I have written 32 articles for Odyssey. My first was published on April 11, 2016 and I have been cranking out an article a week since then. I have only taken a handful of weeks off.
When you write as much as I do for the website, it is not unnatural for me, and other Odyssey creators, to hit writer’s block now and then. There are some days where I will sit down and produce a 1000-word article with no problem. However, there are plenty of days where I stare at the screen for hours trying to think about an article topic.
As I am writing this article, I am definitely having one of those days. So, I thought it would be interesting to reflect on what I usually do to shake writer’s block. Sometimes, thinking about what you are interested in doesn’t work. Hopefully this can help my fellow writers out there when they are having one of these days.
1. Get away from the computer.
Sometimes, the best action is no action. I’m not saying skip-a-week. I am saying take a break. Get away from the screen. Go do something not related to writing. You just might come up with an idea. If you don’t, I have found that taking a break has always helped me overcome writer’s block. This tactic helped me with many articles, including “7 Struggles Every Basketball Benchwarmer Can Appreciate.”
2. Go outside and think.
Sometimes fresh air is the best medicine for writer’s block. I find this helps me be a little more creative with my articles. My article “11 Reasons I Love Working in Maintenance” was definitely a product of an afternoon outside just taking in some air.
3. Read some news articles.
A great way to garner ideas is read some articles out of The New York Times¸ The Wall Street Journal, and The Washington Post. Look at what is going on in the world and write what you think about it. I wrote an article asking “Do We Owe Hiroshima an Apology?” I came up with this topic from looking at the extensive news coverage of President Obama’s visit to Hiroshima.
4. Snoop around Facebook and see what’s viral.
“We Are to Blame for the Clown Epidemic” was definitely inspired by viral posts on Facebook. I saw an opportunity to write this article when I saw “killer clowns” trending across Facebook and Twitter. I will say that viral topics are tough because many others are writing the same thing, but these give you a chance to separate yourself from others and show how creative you can get!
5. Watch a movie you haven’t seen.
Almost every movie has some kind of message to it, which can be really helpful for finding an article topic. I highly suggest picking a movie you have never seen before. You may gain new insights on an issue, concept, or lesson that you had never really thought about before. Watching the movie Straight Outta Compton inspired me to write my first article, “To Those Born with White Male Privilege.”
6. Watch some late-night talk show videos.
John Oliver, Bill Maher, Trevor Noah, and even Jon Stewart’s old highlights are all great to watch when coming up with an idea. Late-night talk show hosts always have an interesting take on political or social issues, so watch a few videos and see if you get inspired. Trevor Noah definitely inspired me to write “Let’s Stop Using #AllLivesMatter.”
Also, any political commentator can be inspiration for writing an article, even if they don’t inspire you in a good way. “Everything Wrong with Tomi Lahren’s Final Thoughts on Colin Kaepernick” is a prime example of this.
7. Look at some of the trending articles on Odyssey.
I always do this when I have writer’s block just to see what others are writing about and what seems to be popular at the time. I also occasionally read an article that I feel is misinformed, which will either inspire me to write a piece about the same topic or even respond to the specific article. “A Response to ‘13 Dead But At Least We Have Politics’” both critiqued another creator’s article and built off the same issue.
8. Think about what’s going on in your life.
This is the number one thing I suggest every creator to do when writer’s block hits. Think about things that have affected your personal life or some issue in society that has prompted a lot of your thought lately. Many of my articles are written based on my personal experiences, such as “Americans Are Responsible for Our Scary Front-Running Candidates,” which reflected on my recent (at the time) thoughts on the presidential election and the two-party system.
Moral of my article: writer’s block sucks, but there is always a topic. Just try hard, get creative, and don’t be afraid to try new approaches.