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December 21, 2007

Blogging 102: Tips for Surviving A Creative Drought

The best prevention is avoidance. If you’ve got a steady stream of ideas to draw from, writer’s block will never be a problem. The trick is to understand the ebb and flow of creativity. Harness the ideas when they are flowing freely, then stock up for dry seasons.

Because dry seasons will come. Ten new clients dropping into your lap, a new speaking engagement, upcoming seminars, and dozens of other wonderful opportunities can drain your time and energy. When the well of ideas runs dry, the blog is usually the first to feel the effects of the creative drought.

Even if you’re in the middle of the desert, ideas may be flowing beneath your feet. Here are some ideas to help you draw water from the rocks.

News

Weigh in on trends, events, and people in the public spotlight. When the world is watching, you may be able to show up on the radar as well. Relate it to the topic of your blog and add value with your unique perspective.

It is important to take a new angle on the news. You do not want to blend into the thousands of other voices in the media whirlwind. If someone failed, point out ways they could have turned it into a success. If the story illustrates a point you’ve been making, draw out the analogy. If a new idea is taking your area by storm, sound out about it.

If you have a niche blog, you can also talk about little-known news that hasn’t made big waves yet. There is always a demand for interesting stories the rest of the media is missing.

To learn more about getting publicity from news, read this post about Online Press Release Mistakes and How to Avoid Them: http://www.xeal.com/blog/index.php/marketing/2007/08/27/8_online_press_release_mistakes_and_how_

Respectfully disagree

Controversy, when kept at a professional level, can be a great spur for conversation. You can generate comments and page views with trackbacks to the original post that inspired your commentary as well.

This must be handled with extreme care. With any controversy, you take on the threat of negative comments towards you or your company. Tread lightly and courteously when testing these waters. If not, you risk offending a very vocal community leader with an established audience.

Agree…with a new twist

A less turbulent option for interacting with other blog communities is adding your unique spin to an existing idea. This carries the same benefits of traffic and comments via trackbacks. Choose blogs with an established audience, if possible, or smaller blogs closely related to your own.

Since you are effectively sailing in the slipstream of another blog, this should be used sparingly. Commenting on posts from other blogs is a very effective technique. However, you can lose your credibility as a thought leader if you’re always riding edge of someone else’s wave.

Highlight useful links

Since ancient times, farmers have diverted water from existing rivers to help nourish their crops. For years, the Web has generated a steady stream of incredible resources. Mentioning any one of these resources can keep your blog going and deliver helpful content to your readers.

Spin old ideas into new articles

Re-visit old articles you’ve written and look at the subjects you touched on. One or more of those sub-topics might have enough information to become its own article. For example, if you talked about the top 5 things to do to improve your golf swing, you could create an article focusing on one of those 5 things. Or if you wrote an article on choosing the perfect putter, you might be able to do a similar article on choosing the perfect driver as well.

If you’re short on ideas to begin with, check out this post on 20 surefire ways to beat writer’s block:
http://dmiracle.com/general/20-surefire-ways-to-beat-writers-block/

Any or all of these techniques can help you survive a creative dry spell. Once the creativity starts to kick in, keep tabs on the ideas when they’re flowing. Creativity comes in bursts, and it pays to ride the waves when they come.

Not only will you be able to keep your blog rolling along till the next big rain, you might have the chance to build community as well through commentary and links. Who knows? You might help someone else break out of their creative slump too.

Author:  Jessica Cox and Michelle Pierce are graduates of the University of Oklahoma’s College of Journalism with a background in Internet marketing and writing for the Web. They currently provide PR services at Xeal Precision Marketing. Sign up to get crucial Internet marketing tips at Xeal’s free Thursday webinar at http://www.xeal.com/webinar.htm.

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