How Cross-Dressing Makes You a
Better Blogger

image of boot and feather boa

If you’re anything like most bloggers, there comes a certain point when you simply run out of inspiration for your blog.

You’ve been writing blog posts about web design, or cooking, or whale-watching off the coast of Norway for way too long.

You’ve exhausted the topic, and yourself.

You just don’t know what to write anymore.

Not that you’re one to give up easily. You work on unblocking your creativity. You start going back over old topics, reworking them, trying to find new angles and new ways of talking about the same old thing.

We all know it. There’s nothing new under the sun. Every story in the world has been told a thousand times before you got to it. There’s nothing wrong with making what’s old new again.

Until the day that well runs dry too.

You’ve talked about everything you know how to talk about four times over, from every conceivable angle. You’ve reworked all the posts you can. You are done. Finished. Finito. Really freakin’ tired.

Time to hang up your blogging hat and become a Starbucks barista, right?

Wrong.

It’s time to start cross-dressing

Now, you may think this post comes from a man going through a mid-life crisis. You would be dead wrong. I am not advocating cross-dressing because I can’t think of anything more exciting to do with my Friday evening. I’m not even suggesting it because I have a secret curiosity about high-heeled shoes.

I’m suggesting it because it will make you a better blogger.

Let’s go back to those high-heeled shoes for a minute. Try walking a mile in them. (Ladies, go find yourselves some nice wing-tips and do the same.)

If you were a woman, or a man, whichever you currently aren’t, how would you write about your favorite topic?

Don’t get stereotypical here

I’m not suggesting that you’d suddenly start blogging with your pinky in the air (if you’re a guy) or with a beer at your elbow (if you’re a woman).

I’m offering the theory that maybe, just maybe, the opposite sex knows something you don’t.

The opposite sex knows how to revamp that topic you’re trying to write about.

A thousand relationship self-help books tell us that men and women think differently. Recent studies suggest a discovery that male and female brains aren’t even built the same. That’s a good thing when you’re stuck for blogging ideas, because thinking differently gives you insight into a new angle.

Try it for yourself

Go ahead. Pretend you’re the opposite sex. Toss around that topic of yours. How would you write it if you weren’t who you are?

If your imagination doesn’t stretch that far, talk to some members of the opposite sex. See what they’re interested in. See what they talk about.

Ask people of the opposite sex their opinion on your worn-out topic. “When you think of writing or marketing or design, what’s the first thing that crosses your mind?”

Don’t try to drive the conversation. Just listen. And for Pete’s sake, take notes. These people are giving you gold.

When the cross-dressing well runs dry, you can try this tactic in all sorts of ways.

Go talk to someone older or younger than you are. Go talk to someone who isn’t as cool as you are, or who is way cooler. Go talk to someone who has a completely different lifestyle, who lives in the city if you live in the country, who has more or less money than you do, who has a dog or a parakeet.

Long story short? When you run out of new ways to look at your world, go steal someone else’s eyes.

Don’t steal their shoes, though. Women hate that.

About the Author: James Chartrand is the man who embraces his feminine side over at Men with Pens (go figure). Check out his book, The Unlimited Freelancer. It’s your ticket to unleashing your freelance business.

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Comments

  1. Amazing theory, and very true and applicable. I have left updating my one of blogs due to the same reason, posting again and again about same topic, and thats why I have started a new blog covering broad areas like blogging, tech, tips etc.

    It is really easy for me to update my blog now. I can write on my blog anything which I like or abut which I want to write something.

    I will suggest to all new and existing bloggers to redesign the areas of your blog with many options. Sticking to one option is not suitable, particularly if you are the only one who writes on your blog.

    Cheers

  2. I know of a lot of pastors who are at this point.. although, if they followed this wholeheartedly, it’d most probably get them fired.. hahaha

    Nice article though – insightful and true (behind the dress-up) ;)

    Cam

  3. What a terrific idea! I promise to post a blog next week from the male point of view. It’s interesting that I’ve never thought to do that. I have a collection of daughters writing short memoir about mothers, and I’m now collecting the male voice on mothers, and I talk about the difference I see in their writing, but NEVER have I thought to blog about it. But that is a perfect thing to do.

    Thank you so much; you Copy Bloggers are so, so inspiring!

  4. Haha, this post was hilarious. But at the same time very inspiring. Very useful! You are right. Never thought of it this way. I regularly talk with my wife about my articles. She often comes up with other ideas, because she looks from a different perspective.

  5. You always make me laugh and scare me at the same time, James. What a great idea for the brave of heart! If a post appears on my blog called Horrormoans; life with teenagers and a menopausal wife I’ll give you credit!

  6. I can’t wait to go home and put on my husband’s underwear tonight. Maybe I’ll find inspiration! You are right on target. How do you think great novelists do it? Each character has a different perspective so you have to “wear their shoes” to be authentic.

  7. It’s always great to try look at things from someone else’s perspective. This feeling of rehashing the same old thing happens across the board in business all the time, not just blogging. Product designers are always looking outside of their industry for inspiration on where to take things next. My husband is a shoe designer and where does he go for inspiration? Car shows, toy shows, flea markets, museums, on and on…the key I think is to open your eyes and ears beyond your own head or the heads of the small circle of people within your “tribe.”

