As the first anniversary of pandemic lockdown and the end of our formerly unsanitized lives approaches, it’s tougher than ever to get inspired to create content.
We’re all just done, right?
If a scan of my social media feeds and recent anecdotal evidence from friends and colleagues can be trusted, then pretty much everyone is feeling dull, tired and more than a little blah.
It’s hard to be productive and creative in this uninspired state.
And yet, the content beast is hungry. It doesn’t care if your inspo’s running low. Yep, even in a pandemic, you still need to be creating content, writing posts, and sharing your brand story.
In fact, with in-person interaction is mostly absent the sales and marketing equation, content is more important AND more challenging than ever.
And the restrictions of social distancing are a double whammy for finding ideas. In the Before Times, when I felt stale, I had some reliable methods for getting unstuck: travel, parties, a night on the town, an afternoon at a gallery. All gone or seriously muted now.
But even in lockdown, even when you’re feeling dull or mentally blocked, there are sources of ideas. And believe me, you want to arrive at your desk WITH them—even in embryo form—rather than staring at a blank page hoping your muse pops by.
Here are a few ways I find ideas for my writing. They’re pretty painless, mostly just about paying more attention.
Daily Conversation as inspiration
Talking to people is my favourite way to get all fired up. Obviously, catching up with friends at a cafe or bar and even office banter isn’t really an option right now, but we’re still connected.
We still chat with our bubble people. We’re on video calls like never before. We might actually be talking more than we did before our COVID hermitage was imposed.
So, take the time to really listen. Keep your ears alert to stories and anecdotes in the flow of conversation. Spark interesting conversation by asking people about their last normal day before the pandemic, or what the weirdest part of this year has been for them. Or just make a little space to hear about what they’re working on, reading, struggling with, aiming for.
And then gather up all that raw content and take it back to your desk to cook up something new on the page. It doesn’t need to be an epic chapter. Small is good.
LOOK TO Traditional & Social Media
I know we’re all a little tired of the news, but there are more media options out there than just the same old newsreel. Check your social media for trending topics or turn to your favourite blogs as a jumping-off point.
Think of a fun TikTok that made you laugh or a personal story that moved you—these are fair game in the inspiration arena.
Take your starting point and get writing. What is your opinion on the latest trending topics? Is there something your favourite blogger wrote about recently that you disagree with? Did that TikTok remind you of a story you’ve never shared before?
We all need a little light and laughter. Don’t worry if it’s not all business. A bit of fun or emotion might be just what your audience needs.
Listen to Podcasts
Podcasts are a treasure trove of guest quotes and host opinions that you can use as source material for your writing.
You add value by including your expert perspective and personal thoughts. As an added bonus, you’re sharing the hard work of others, which just might net you some good karma or even a future spot on that very podcast. Strategic.
Dust Off Old Inspiration
Everyone once in a while, take a look back at what you’ve already written and posted. Sometimes all you need to spark ideas is to look at what you were creating when inspiration came easier. What are the highlights of your blog, captions and videos?
Check your analytics to see what performed well. Then update it with recent context and a fresh take.
DrAW FROM Lived experience
Admittedly, our worlds are small right now, often just the four walls of our homes. But that doesn’t stop life from ticking forward. Just as we’ve become better this year at paying attention to the little pleasures in life, you can bring that focus to finding ideas for your writing.
For me, that means seeing metaphors in family and domestic life, such as using sourdough or Lego or my terrible knitting to reflect on writing, creativity and storytelling.
Take a look at your life, the little details that keep you grounded as time slips by. What can you take from that and apply to your writing?
A mix of the above
Often, the best stories and content contain a nice melange of sources.
Writing is like quilting, to me: you’ve got all these scraps, these random squares that, together, make something cohesive, useful and even beautiful.
Remember: creativity isn’t about making something new from nothing. It’s about combining existing things in new ways.
If you’re feeling like you’re not sure where to start or how to get over the hurdle of sitting down to to write, you’re not alone. If all else fails, reach out. Come join me on Twitter or Instagram if you need someone to cheer you on and help you get started.