A common scene in movies is this of a miserable writer with no idea what to write about who struggles for days or months to write a few sentences without success.
A dramatic change in his/her life (usually a new love) brings back their lost inspiration — and suddenly they know exactly what to write about.
In reality, things are not always so romantic.
(Skip directly to my list of 25 things to write about.)
If you’re into writing, you’ve probably been in this uncomfortable situation more than once — also known as writer’s block, feeling stuck and unable to find what to write about.
I started blogging to share my knowledge and passion for design psychology and attract clients to my architectural studio. Before launching my blog I hated writing — at least, that was what I thought! But once I started, I just couldn’t stop.
After 5 years of blogging, having published over 200,000 words in both Greek and English, and having read thousands of posts, I’ve figured out what motivates us to create quality content constantly.
Believe it or not, what’s bothering me now is not what to write about, but whether I live long enough to turn all my thoughts and drafts into finished posts!
This is why I’m here to give you some advice and share a few secrets on how to never run out of ideas.
After you read this post you’ll have no excuse to put off writing because you don’t know what to write about.
Clarify your goals and target the right audience
Before you decide what to write about, it’s important to know what you’re trying to achieve.
If your goals are crystal clear (most preferably written down) and you have determined who you’re targeting, you’ll have a much more accurate idea on what to write about.
It’s much different to write for pleasure or as a hobby or keeping an online journal, compared to writing to attract clients for your business or other companies.
Remember, you can’t appeal to everyone — even if you’ve published a masterpiece.
Determine who your audience is and get to know them better.
Have in mind who you’re writing for and use the language they’ll understand. For instance, don’t use technical jargon to impress your readers if they are not industry experts. You’ll probably send them away!
What to do when you can’t think of what to write about
Read a lot!
You cannot write if you don’t read — period! I suppose you read a lot if you’re a blogger or a copywriter. Read a lot and keep notes. You’ll never worry again what to write about.
Go to Google
How many times have you found yourself reading an engaging article, wondering how you landed there?
This is how I’ve ended up buying a useful book recently, and discovered helpful resources, bloggers and experts which have helped my freelance business.
What I love about the internet is how easily we get informed or go deeper into a subject, just following links (and using bookmarks) — all with just a few clicks!
Abandon your comfort zone
In case you’re laser-focused on a specific subject or field, you’ll probably feel stuck or even bored more often. Being interested in several topics is the key to never lack inspiration and to be inventive and innovative with your writing.
I know this first hand!
My love for architecture and design, psychology and visual marketing was the reason my blog and my business exist. Many successful bloggers stood out due to a novel combination.
You can get inspiration from really anything around you.
Books and movies, art, people, experiences, adventures, hobbies, business, science. The more focused, passionate or even obsessed with your surroundings, the easier you’ll find inspiration.
Ask your readers
Even when you know what to write about, it’s a smart tactic to ask your audience from time to time what they’d prefer to read about.
Not only do you get ideas for future posts, but you have the chance to get to know them better, learn what they expect from you, and work to meet their expectations.
I occasionally ask my newsletter subscribers what they’d like to see on the blog or even give them post options to choose from. After you’ve published a volume of content, your blog’s statistics are a good indicator of your readers’ preferences.
In case you’re just starting out and haven’t built an audience yet, follow other blogs in your niche, read the comments and become a member of online groups.
25 Ideas when you don’t know what to write about
1. Write about your passion
Our passion for something was the strongest motivation for many of us to start blogging or writing.
If you are passionate about a topic you want to learn more about, share your knowledge and excitement and communicate with others.
Either you want to spread your obsession with the world, or to attract like-minded individuals, your passion can be the top inspiration on what to write about.
2. Think about what you love (hobbies/food/etc.)
If you don’t have a passion (yet), but still want to write about something, think about what you enjoy doing and you’re probably doing well. This could be a hobby or occupation, sports, arts, music, books, traveling, cooking, fashion, design. The list is never-ending…
3. A topic relevant to your field/industry
A huge number of blogs are business related, like this one. The variety is limitless. You can choose to write for a huge industry (like online marketing and SEO), a more specific niche (like freelancing for creatives) or a very specialized niche (like food photography).
4. Think of a theme
Keeping the big picture in mind, you can be very productive. Choose an interesting and engaging theme and cover it in detail — whether it’s in one post or a series of several posts.
In a business-related blog, common themes are success, money, marketing, client acquisition and client relationships and communication.
Your favorite theme could be something you’ve solved or you’re good at, or something you’re still struggling with.
5. Answer a question
A lot of articles answer common or not so common questions. If you’re seeking information on what people are interested to know about, do research online.