  8. @ Betsy – I’m very big on the philosophy of “walk a mile in their shoes” and have found it to be useful in all areas of business – and life, too!

    @ Janice – What?! Only for the brave of heart? Come come now, it isn’t that hard… what size shoe do you take? We’ll find you a lovely pair ;)

    @ Daan – I’m currently reading “Why She Buys”, and it’s very interesting for that different perspective. (I also slapped my forehead somewhere around page ten and thought, “Now why didn’t I see that before?! Sheesh!”)

    @ StoryWoman – Hey, you can even switch your nickname and be StoryMan for a day!

    @ Cameron – … pastors… mmm… not gonna touch that one ;)

    @ A – If I started a new blog each time I was stuck on what to write, there would probably be… well, a lot of James all around the blogosphere. (Not a bad thing, is that? Hm!)

  9. James,

    Hurry up and grap womenwithpens.com :)

    Good write. Reminds me of Mel Gibson dressing like a woman in What Women Want.

  10. Uh oh. The last time I wore a dress was 1998. Don’t tell me I’ll have to start acting like a girl!

    Note to the boys: high heels are mighty uncomfortable. But it’s still good writing advice. Hmm, maybe if you just wear them while you’re writing…

  11. When I read the headline, I was certain it was time to stop reading Copyblogger.. Then I realized it was you James, so I stopped worrying… JK.

    I really enjoyed the way you presented this idea. I love getting my wife involved with my blog once in a while to get different perspective and sometimes a reality check.

    It is amazing how looking at things from a different perspective can open up topics that seemed completely exhausted and closed. I’m glad I’m not to that point with my blog yet.

  12. @ Blake – I wrote to Sonia this morning and said I think I’m the only blogger out there who could write stuff like this on Copyblogger and get away with it, with flying colours. Too funny.

  13. Before I go out and spend money on a gorgeous new wardrobe, I ask my friends to critique my Tango posts. I ask dancers and non-dancers what they think to gauge the universal appeal of the audience.

    The reviewers are both men and women so I include their thoughts in my post for the final draft. At no point do I wear lipstick during this process :)

  14. What a cool concept. I have often wondered what women want and the Mel Gibson, Helen Hunt movie of the same name is one of my favorites of all time. Imagine if us men had the power to know what women were thinking at all times, what could we write about that would capture their attention? Mel found out the hard way and tried to take advantage of it. It wasn’t until he learned how to listen to women that he found out the true power of what women want. So I hereby pledge I will do more listening to my female readers and try and write more blog post with the thought of what they would do in the same situations.

    Again great post

    JB

    PS for those who have not seen the movie here is the link
    http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0207201/

  15. Bringing in guest bloggers might also be useful to keep things cookin’ and give a different perspective.

  16. Great article James,

    Maybe next time I’ll steal the perspective of a(n):

    – Wall street business executive
    – Amazonian medicine man
    – A Ninja
    – A Viking
    – A four-year old kid

    I could go on…but you get the idea.

    Excuse me while I try on some new clothes…

  17. @Blake, ha, that makes me laugh. I don’t think any of us would touch this one other than James!

  18. Love it.

    Not an easy thing to do, for sure (even for people who are in touch with both gender aspects of their personality), but I can definitely see how this would add a unique twist to just about any topic.

    May have to try this soon!

  19. Bravo!
    Probably the best advice for veteran bloggers.

  20. Very interesting, I actually am a cross-dresser and run one of the most popular cross-dressing blogs, called Jessica Who?

    Because of my disposition I frequently think from a more feminine perspective, I guess you could say I have the best of both genders.

  21. Darn it. You’re right. I’ve taken pride in my Man Cave approach to internet marketing but I have hit the wall as of late. I tried flirting with my feminine site – and

    Like I said. “Darn it” You’re right.

    Stan

  22. I actually really liked this post, though I wouldn’t have limited to just thinking like a woman, but all different types of people.

    Most blogs transform as their writers change, as they go from novices to experts, anaonymous to famous.

  23. An amusing idea. Cross-dressing is definitely thinking out of the box :) Trying to look through someone else’s eyes is a good idea in most areas of business and life. It gives you new insights and ideas that you typically wouldn’t have thought of.

  24. Haha! That’s a fresh twist indeed ;) What, creative block? That never happens to me .. lol j/k of course. Thanks for the tip, I always wondered what it would be like to be a man for a day! Tia @tiasparkles

  25. James,

    There’s no byline in my email, but as Sonia says, only you are so brave. I had to click through.

    I advocate this with clients all the time. Looking at your work from a very different perspective is tough if you’ve never tried, but so worth it. If you’ve ever written any fiction you’ve already done it on one level, just take that thinking into your blog-writing and see things with fresh eyes!

    Do tell… will you be writing your next CB post while wearing your new feather boa?

    Regards,

    Kelly

  26. This is a timely post for me to read as I’m working on creating a Men’s Life Link (men will write it, of course) with similar topics as womenslifelink.com.

