Got blogger’s block? Can’t think of anything original to write about? Not to worry! Here are some ideas to help get the creative juices flowing.
Are you an original? I am sure you will say “yes”. No two of us are the same, and these days movies, songs and personal development blog posts drum into our heads the importance of individuality.
But this is not a personal development blog post. This is a blog post about your blog posts and your articles. The question is: “Are you an original blogger?”
A lot of emphasis has been placed on “original” and “unique” content recently, mostly because people believe (partly correctly) that Google robots will storm your website and emasculate its rankings if they discover that you are publishing “duplicate content”.
The bad news is that blog owners and blog writers have reduced “originality” to “Can this article pass CopyScape?” You hear ghost writers constantly promising that their copy is original and unique, just because it is not “duplicate content”.
If you or someone you are guest blogging for is even asking this question, you are not only missing the point – you are missing the boat.
Originality is not about rewording a sentence and adding bullet points. Originality is about thinking new thoughts.
Now that’s a new thought!
How can I be original?
Let’s be fair. Not everybody is a creative thinker, not everybody is a born writer, and not everybody is meant to be. So how can someone be original? Here are three prompts to help you.
Prompt Number One: Read three or four articles or blog posts on the topic you want to write about. As you read them, make notes about what you agree with – and, more importantly, take notes about what you disagree with.
If there is something that more than one article says that you disagree with, you have the foundation for a truly original article. Playing Devil’s Advocate is always a great way to be original.
If there is no common theme you disagree with, review your list of points you disagree with. Maybe there are three points in the four blog posts. Maybe just one. In either case, you have at least one, and perhaps three, blog topics to write about that are your own original thoughts.
As you read each post, you could also ask yourself what is missing. Make notes. Every point that is missing is a great, original topic for you to write about.
The bonus of this prompt is not just that you get original ideas. You also know that your topic will interest readers, since several other bloggers have written on it. Plus, you can link back to those blog posts for additional context.
Prompt Number Two: Pick a topic you like – the topic might not be original, nor your opinion – and wrap it in a brand-new analogy. In this case, your idea or topic is not unique, but your presentation of it is very unique. Here are a few ideas of analogy themes you can use:
- Animals: Replace people with animals that display characteristics you are writing about. Even more original is to use extinct animals, such as mammoths or dinosaurs, or to dive into a more obscure ecosystem, such as under-water creatures.
- Food: Describe your topic as a meal. Beware that you might make your readers hungry.
- Recipe: Write a recipe for the advice you are giving. This is a particularly nice format for step-by-step instructions, but again you might make your readers hungry.
- Geography: I am sure you have seen the maps called “The United States of…”. You can put just about anything into map form, and you can do so in writing, too.
- Geology: Every topic has a hard-to-scale mountain, a vast uncrossable dessert, an ocean, an abyss, a refreshing stream, something that is as hard as a rock or as thick as clay, etc.
- Clothes: How can you dress up your topic? Underwear (you can’t leave those off), regular clothing, outer wear, accessories… now write it.
There are countless other analogies possible. You might even consider analogies from pop culture – music, books, games, celebrities, sports and especially movies or TV series. Beware. Pop culture can be a mine field, especially in today’s fragmented and crowded entertainment marketplace.
Yes, everybody knows about Game of Thrones and Doctor Who. But not everybody follows either of them closely enough to get an analogy based on one of them.
Prompt Number Three: Interview somebody. Sure, this is cheating, but when you can’t come up with your own original thoughts, pull them from someone else. Try to be as creative as you can with your questions, and make sure to ask for original content:
“Can you share with our readers one tip you have not included in your course?”
“Can you give me a real-life example of when this has happened to you recently?”
“What was the most successful [whatever] you ever did?”
Questions like these draw original answers from your guest. Nobody else has lived their experiences, so nobody else can talk about them.
Originality pays off
There are hundreds of blogs and thousands of articles on almost every topic. I don’t have time to read most of them. I will read those that are not just the same old, same old, rechurned slop they served up at the last dozen blogs I visited.
I am not saying it is easy to come up with truly original content, especially in well-trampled niches like personal finance, online marketing, fitness and such. But the payoff will be a loyal readership that spreads the word for you – a growing audience of engaged fans.