The first Monday of each month, I dust off a favorite post from the Bennis Inc Blog archives and give you another chance to enjoy the wit and wisdom that’s been shared. Enjoy this month’s treasure – and if it inspires you – be sure to share it with family and friends!
Have you ever come to a day, maybe even a week or longer, when you felt like your brain was on screen saver mode and you couldn’t wake it up? For me, this most often happens as it relates to creative writing, which is unfortunate because this is at the core of what I do all day, every day. But we’re human, and it happens. So what can we do about it?
What’s funny is that the inspiration behind this very topic was my own writer’s block. When I sat down at my computer to write this very blog, I struggled to find a new topic I felt like I hadn’t already covered in some shape or form. Entrepreneurship? Check. Marketing and strategic communications? Check. Time management? Check. The balancing act of work and parenthood? Double-check.
So there I sat, the little blinking cursor on a blank white background, wondering what words could inspire others. Then it came to me. If I’m struggling from blogging fatigue, maybe you are too. And though I say blogging, this can really apply to any writing that might be on your to-do list this week. That email you need to send to prospective clients, the updated content your LinkedIn profile so desperately needs, or a refresh to your website that still references employees who are no longer with you or services you no longer provide.
When I feel like I’m drinking from a dry well of inspiration, these are the eight questions I try to ask myself to stir up some new thoughts and ideas. Even if it’s a technical topic you might need to write about, starting with a full tank of creativity always yields better results! Allow yourself to walk through the following questions, and for the creativity to flow.
What was the most fulfilling thing you did this week?
Reflect on the last 7-10 days, each one at a time. What did you do that day personally and professionally? Keep in mind (and I’m sure I’ll say it again), most of the best writing inspiration comes from things that take place far outside the office or board room. What was that moment or moments that left you feeling fulfilled or accomplished? What were you doing in that moment? Harness this confidence and enlightenment to tell others how they may accomplish the same.
What was a recent problem you solved?
It’s our very nature to love a good problem-resolution story. What problem did you recently solve? Whether it was a large issue at work, or navigating a challenging situation in your personal life, by sharing the solution you discovered you might just help others do the same.
Did someone recently seek your expertise on a topic?
If someone reached out to you for advice or input on something because they respect your knowledge and expertise, this could be a great topic to write about. Clearly, they value our opinion and feel you may know something they don’t. Find a way to write about this topic in broader terms to share insights others might value, too.
What has irritated you lately?
Okay, this is not intended to inspire a Facebook rant-style of writing, but rather allow you to process and work through this irritation through writing. You might be surprised to find that whatever monkey has been your back lately, is hanging onto others well. The key is to keep the focus positive and to look for a solution for how you can work around this irritation (at work or elsewhere) and prevent it from becoming an ongoing thing.
Is there an uncommon quote that inspires you?
I stress “uncommon” here because those cliché quotes we’ve heard a thousand times and have seen printed on plaques have become background noise. Instead, think of an excerpt from a book you love, a scripture verse most people gloss over, or a thought-provoking quote from someone most people don’t know. These words are still valid and true, and they might just be what someone needs to hear today, combined with your thoughts for context and application.
What is a recent success or triumph?
Think of the one thing you recently accomplished that surprised even you. Did you reach a new personal fitness goal, negotiate a higher salary with your employer, or teach your child to use the toilet (major stars for this one)? Whatever actions you took to accomplish this, people are interested to hear how you did it. Even if it’s not immediately applicable to their lives, reading about other people’s successes inspires us to seek our own.
Is there a question you feel like you’ve been answering again and again?
If you work in an industry where new trends and technology hitting the market can spur a lot of questions from customers or clients, then you know what I’m talking about. You might feel like a broken record, or even start copying and pasting answers to people’s common questions. This is a sign that this topic would make a great blog post, or even a social media post, if you can keep it brief enough. You’ll be able to put all your thoughts in one place and point people toward this answer in the future, should more questions come in.
What valuable lesson did you learn this month?
Lessons learned, through both positive experiences and hardships, are valuable stories to share with others. Even if the events leading up to this lesson weren’t glamorous, or even a little embarrassing and raw, keep the focus on the lesson you gained and how you’re bettering your life and/or career because of it. People will be inspired by your openness and authenticity, and will be grateful to learn this lesson through your experience.
When writer’s block strikes, how do you breakthrough? If you have found an effective technique, please share it with us by leaving a comment below.