3 Tips For Finding Something To Say When You're Out of Ideas

I was recently browsing through one of my Twitter columns, looking at all of the great writing links. And I couldn’t help thinking, with all the information out there, what do I have to contribute that’s different from what others are already saying?

There are over 200,000,000 blogs. What could I possibly have to say that hasn’t been said?

Whenever I do a post about blogging, I hear comments like, “I’ve run out of things to say” or “I don’t know what to blog about” or “I’m still trying to figure out the direction to take my blog.”

The bottom line is that most of us struggle with what to say on our blogs. How do we keep on coming up with interesting posts, day in and day out?

I think the blogging dilemma is similar to what happens when we write our books. There are millions of books out there. If we come up with a unique plot or character or conflict—chances are high that someone else has already used them at some point or another.

How do we come up with a book (no matter the genre) that is completely different from something anyone, anywhere has ever written? That’s pretty tough to do. Maybe we can come up with a really “unique” story for our first book. Maybe our second, even our third. But then what?

I’m currently working on writing the third book of my 3-Book contract. After I turn in my completed manuscript to my publisher, I’ll need to come up with ideas for my next proposal. Likely, I’ll try to find at least three more book ideas with the hope that my publisher will offer me another 3-Book contract.

As I’ve started thinking about future book ideas, and as I try to find settings or plots that haven’t been used, I realize that most topics have already been covered. How then can I hope to write books that are different from the masses already out there?

With books and with blogging, we struggle to find unique content. Sure, we should keep striving to find brand new ideas. But even when we do find something, we likely won’t be the first to tackle the topic. So then what? Do we quit blogging? Stop writing?

Of course not. But we may need to adjust how we view the whole process of coming up with ideas. Here are three methods I employ for my writing and blogging:

1. Look for a fresh spin.

Maybe a thousand people have already blogged about the query system. I could have added to the masses with a simple post about the pros and cons of querying or how to write a query letter. But I decided to take a new twist: Is the Query System Dying?

We can take familiar topics but look for new angles, dig deep for the controversy, seek out the conversation starters, find the specific areas where we’re struggling (because it’s likely others are struggling too).

2. Tell it from your unique perspective.

Uniqueness doesn’t depend on content so much as voice. We could take any old topic and make it into something different simply by telling the post or story through our distinct and colorful inflections, experiences, personality, life-experiences, beliefs, and style.

I could list examples of many bloggers who write with distinct voices. One example is Paul Greci on his blog Northwriter. He’s an avid outdoorsman living in Alaska and his posts reflect his unique life experiences.

I believe voice is simply a compilation of all the things that make us a unique individual. When we dig deep and find out who we are, then we can strip away the facades and write from our inner core.

3. Unleash your creativity.

Sometimes we get into the habit of writing in a box—we get stuck in the same old patterns. We need to give ourselves permission try new techniques, brainstorm, go further into the recesses of our minds.

Clichéd writing happens most often when we move too quickly and haphazardly through our writing time. When I’m struggling to find something creative, the first few things that come to my mind are usually clichés. If I reject them and search harder, that’s when I move into a more creative mindset.

Have you ever struggled to come up with interesting post ideas? What about trying to find unique content for your books? Is it really possible to find new ideas or is it more about we present them?


  1. Hahaha...YES I've struggled to come up with new ideas, and I'm a new-ish blogger. Are there really 200,000,000 of us? Yikes.

    I enjoy a variety of blogs, and the ones that keep me coming back are the ones with personality. It doesn't matter what my favorite bloggers blog about--it's their voices I love to read. And the more transparent they are, the more I'm drawn in.

    So IMO, it's more about how ideas are presented vs. the actual content. Everyone is unique and has their own story to tell. I try and remember that when I get caught up in worrying about fresh ideas.


