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?