Nowadays, when we have a question, we just ask Google or Quora, or we ask our peers in social media groups. If you know the answers to a few frequently asked questions within your niche, you have your subject.
6. Give solutions to problems
The vast majority of high ranking posts offer solutions to problems. Think about how many times a smart post helped you out in a difficult situation. If you can make a complicated problem simple, then you have a successful post.
Don’t underestimate the value of your expertise, this is a common mistake a lot of us do. Don’t take for granted that everybody has solved this problem or has the answer, because you did. They didn’t.
7. Write a how-to article
Although a lot of how-to-articles are not as effective as their headlines promise (i.e. How to become a millionaire in 8 months), we are all attracted to a how-to guide that solves our problem or teaches us something.
Every blogger or marketer knows that how-to guides are more likely to generate traffic.
Instructions and advice on how to become a freelance writer, how to replace your motherboard, how to make money as an artist, how to send an email newsletter, how to fire a client without looking like a jerk etc. usually make a great post.
8. Write a list-article (a.k.a. a listicle)
Another category of popular articles is lists of #(insert number) of ways, secrets, mistakes, tips etc. Posts including a number rank higher because we cannot easily resist clicking on a list-article.
The scientific explanation behind this is the fact that the human brain is attracted to numbers.
In addition to that, these posts are easier to read (or skim) and their simple structure makes their writing effortless. Brainstorm on a topic and you’ve found what to write about!
9. Choose a hot topic and provide a different perspective
See what others write about and maybe you think it could be done better by yourself.
I had no intention to write an article about the ideal position to place your bed in the bedroom, but I noticed that many of my readers were looking for an answer on this particular topic.
By doing a quick search online, I found out there was nothing written from an architect’s perspective or providing scientific evidence, despite the huge number of searches. Only popular Feng Shui nonsense and other inaccuracies, without any serious justification.
No surprise that my fresh post ranked on the first page of Google in less than 2 months and is heading to the top!
10. Write a sequel to a previous post
In case you write long posts — as I do — dividing them into part 1, 2, and 3 is an excellent way to keep them short and easy to read. It’s also a smart trick to know in advance what to write about.
Apart from that, if a post did well, it’s a good idea to offer your audience a sequel — or a similar post. You can also choose a wide topic and cover it in detail on several posts. This could easily be combined to make an ebook later.
11. Repurpose your existing content
Instead of writing a new post every time, it’s smarter to transform older posts into various formats other than text.
According to online marketers, this is a great way to keep your content fresh and up-to-date with new trends. Creating videos, podcasts or infographics could make an already successful post viral or boost those which didn’t do very well in the past.
12. Write about your life story
Your life and experiences can be an unlimited source of inspiration. Most of us like to read or listen to stories we can relate to, stories which make us dream or aspire.
Some people just turned their entire life (struggles, addictions, difficult decisions, tragedies, travels and adventures) into blogs or books. Using a personal, more informal tone will make your posts more engaging and appealing, even if you write for your business blog.
13. Your thoughts at the moment
Never underestimate a thought that pops up in your mind, even if it doesn’t make much sense at the time or you don’t know where to use it at the moment. Just write it down and come back to it later.
Some of my best articles were outlined or almost fully written in bed. Before, after, or even during sleep! Those ideas would have been lost if I hadn’t captured them immediately.
This is why I make sure I always have a paper or digital notebook by my side. Whenever I start wondering what to write about, I visit my notes.
14. Write about your feelings
Strong feelings are what makes a story powerful and moving.
Especially if we found a way to confront our fears and get over our weaknesses or even turn them into assets. If you’re feeling strong about something you can make an impact, writing a powerful and moving story.
15. An amazing or awful experience you had
Good or bad experiences also make for great content. Sharing the excitement you feel about something wonderful in your life can affect, motivate and encourage your readers.
What comforts me every time I’m furious or sad about an incident, is that it will (almost) always make for an interesting story.
16. Write about your biggest fail or a huge success
My favorite stories are those from people who, despite failures, rejections and barriers — they followed their passion and reached success.
The best way to learn a lesson, is to fail — and the best way to teach someone is through our own experience and mistakes. Educate your audience through your mistakes and failures and inspire and encourage them with your wins.
17. Write about something you want to learn
Most people think that when we write about a topic, we already know a lot about it. However, this isn’t always true.
Many posts require a lot of research and it’s a great occasion for a writer to acquire knowledge on a subject or explore it in depth.
18. Start research on a topic
Most of my business blog posts are based on international research in interior design and color psychology. The moment I start doing research for a new post, I will stumble on studies that can be used as a basis for future articles. It’s just as simple as that!