  2. I am struggling right now. Thanks for good ideas and thoughts.

  3. I think Blogging really depends on what you have to say in the moment. I don't plan out my blogs weeks in advance. Usually something happens in my daily routine that makes me think, oh I have to write about that! So that's just me. I don't have a blogging schedule. I started to get stressed over my blog at one point, thinking about how it was a waste of time if nobody was reading it - well, I enjoy it, so it's not a waste of time. And now it's a way for my readers to get to know me better and interact with me if they choose to. It doesn't really matter if you say the same thing a hundred other people have already said that day. Your post will be different because you're different.

  4. I am struggling with this problem right now. Feels like my brain has taken a hiatus and left blogging behind. When all else fails, I just throw up a picture of my dog. :)

  5. Good morning everyone! And yes, Barb. That blogging statistic is from Eric Qualman's Social Media Revolution Video that I had on my blog a couple of weeks ago. I'm sure not all 200,000,000 are writer-blogs. But some days it sure feels like there are that many of us! :-)

  6. This year I challenged myself to a 365 blogging project. My blog is about how life's little stuff points to God, and I'm always on the lookout for fresh metaphors and ideas! If I know of other blogs that engage the same topic, I make the effort to link my readers to those posts because if they are interested in the subject, they might like to read what others have to say as well, and since blogs are an interactive format, links enrich the presentation and reader experience. What I say in connection to what others say creates a different thought for the reader than my, or any, messages received in isolation. Thanks for this encouraging post!

  7. Oddly enough, most days I have too many things to say. I have always been long-winded! I just seem to have so much to say, I can't keep up with myself.

    Started trying to organise different ideas in different files, and now I could spend my day trying to pick just the right one. So on my Blog, I decided to post some of my research materials.

    I'm looking at it like this: As I post and follow the historic timeline of my research, I am also refreshing my own ideas and organising them better.

    My dilemma? As I read and post, the research materials I have more ideas flying at me. Viscous cycle - But one that works for me!

  8. It is amazing how much boils down to being unique and in that uniqueness displaying something that is universal.

    Does anyone else see the deep irony?

  9. Jody, I think it's important to gather ideas during "harvest time" and not let them die on the vine. Every writer / blogger will have seasons of "famine." The remedy, in part, is recognizing seasons of "feast" by pulling ideas into our storehouse. Believe it or not, I have over 200 blog ideas in my Drafts folder. And it's always growing! Most of them are just blurbs, snippets, and links. Still, during the lean times, I can peruse this storehouse for ideas. If someone is serious about long-term blogging, I believe they must find a workable way to identify, harvest, and store ideas. Thanks for the great post!

  10. An excellent approach for a Christian is to pray to God, and ask Him for inspiration. "Just pray about it" may sound cliche, but I figure the Holy Spirit is the most creative force in all the universe, so He is capable of inspiring us in unique ways every single time! I've applied this when I'm really stuck on how to approach a homeschooling dilemma, or how to teach a certain concept to a certain child, etc., and I've been amazed time after time at the strategies the Lord has illuminated for me.

    ~ Betsy

  11. I've been blogging for almost two years now. In my experience, having a distinct focus and not being afraid to let your unique personality shine through is crucial.

    I've never had a real problem coming up with stuff to blog about. There are days when I simply don't feel like blogging, or I can't focus enough to form a well-written post, but that's not the same thing. As long as I am active in the publishing industry, I'll always have something to say.

  12. I came to understand long ago that it's about how we present them, about bringing our uniqueness into our written presentation. Still working on digging deep to do just that!

  13. Love the ideas! And Mike you're so spot on. I keep a running list of ideas too, both in a notebook and an email file. I dig into it whenever I need fodder. But even so, we struggle to express ourselves in a way that stands out from the masses who are also discussing the same things. Making ourselves stand out in the blogging realm is great practice for what we need to do with our books!

  14. Blogging and writing about publishing does get old after a while. I've narrowed my list of these sorts of blogs to a small group that I read regularly. There are so many other important topics in the world--so much info, so little time!!! So much going on in the world.

  15. Great tips, Jody. I liken blogging to one big conversation!

  16. "We need to give ourselves permission try new techniques, brainstorm, go further into the recesses of our minds."

