I’m honored to have Victoria Greene here to talk to us about writing prompts. Take it away, Victoria!
7 Writing Prompts That Will Help You Get Going
Every writer reaches a point where they just can’t write anymore, no matter what the topic. You just hit a wall and want to put away your laptop for good. However, with deadlines looming, you can’t just curl up under a blanket and wish away your work. You’ve got to get things done!
When you’re stuck, people will often tell you to go for a walk, clear your head, or something of the sort. In reality, this may not give you the focus you need to get the job done. What you really need are some prompts to get you going.
We’ve made a list of questions that have been designed to get you out of a rut in your writing. Related reading: Roller Coaster Life of Writing.
What have I never written about before?
When you’ve been writing for years, sometimes it can feel like you run out of things to say. There are two ways around this: you could dig up old content and rework it, or you could think of something entirely new. The latter obviously sounds like the harder option, but there are many ways in which you can think up fresh content on a well-worn topic.
A great way to do this is to think of a subject and compare it with something else: you can talk about why creating SEO content is like baking a cake, or how remodelling your home is like rebranding a business. Take for example this article on Entrepreneur.com: How to Prep Your Business Like an Olympian. It details the ways in which running a startup is like training for the Olympic games, from nutrition to collaboration.
No matter what subject you’re writing about, it can certainly be livened up with a metaphor of some kind. Try thinking outside the box to come up with something innovative.
What is this about?
No one wants to read waffle. Get to the core of what you’re writing; whittle it down to its basic components in order to truly know what your subject is. Write out a ‘standfirst’ line to tell both your readers and yourself what you want to say! Often, writers can get stuck in a rut because they lose sight of what a piece is truly about. If you’ve already written half, try taking a look back at what you’ve already done, and with each sentence ask yourself: is it relevant to the point of the article? If not—get rid of it.
Why are you writing it?
While you may be writing something to make sure your website stays updated, there needs to be another reason behind why you’re writing it, in order to produce the best content. Do you want to attract people to your brand or simply share your knowledge with the world?
When you find this reason for why you’re writing, it will help you to approach your work from the right angle. Writing simply to fill up space on the internet becomes extremely demoralizing after a while—hence why you may be experiencing writer’s block!
If you want to attract people to your brand, you’ll want to create engaging and innovative content. If someone has written it before, why should they come to you? Do some research on the topic to know what’s already out there and then use it to create your own dazzling content.
Who is it for?
Again, it may help you write if you have a specific audience in mind, rather than just a general ‘anyone who will read it, I guess’. Are you writing for a broad spectrum of people or a specific audience?
Coschedule, the marketing calendar app, recommend keeping one specific person in mind when writing, whether they are real or just someone you made up. Imagine having a conversation with this person about the topic you want to write about. What do they think about it? What do they want to know? Doing this may seem a little mad, but it’s an excellent prompt that will help ideas flow.
Why should I care?
This could be the most important question of all, except instead of asking yourself this question, imagine your reader asking this question. Internet users are notoriously fickle, and while you may get a decent click-through rate, if the quality of your content isn’t good, they won’t spend any real time on your website, meaning that you won’t have made any lasting impression on them.
Find a way of grabbing your reader and telling them outright why they should care. Will your writing change their life? Will it inform them about a certain topic? Keeping a goal in mind will help you on your way whilst staying on the right path.
How can I be helpful?
People are always looking for advice, and one of the first places they turn to is search engines. According to Google’s Year in Search 2017, more than ever people are asking ‘how?’: how to make slime, how to buy bitcoin, how to help victims of the Las Vegas shooting. Your audience wants to learn—can you help them? Try stripping your work back to basics and approaching things from the perspective of a beginner. This will help you in search engine rankings, as well as giving you a topic you know how to write about!
Is it relevant NOW?
The best writers are always great at reading. Reading the news, in particular, can provide a great boost to your writing—by basing your content on relevant, topical stories, you can craft a good piece.
Google Trends in particular can be a very useful resource—it will tell you what stories are trending at the moment and you can look through them very quickly to find something relevant to you.
Last December, a blog called Moz did this incredibly well. In the UK, the high-end retail chain, John Lewis, released their famous Christmas ad about a monster named ‘Moz’. While this could have been a brand crisis for the blog, they not only managed to avoid a huge dip in their readership, but also wrote an interesting and relevant post about it: Moz the Monster: Anatomy of an (Averted) Brand Crisis.
By asking yourself all of these questions, you can help yourself out of your writer’s block. These questions are designed to not only focus you on the task at hand, but also help craft a good piece of work. If all else fails, you can take that walk to clear your head—just make sure you get back to writing soon!
Victoria Greene is a digital consultant and freelance writer. On her blog, VictoriaEcommerce, she shares tips on various digital strategies, including affiliate marketing. Love to learn from the experts — the only way to make it to the top fast!