    Thanks for your wisdom. I like the idea of getting into the heads of the opposite sex. Makes us better.

    Kellie

  27. Good luck at trying to write like us females, lads! That would mean you’d need to understand us. A tall order considering WE don’t understand us! ;)

  28. I think would be really, really hilarious if people here took your advice literally, like they seemed to do with my underpants guest post on MWP. Yeah, that was interesting.

    Great advice, James :)

  29. “If there is any one secret of success, it lies in the ability to get the other person’s point of view and see things from that person’s angle as well as from your own.” -Henry Ford

    Hey James,

    By seeing things from another person’s perspective, new ideas open up. The same topic has endless possibilities because you notice new things, different points of view, or fresh lessons from what seemed completely understood.

    Dig the head-scratching-but-oh-now-I-get-it headline for your great reminder of us needing to see things from another perspective,
    Oleg

  30. Brilliant! I suffer from the dreaded block all the time. I love this approach and will certainly try it.

  31. I’m totally into cross-dressing, well, the way you define it.

    My husband gets so frustrated with me because I’m always putting us or myself in odd situations. I accept invitations to parties where I have nothing in common with the group attending, I talk up people on the subway w/out a concern about our compatibility.

    I totally believe in looking at yourself and life from the other side.

    Yeah for this post!

  32. LOL I’m trying to write like a man, so far I have nothing (I’m thinking about women and soccer)… but I’ll try to write something serious soon.

  33. Very interesting notions… I’m having trouble finding time to write about everything I want! Over 100 drafts in queue, all of which could go 500, 1000 words, easy.

    I’ve actually started tossing stuff away as too distracting. Ok, I just push em back into a noteback, out of my working drafts queue.

  34. Excellent idea. Gabrielle Rico has a great book, WRITING THE NATURAL WAY, that offers other great creative writing ideas. I’ll bet it’s in your personal library!

  35. So, would “Men with Pens” become “Women with Swords”?

    ;-)

  36. @ Jodi – “The pen is mightier than the sw-….”

    Oh no way. No way I am going there. Nuh-uh. Nice try, though ;)

  37. Well, this works for me. :) I have a blog (two actually) where I blog about perimenopause. clearly a womans’ issue, right? Well, not totally. It affects men in a huge way and I’ve had an awfully lot of traffic lately from men to my blog looking for help with their perimenopause wives.

    It has inspired a whole host of new blog topics as I write to them and their experience with perimenopause. It’s been a fascinating left turn. :)

  38. Jodi’s wordplay is great LOL

  39. I guess I’m already at the pinnacle of bloghood. No place left for me to go. (;

  40. Heh Pace! We always knew it. :)

  41. Very refreshing. My blog topics are quite diversified. I find this to be a little easier than focusing on a niche. Thanks for echoing my way :D

  42. James you really deserve to have a pen. You make good use of it… :) I know almost every other person has said this, but I doubt whether I would have thought about this way. X dressing! Good one.

  43. Hmm, interesting, but my blog is almost new, and I really have a lot of thing to say… although I do talk about a topic I wrote above before.

    Franck
    the Body Guard marketer

  44. My gosh man. This post IS an example itself of someone who is burned out and is desperately trying “something new.” My hat comes off to you for taking a swing at least.

  45. @ Scott – Considering I’m neither burned out, desperate or swinging… I’m not sure why this comes off as an example of those – could you clarify? I’m interested in hearing your thoughts.

  46. That’s a great tip James, but I’m not sure if I can pull it off!

  47. @James, I’m just not convinced that what you are asking blog writers to do is possible. It’s almost cliche’ really. Men have been trying to understand a woman’s perspective and vice versa for millennia. And, if I’m being honest with you, I think your title is just this side of non-analogous. I am, however, a long term and consistent reader. This one caught me off guard. I guess that was the whole idea after all.

  48. Scott,

    It’s possible, or we’d never be able to have believable novels with characters of more than gender in them. Wouldn’t you agree?

    And I know plenty of non-fiction authors (including myself) who already use the technique to gain a fresh angle, also.

    Until later,

    Kelly

  49. I think doing things that are not typical like going a different way to work or working out in a different gym can add the needed enthusiasm back into you schedule. Cross dressing is taking it a little too far.

  50. Fantastic post…Chris Brogan had us changing three rituals/habits recently to help ignite a creative shift, and that was terrific too. Can’t wait to explain this new creativity tool to my husband :-).

  51. I love the idea. My wife and I write on the same blog since it is a mom and dad blog but I never thought about writing from a womens perspective. Considering I live with 2 women. My wife and my 13 yr old daughter I should be able to get alot of ideas from them. Thanks for the tip because this would have never crossed my mind.

  52. I like this post. That was the reason I deleted my first blog. I ran out of ideas. Thanks for the post.

  53. Great post that raises some interesting ideas. I had never thought about writing factually from another persons perception before. Of course creatively that is simple, but this is a really great idea for blogs, articles and much more. It’s definitely something I will be trying. Thanks James!