    Great advice, Jody. I'm endeavoring to do just that. I interview novelists on my Romance Writers on the Journey blog, and lately I felt my approach had grown stale. I gave myself permission to try some new formats, found brave guests willing to trust me, and will soon be publishing interviews with a new twist. Whether my attempts will work or not remains to be seen, but one thing is certain. They won't be the same old, same old.

  17. This might be why my blog is a bit of a rambler. I've got lots of ideas and thoughts to post, but they aren't always going to fall beneath one, easily marketable category. Story of my life. But, as long as I'm able to maintain momentum, I'm not going to lose much sleep over not having the perfect blog.

    I spent too many years not writing, because I didn't think my ideas were perfect enough. Now I know, you can't wait around for the perfect idea, you just have to keep messing with the imperfect ones. It's better than not writing.

  18. Good tips. We all have something unique to offer. Tapping into our perspective is one way to keep it fresh.

  19. There are no accidents right? Just a couple of days ago I've dealt with the very same question in my post for the A-Z challenge: E for Einzigartigkeit (uniqueness). Obviously every author has that questions and fears, it's kind of soothing to know!

    Wish you all a creative weekend! :-)

    Karin @ Nofretiris Dream Of Writing

  20. I take advantage of my creative moments. A couple of months ago I had a couple of really good ideas for blog posts. I went to google calendar and started planning out my posting schedule. Turns out I was on a roll and planned out the entire year. Now I have a plan for what to post that I can adjust as needed. I do the same thing with my writing. If I'm feeling creative or coming up with good story ideas I drop everything else until I get them all on paper.

  21. Stories ... I don't struggle with so much. I have plenty of ideas to keep me busy for a long time.

    Blogging I sometimes struggle with, but as it's gone on I've found topics people enjoy seeing me write about. So when stuck, I go with one of those.

  22. Thanks for the mention, Jody!

    Finding unique ideas for stories and posts can be challenging.

    I guess writing what's in your heart and digging deep to uncover or expose what's below the surface is key. It's an ongoing journey and challenge, and some days you'll feel like you've struck gold and other days, well, your pan has mostly sand in it.

    Thanks, Jody!

  23. I've only had my own blog for about two months now. At first I would think - What can I possibly say to writers that they haven't heard, seen, or learned somewhere else?

    It's funny because in the last week or two, I feel that I'm finally finding my "blogging" voice. You gave lots of good tips to keep it fresh. Thanks a bunch.

  24. Oh, yes. I struggle all too often with ideas for my blog. I used to think I had to post each day (uggh!), but I now try to keep it at 3 times a week, and that's much more attainable.
    Lots of great info here! Thanks for sharing your thoughts :)

  25. Possibly because my blog(s) are fairly new, on subjects I'm passionate about, I haven't yet run out of subjects. (Time, yes, subjects, no.)

    Your tips are excellent, and I would add one more - carry a recording device (in my case, it's a steno pad, for another person it might be a recorder) at all times, so that as ideas strike you, you write them down (or record them.)

    You might not use them right away - but in those times when you feel "dry" and out of ideas, you can whip out or play back your notes and remember something you could have/should have written about.

  26. Yes, friends, always remember that you *are* unique... just like everybody else! :)

  27. Love all of the great ideas! Writing Goddess, I really like the idea of carrying a notebook or recording device. I think that partly requires us to retrain our minds to be less passive as we go about our daily activities, and instead by more active in "seeing" the world of ideas around us.

  28. Jody, I am new to blogging (not new to thinking about it, just to doing it), and I love your blog about blogging. I swallowed my pride and bought a smarter-than-me phone with a recorder, and I do use it like I would a pencil required. Which is great, because pencils are like golf balls. Lose one, lose them all. Oooh...sounds like something I could blog about!

  29. Hi Cindy,
    Thank you for stopping by and leaving a comment! I'm still old-fashioned! I carry around a notebook and pen! I wish you all the best in your blogging adventures.


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