Overcoming blog writers block: top tips from other bloggers

I’m in the process of updating some training on blog writing and so asked my Twitter followers for their top tips and how they approach writing a post.

Here’s what they came up with:

  • Think about using The Pomodoro Technique® (structured time keeping for activities) here’s an example post using it. – @abigailH
  • ‘Think about where else it might get re-produced write with a specific audience in mind.’ – @AdamVincenzini
  • ‘Use a local/offline editor — on the Mac, MarsEdit is king.’ – @nevali
  • ‘If I can nail the title, the rest of the post just writes itself. The title describes “what?” and the post fulfils “so what?”‘ – @helenduffett
  • ‘Don’t be afraid to amend or add to a blog post after it has been published as a story evolves or new facts emerge .’ – @jonworth
  • ‘Do it somewhere different from other work. I often write posts with my laptop on the kitchen counter (with coffee).’ – @stray_and_ruby
  • ‘Really, really keep most posts under 300 words. Always look at the word count, so you know how much you write.’ – @gregorymarler
  • ‘People love reading about themselves, so write about people.My concert reviews of visiting USchoirs are widely read.’ – @timothywriting
  • ‘Find your voice.’ – @dickyadams

And mine?

I try to think about what might be useful or entertaining to others and I occasionally use this blog to think aloud. Presuming that you’ve already decided roughly on a topic or have an idea these tips might also help:

  • Write your post as an email to yourself
  • Explain your idea for a post to someone else, thinking about the main thing you’re trying to say, then write it down
  • Don’t worry about writing from the top, start in the middle and then fill in as you go
  • Think about how you would explain something to someone else
  • Just go for it, then edit
  • Have a person in mind that you’re writing to

UPDATE 20.45, 16/06/2011
I think I’ve been caught out…
Nicholas Toller Tweets
Nicholas Toller second Tweet

Notes for the Kingston School of Writing launch event

Tuesday (3 May, 2011) saw the launch of the Kingston School of Writing, at the RSA in London. I was kindly invited, via former New Statesman colleague (now professor of journalism at Kingston University) Brian Cathcart, to join a short panel discussion on the future of writing and what students ought to be taught. I was asked to consider the digital aspects of this question. Due to time the discussion focused quite heavily on creative writing, so I thought it might be useful to post here the notes I made before the event:

A few things that interest me in this area from a digital perspective across all types of writing and storytelling. They can probably be split into what is still important, what is now possible/new and what students should be aware of. A few examples:

What’s still important

  • Narrative and the ability to construct stories well – both linear and non-linear. As stories such as the Wikileaks US Afghanistan / Iraq papers show, data alone does not a story make
  • Understanding narrative arcs and meta narratives and the role they still play – as the wedding showed clearly at the weekend
  • Headline writing, and summarising concisely and accurately – Twitter and search engines make this an absolutely vital skill
  • Sources and verification – in a world where anyone can quickly check information, showing and having clear (verified where possible) sources is going to become more and more important to maintain trust.

What’s new(ish)

  • The ability to connect media, create cross media experiences and take the reader on a journey, if they wish to follow – from the Archers on Twitter onwards
  • The numbers of possible outlets and possibilities
  • That the reader is now a participant and contributor to the story – even for printed books, where fan fiction keeps rising

What do students need to be aware of or have

  • The ability and willingness to experiment and not worry if they fail
  • User experiences and how to construct stories across media
  • If journalists – data
  • Business, networking and marketing skills
  • The breadth of possible work beyond the traditional jobs – writing for games, copywriting, PR, possibilities with mobile devices

For those interested this article by Jay Rosen ‘What I think I know about journalism‘ is well worth a read. And the following are related older posts of mine:
A modern journalists job description
So you want a job in journalism?