and dip into listening to different comedy podcasts. This approach of listening to and exposing your mind to different types of things I think is good because you do get random ideas as you’re doing it. It also gives your brain a break from your work. I find somewhere in the midst of getting this stimulation and not thinking about your topic often leads to those lightbulb moments. That’s certainly the case for me. 

Do make sure that you are learning about your topic as well. I think it’s really important to not rest easy and feel like, “Yeah, I know everything there is to know about my topic.” When you’re learning, you’re going to be more dynamic in your writing. When you are freshly learning new lessons, of course that’s going to be much more interesting to your readers than just you writing about things that you learned 10 years ago all the time. Number seven was to stimulate your mind.

Number eight is to use outlines. Most of my blog posts, at least the ones that have the biggest impact, are generally written in the same kind of way. They usually start with some kind of an outline. In fact, most of my blog posts, particularly on ProBlogger and also in Digital Photography School have revolved around and started their life as lists. Generally, this is what I do in terms of coming up with blog posts. I’ll start with the need or problem that I’m trying to solve. Then, I come up with a list of things that I want to say on that problem. 

Usually for me, I start with a problem then I come up with a bullet point list. It starts out very light, very lean, just a few words for each of the points that I want to make. With that list, it might be five things I want to say or 10 things I want to say. I then work through the list and write more in each of the points. If there’s not much to say on each of those points, it might end up that I published that list as a list. It might be a post that’s, “Here’s 10 ways to do this.” 

If I’ve got more to say in each of those posts, it may actually turn into a longer form article which is then broken down into 10 segments or might have subheadings across it. It can end up looking quite differently but usually my posts do start as some kind of a list during the outline of what I want to say. Once I’ve written that meaty part of the content, I usually then turn my attention to the introduction. For me, an introduction is something that I generally will write after I wrote the main meat of my content. Occasionally, it’s the other way around. My introduction’s generally focused upon the need or the problem that I’m addressing and making some kind of a promise of the value that our reader will receive from reading it. After I’ve written the introduction, I then turn my attention to the conclusion which usually is some sort of a call to action. Either call to action that’s going to benefit my reader, or me or somewhere in between. Then, I usually turn my attention to the title.

In general, that’s the flow from me. I find that by having that outline, by breaking down my blog posts into smaller chunks sized pieces, it makes it more achievable to do. Of course, there’s different ways of doing this. Michael Hyatt, for example, I’ll link to a post that he wrote in the show notes today, he has a six point template for his blog posts. He starts with a compelling title then he has a lead paragraph, a relevant image, personal experience. Then, he has the main body of his content and he finishes with a discussion question. Again, I’ll link to his post where he breaks that down. He finds that by having that template, the writing comes easier for him. You might want to try that as well.

Point number nine, second to the last point, try different styles of posts. This is something I don’t do all the time. If I’m stuck, sometimes I challenge myself to write a different type of blog post. If you’re always writing how to content, perhaps try writing a story post. If you’re always writing personal blog posts, try to write a review post. If you’re always writing news-y sort of posts, write yourself a case study. If you’re always really long meaty posts, challenge yourself to write a 100 word post. If you’re always writing 100 word posts, try and challenge yourself to write a 2000 word post. Mix it up in some way. 

I did this one day when I was really dry. I just challenged myself to write in the third person. I actually wrote a post, 10 Things You Don’t Know About My Dad, The ProBlogger, which was written in the voice of my 2 year old son at the time. I found that just by setting myself that creative challenge, it just got the juices flying. It was fun, it was a different way of doing it. My readers really responded very well to that as well. You might want to try a different style of blog post. Give yourself some sort of challenge, you’ll find that it not only helps you to get into the flow better, it teaches you about writing as well.

The last tip I’ll give you is something I do quite regularly. I’m sure people who see me doing it think I’m a little bit crazy. I try to speak my blog posts out sometimes. Sometimes I think best out loud. I need to say it before I can write it. This is my secret that I’ll reveal to you today. I, quite often, on my walks, I do take a walk most days, I will speak my blog post on my walk. I walk around the block doing this. I’m sure people have heard me in my local area talking out loud to myself. It’s something I do when I’m preparing for a keynote or a talk. Often, my blog posts start that way as well. 

Another thing that I’ve done before, many of you will see me do this, is jump on the Periscope to talk about an idea that’s half formed in my mind. That later becomes a blog post. By having spoken it, had a conversation about it in that way, even if it’s just a one way conversation, it seems to give you inspiration. It comes out better, I find. Sometimes when I’m out on my walk, I’ll pretend to be talking or doing a podcast. Sometimes it’s more of a conversation. If you have a friend who knows about your topic, you might want to have a conversation with them as well. Even have them help you to outline the blog post. It might just help to unlock your ability to write that post.

Similarly, I’ve been known to publish drafts of posts on other social networks as well. Many of you have seen me do this on Google Plus, on LinkedIn, and on Facebook. I might publish that outline of the post. “Here’s 10 things you can do to do this. I’d love your feedback on it.” Then, based on the feedback and the list that you already published, you could turn that into a blog post as well. If you’re feeling stuck, you feel like you’ve got the basics, the outline, it’s getting into the flow, put it out there in a different format, and see how people respond to that. You might just find that those responses inspire you to finish that post and to fill that out in some way.

They’re just 10 of the things that I do and have done over the last 13 or so years of blogging that have helped me to get into the flow of writing. Now, I’m very aware that I’ve created this list out of my own experience. I am different to a lot of other writers. I know other people work very differently to me. I would love it if you would let me know what unlocks that writing, gets you into that writing flow. You can do that on today’s show notes over at

I would love it if you’ll leave me a comment and tell me a little bit about what helps to unlock the writing flow for you. If you have a moment, I’d love it also if you’ll leave us a review over on iTunes. I’ve been reading the reviews, there’s been quite a few come in this week which have given me a lot of joy to read. Some of you are quite funny in the reviews you’re leaving as well. I love it particularly when you do leave a link to your own blog or at least give me the title of your blog so I can check out your blogs as well. If you’ve got a moment today, I do appreciate those.

The next episode in this little series will complete this series on blogger’s block. I’m going to talk about completing your post which is something else that I know a lot of bloggers do struggle with. They get the ideas, they write the content, but they never actually publish it. The post just sits in their draft folder. Episode 87 will be on that in a couple of days’ time. 

Thanks for listening. I hope you have a great week of blogging.


How did you go with today’s episode?

Have you suffered from not being able to get into a regular rhythm with your blog? Have you got a strategy that helps you feel more ‘in the flow’? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below.

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