19. Write about other people’s stories
Everyday life can be full of interesting stories if you are observant. Use your imagination to fill the gaps and make an incident a bit spicier. It’s allowed to tell little lies or add some fiction to make a story more appealing. After all, it’s your writing that will be judged and not your honesty!
“Imagination is more important than knowledge,” said by Sylvia Plath.
This doesn’t mean you can deceive your readers, delivering false or inaccurate information. Always check your sources’ validity.
20. Review a book or a movie
Another brilliant way to share your thoughts with your readers is to write about a book or movie that influenced or excited you. This way you offer a service to your readers in 2 ways:
- Those who don’t intend to buy the book or watch the movie, they have the outline and the most significant points, or
- Those who enjoy reading books and go to the cinema acquire knowledge from it
As I mentioned above, as long as you read a lot, it’s almost impossible to run out of good ideas.
21. Use an image for inspiration
I get a lot of inspiration for my design work and writing by just looking at other creatives’ work. Looking at pictures of any kind (photos, art, design, architecture) can be extremely inspiring. Also, infographics or quote images can give you many ideas for a new post.
Try to include relevant pictures in your posts to make them more appealing and easy to read.
What I read and found interesting is that an image makes it easier to persuade readers about the truth of a fact. (No wonder why all hoaxes use pictures!)
22. Interview someone
When you feel blocked or very busy to research on a topic, a smart idea is to let an expert do the talking.
Asking someone you admire and respect their opinion is a magnificent way to bring more value to your readers — and take a break from writing content!
23. Invite someone to write instead of you
Another excellent way for developing fresh content is to invite a fellow writer to help you out. You can give the opportunity to other aspiring bloggers to express their thoughts through your own blog.
Even if you don’t make enough money yet to pay them, it’s still a win-win situation. Not only you have a new post, with almost zero effort, but you also offer them publicity — while they promote your post to their circle or audience.
This is the path most bloggers follow sooner or later when they’re ready to grow and expand.
24. Translate or adapt someone else’s post (with their permission, of course!)
I recently asked for permission from a famous London based color consultant to translate a post in Greek and publish it on my own blog. If you do it politely and respectfully, many bloggers will not have a problem to share their insights with a foreign audience. Especially if it’s a broad audience they could not have access to otherwise.
25. Talk, but mostly listen carefully to people
I come up with a lot of ideas just discussing with friends. I have the chance (actually, it’s mostly a choice) to be surrounded by creative individuals, a few of them being writers. Our conversations are usually inspirational and a great resource for future posts. Ask your friends’ opinion on a subject and listen to them.
3 Tips to remember when deciding on what to write about
There are no rules
The good thing about writing is we are free to improvise.
Be bold and unique, develop your own style, and don’t try to be flawless.
Although my goal is to improve day after day, I became more productive when I decided to fight my perfectionism. Focus on communication rather than perfection.
Bloggers were my teachers and mentors, and they helped me build my online business from scratch. If you succeed in helping or making 1 person happy through your writing, then your mission is accomplished.
Don’t think about if it’s been done before
It’s estimated that every 1 minute almost 4000 new posts are published on the web. There are hundreds of millions of blogs (some raise the number to a billion) and countless books published.
Everything has been said and written before. We still love to read books and articles though, and everyone has a different perspective.
If you can go one step further and write about something no one has covered yet, congratulations!
Just don’t try to invent something from scratch just for the sake of it. You’ll be wasting precious time and energy. Instead, aim to write the most complete or well-written piece on a topic that a few people will find fascinating or helpful.
Just start writing
My own way to start writing is to schedule it blocking 60 minutes on my google calendar. When I’m not in the mood, I give myself permission to just open a Google Docs page and write a few sentences or keep notes for a few minutes. That’s it!
90% of the time I’ll work more than one hour — the trick is to just get started.
To be completely honest, the Doc is never totally blank — there’s a draft title and a few sentences I may have dropped in there a few months ago when I only had a vague idea about the post.
Write down everything that comes to your mind, you don’t know when and where you could find them useful.
So, ready to get writing?
“You can’t use up creativity. The more you use the more you have.” Maya Angelou
I fully agree with the above quote.
Usually, a person who lacks inspiration is someone who doesn’t work that much or has lost focus. The more productive you are, the more ideas you’ll come up with on what to write about.
So, get to work!
And after all that, if you still don’t know what to write about, leave a comment below and I might be able to help!
Keep the conversation going...
Over 5,000 of us are having daily conversations over in our free Facebook group and we'd love to see you there. Join us!