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It’s a horrible affliction.

You want to write. You NEED to write – your job depends on it. But you sit down ready to get the work done … and nothing happens.

Inspiration doesn’t strike and you don’t know what to write.

This is blank-page syndrome. The glaring white screen crushes you and forces you to back down. You’ll write tomorrow when you have a better, clearer idea. Maybe.

End This Madness!

I’ve committed to beating blank-page syndrome this year with a content idea diary.

Every weekday this year I’ll write down 10 ideas for blog posts, articles, or ebooks. There are no constraints as the objective is quantity over quality. When I need inspiration for something to write I’ll turn to my idea diary and pick over the ideas I’ve been steadily collecting.


Ain’t it a beauty?!

I’m hoping that this new habit will:

  • Establish momentum – It would be great if my mind gets better at conjuring up content ideas with this daily practice
  • Create an idea bank – when I’ve made time to sit down and write I’ll have a collection of thoughts I’d like to develop
  • Banish blank-page syndrome forever – it’s time to banish this terrible affliction. My idea diary is my vaccination.

Separating Out the Writing Workflow

I’ve written before about how I like to be very clear about what specific writing task I’m working on. I use a few different tools so that tasks are broken down into manageable chunks, which helps me stay focused on exactly what I’m supposed to be doing.

(You can see which tools I like to use here.)

To get my writing done I schedule time for mind-mapping, for first drafts, and for editing. The point of the idea diary is to add a new first step to my writing workflow. Now there’s a step before the mind-mapping that encourages me to be consistent in developing new ideas.

Every day I allocate time for ideas, mind-mapping, drafting, and editing. It doesn’t matter which project I’m working on, when my calendar tells me to, I switch software and work on another of these tasks. This keeps things fresh and moves projects down the production line. At deadline time things might get fuzzier, but on the whole this is how I work.

The Creativity Muscle


The idea diary concept comes from James Altucher. He suggests that creativity is like a muscle, and therefore needs to be exercised to avoid atrophy. You can rarely force yourself to be creative out of the blue, so you need to work at being creative in order to draw on your creativity when it’s required.

To become an ‘idea machine’ James says you should take a notebook, go to a coffee shop, and start making lists of ideas. If you come up with 10 a day, that’s 3650 a year, and – you’d hope – at least some of those will be good.

In my version of this deliberate daily practice I’ve chosen to focus on content ideas (rather than business ideas) because coming up with content ideas for my clients happens to be my job. A stronger creative muscle would be fantastic; it would make my job easier!

What is success?

I’m interested to see how this habit evolves. After 3 working days of 2016, so far so good. My concern is that I’ll end up repeating similar ideas again and again, but I won’t know if that’ll be the case until I try. At the very least I’m going to sit down and ‘be creative’ for 10 minutes each day. Surely that can only be a good thing.

I feel like I should plug my new business at this point 🙂 – If you’re struggling for ideas to write about on your blog then get in touch and we’ll work something out.

Best of luck meeting your own writing goals for 2016!


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