Black Eyes and Bruises: How to Finish a Blog Post That’s Fighting You


Finish a Blog Post That's Fighting You

Most of the time, blog posts just kind of flow from my fingers as I type. I might do a bit of an outline before I start, but I can finish the first draft of most posts in under an hour (and sometimes in as little as 10-15 minutes).

But every so often, a blog post decides to fight me. I have a great idea–or so I think–but the words just won’t come. I’m stuck staring at a blank screen, and when I do finally get some words written, I’m not happy with what I’m producing.

So I scream.

Or, at least I want to. I don’t actually scream because I don’t want to frighten the neighbors, but I have a little temper tantrum that usually involves me slamming my laptop closed and proclaiming that I’m giving up blogging and all other writing jobs because I’m no good. At one point, I actually told my boyfriend at the time, “Stick a fork in me! I peaked while in college! IT’S ALL DOWNHILL FROM HERE!”

I might be a tad dramatic when I have writer’s block.

Yet, this isn’t traditional writer’s block in that I don’t know what to write. I know exactly what I want to write. The words are just in a boxing match with me.

I’m going to share with you a few ways I get through it whenever this happens, but please tell me that I’m not alone. Have you ever experienced knowing what you want to write but for some reason not being able to write it? What do you do to get through this kind of writer’s block?

My tips:

  • Delete everything.

Yep. It seems harsh, but sometimes, the best course of action is to highlight the entire post and hit the delete button. When you aren’t feeling it, your readers aren’t going to feel it either, and editing a pile of crap is often not worth the trouble. Save the idea, but burn everything else to the ground. Starting fresh can be cathartic and it might inspire you to approach the topic in a new way, giving you the ability to write something worth reading.

  • Have the tantrum (and work on something else).

As I mentioned, when I can’t seem to write, I throw a fit like a five-year-old who’s balloon just popped. It’s actually pretty effective. I get really mad, pace a bit, and then work on something else. Like a post about what to do when you’re trying to finish a blog post that’s fighting you. (Seriously, I just got done with a tantrum about another post that is bothering me.) Sometimes, I just need to come back to the original post with fresh eyes another day.

  • Play devil’s advocate.

Sometimes, it can help me clarify my opinions on a topic if I try to write the opposite. Playing devil’s advocate is not easy, especially when you have really strong feelings about a topic, but doing so really helps me find weaknesses in my own argument. Looking at a topic from a different angle is also great for getting the creative juices flowing, so for that reason alone, I like doing this writing exercise.

One thing I never do, no matter how frustrated I might be, is publish a post that isn’t my best work. The amount of utter crap on the Internet disgusts me, and by not putting my best foot forward with every single post, I’m only adding to the problem. In addition, it opens up the gateway to complacency. One “meh” blog post easily turns into two and before long, you’ve lowered the bar for your entire blog. So, even if a post takes a little more time, I’ll let it give me a black eye while wrestling it to perfection instead of just muttering “good enough” and hitting the publish button.

Your turn: when you can’t find the right words for what you want to say, how do you get through the blogging slump and finish the post that’s fighting you?

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About Allison Boyer

Allison Boyer freelance writer and content marketing consultant. She also runs the food blog The PinterTest Kitchen with her mom and sister. You can follow her shenanigans on Twitter (@allison_boyer) or contact her at allisonmboyer@gmail.com.

Comments

  1. Darling, I feel you. Due to the nature of my subject matter (probability, game theory, strategy, so forth) there’s often times where I know exactly what I want to write, but I can’t decide how it should come out. If it’s not scientific enough, that compromises my integrity. If it’s not fun enough, readers won’t digest it. Often, I solve this problem by outlining the idea, going away and doing something else for a while, and coming back later. My best solution so far is to have a conversation with myself, where I might start naturally describing how cumulative probability works for picking cards from a deck. Turning the blog post into a real world conversation with imaginary people has greatly helped accessibility and not compromised the content itself.

    • Allison says:

      Outlines really help me too! I use a simple outline with just about every blog post, even when the post isn’t fighting me.