Content Creation | Digital PR | Tips | Tools
4 Min read

Writers block: How to find inspiration when you are stuck for content ideas

Written by Jane Hunt
@jbh_jane

If we’re being completely honest, we all know these situations. You try to come up with a creative idea but all you end up with is an empty piece of paper. It simply does not flow.

We have all been there and it is part of the creative process to be stuck sometimes. The important thing is knowing how to get out of it and keep the creative juices flowing. What to do? How to spark your creativity when you are feeling uninspired?

Look around you

The easiest way to kickstart the ideation process – and we do that often for creative link building campaigns – is to look at the things others have done. No matter the topic – travel, music, even engineering and mathematics – a lot of content has been created and is just waiting for you to be explored. Google your topic and see what comes up:

Screenshot from Google search for infographics about maths

We bet you did not know that there was a math awareness month. This is where the inspiration starts. Other than a Google search, sources like Pinterest, Instagram and Visually can be used to see what others have done in the past. Now look at this content, identify what resonates with you and why. What have they done that makes the topic work? How could you use it and add a twist?

Asking the right questions

Another way to get content inspiration is to find out what questions your audience is asking. This is also a good marketing technique and you are probably taking this into account already, but we sometimes forget that it can also be used to make your life easier. A good point of call is social media. Check what your audience is talking about. Did your social media team publish anything recently that triggered many comments or questions? Here is your starting point.

You can also use Google Trends to find out what people are talking about this week:

Screenshot from Google Trends early November 2020

Other tools you can draw upon are answerthepublic.com or alsoasked.com. All you must do is enter your topic and see related questions coming up.

Screenshot from answerthepublic.com for the topic Mathematics

What is happening around you?

Another approach that has proven useful this year is reactive PR. Traditionally it was understood as a reaction to negative press, but amidst a global pandemic, reactive strategies have become the new thing in digital PR. You are anyways monitoring your industry and you know what is going on. Is there any inspiration in this? Maybe you published a post a month ago that is no longer relevant. You can pick this topic up again. Did any circumstances for your customers change recently? If we stick to our maths topic, we could think of the way how 2020 has changed the way we teach maths. You could reach out to teachers and interview them about teaching from home. Are there any maths topics that are easier to teach in a classroom? How did remote learning change their way of explaining mathematical concepts? That is how easily you get an idea!

Re-utilize your own content

We already spoke about the content others have published as a source of inspiration, but what about your own content? Is there anything else that you can do with content you previously published? Is there anything else you could do with the original data? Maybe you used it for a blog post, maybe there is a graphic you can create out of it. If you had lots of pictures, maybe you can create a slideshow out of those you did not use for the post. If we look back at our maths example, you might have published the interview with the math teacher. Did he mention any specific calculations you could elaborate on? There might be opportunity for blog posts to explain some of the concepts he mentioned in the interview and so on…

What inspires you?

Creative minds can usually tell you exactly what it is that inspires them. Some go to the bathroom, others take a long walk in the woods, others listen to music. You probably have something as well that sparks your creativity. The common trait of all those techniques is to distract the mind. Stop thinking too hard about being creative! Stop the logic! The best way to do so is to get your mind onto something else.

If it does not help or if you simply cannot go for a walk in the woods right now, there are some quick exercises that can get you into the right mindset. You could take a random object, e.g. a chair, and give it new meaning. If this was not a chair, what would it be? A clothes hanger? A bookshelf? A ladder? See what you can come up with, but don’t think too much. Just write down a few ideas.

Alternatively, you could take randomly selected images, look at them and create a connection between them.

When we tried it, it created those 4 images:

Baby dressed up in a beach outfit. Image by <a href="https://pixabay.com/users/hisins30-3587860/ Skateboard flying through the air, the feet are visible. Image by <a href="https://pixabay.com/users/santa3-3503898/
Pink high heels with grass growing in them. Image by <a href="https://pixabay.com/users/manfredrichter-4055600/ Water drops in front of a blue background. Image by <a href="https://pixabay.com/users/inspiredimages-57296/

How do you make a connection? Maybe the baby is dreaming of riding a skateboard, jumping and flying through the air. But in reality, it looks as if it is trying mum’s heels that are 5 sizes too big walking over the grass that the hoar frost has turned wet.

Are you feeling inspired? Try it yourself. Generate some random images and see what this exercise does to your creative mind.

And if nothing helps, you can still get back to the old technique of drawing a mind map. Put everything in it that comes up when you think about the topic and see what you will end up with.

Post published on Thursday November 26, 2020