How to avoid blank page syndrome

I spent a great time last week with an associate making three short videos about creating quality content for posts on Facebook Pages.

Trudy Ritsema’s online course Get the most out of Facebook for your Business runs throughout June and in the videos I discuss the different approaches to creating engaging information. I featured some aspects in the post 5 ways to keep your blog posts and social media updates engaging and inspiring, providing useful tools to help generate ideas. Ideas are one thing but how do you create quality posts on a consistent basis?

Enter Heidi Cohen, from the Actionable Marketing Guide, who’s presentation at this year’s Social Media Marketing Expo focused on generating quality ideas to fuel consistent content creation. What can you do to avoid staring at a blank page particularly if you’re up against a deadline?

Like many things in life Heidi believes in the power of practice, training your muscles to do something every day so the work becomes easier and you become better at it. So, just like practicing scales to become a more proficient piano player or practicing penalty shoot outs so you can progress to the final stages of the World Cup (how about it England?), writing is just the same. When it comes to writing, whether it’s non-fiction or fiction, it’s about showing up to your computer or notebook day in, day out and getting down to it. Perseverance is the name of the game.

person playing piano

Getting into a new habit takes practice, just like learning scales on the piano

Heidi has a number of ideas to help on idea generation, using the anachronism BRAVO:

Brainstorm ideas on your own, best undertaken first thing in the morning, according to Heidi, aiming to build this into a daily habit. I’d suggest setting a timer for about 20 minutes, that provides enough thinking time but doesn’t eat too much into a busy work schedule. ‘If you can generate 10 new ideas every day, by the end of the week you can have 50 potential topics to write about,’ she says. Capture the ideas on a spreadsheet where you will be able to add ideas and notes to them later on.

Rest the ideas for about a week, meanwhile still generating new ideas every day.

Assess and select your best ideas. Of the 50 or so topics you’ve thought of most won’t be viable and some may be better to look at, at a later date or need further thought. I’d put these onto another spreadsheet so you are clear on the ideas you will work on first.

man looking at board of ideas

Take time every day to brainstorm ideas on your own

 Photo by Startup Stock Photos from Pexels

Vet and qualify your ideas and link them to the different keywords you use. How do these ideas fit in with the rest of the content you are creating and the messages you are promoting? Test the ideas with colleagues or customers if you are in a position to do so. That way you know you will be addressing an issue that concerns them and providing a solution to one of their problems. You can also test the idea through social media channels through groups or identifying recurring topics of interest.

Outline the content. Once you have decided on the topic write some bullet points focusing on what to include in the article. Think about the potential headline to hook reader’s interest, the introductory paragraph, 3-10 points you’ll make within the post around the single subject matter, conclusion and the call to action. I’d check out some images or graphics too so when you sit down to write the article it should all come together with relative ease.

Creating a daily writing habit that incorporates the generation of ideas, testing them and outlining content should help towards never having to face that dreaded blank page. It also helps when developing your editorial content calendar and when you come to look at the next three-month’s worth of articles it won’t be an overwhelming job.

If it’s something you struggle with why not give it a go? I’m going to spend the next month generating ideas every day – why not join me on the journey?


I had a virtual ticket to this year’s Social Media Marketing Expo that takes place in San Diego each year. Over future weeks I’ll be providing information across a broad section of topics, looking at different social media channels as well as blogging, podcasting and content marketing.


1 Comment

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One response to “How to avoid blank page syndrome

  1. Pingback: 8 more tips on generating ideas for articles |

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