As bloggers, we all occasionally run out of gas when it comes to new content. We’ve been writing about the same topic, some of us on a daily basis — how are we supposed to find something new to say?
The trick is in finding a new way to tell an old story — and when it comes to finding new ways to say the same things, I find it’s best to defer to the experts.
And by “the experts,” I mean “people who were insightful enough for their words to be quoted to this day.”
That’s right, you want to break out that dusty copy of Bartlett’s Familiar Quotations, people. Great quotations are the richest goldmine for blog post ideas you’ll ever have. (Wikiquote works just as well, but it’s hard to “break out” Wikiquotes unless you’re willing to sacrifice your computer screen to your cause.)
No, I haven’t gone all sensitive arteeste on you. You’re not looking for literary gems, you’re looking for a good practical technique to get that blog post written.
Allow me to demonstrate
Let’s say you want to write a blog post about, oh, success. Faulkner says:
Don’t bother just to be better than your contemporaries or predecessors. Try to be better than yourself.
What do you think about that? Can you create a blog post about success from that idea? Can you talk about how you’ve spent time trying to be better than this blogger or that blogger, but that you should really just try to be better than you were six months ago?
What about this one?
I couldn’t wait for success, so I went ahead without it.
~ Jonathan Winters
Agree or disagree, that’s a pretty profound idea. Keep moving forward even though you’re not a success? Does that mean you attain success only when you stop pursuing it? What does it mean?
Whatever pops to mind when you think of that quote, go write about it.
Great quotes will crush writer’s block no matter what the topic. Let’s say you blog about movies.
Photography is truth. The cinema is truth twenty-four times per second. ~ Jean-Luc Godard
If you can’t get a blog post out of that statement, refuting it or agreeing with it or just getting your own take on it, then something is seriously wrong.
Don’t limit yourself to quotes about your specific topic
If you write about blogging, for example, you’re not going to find a ton of quotes on that topic, for the simple reason that it hasn’t been around all that long.
That doesn’t mean quotes can’t help you burst through writer’s block, though. You just have to apply some universal concepts to your topic.
Try this as an exercise: Below are five quotes about topics general to the human experience. Whatever you blog about, no matter how obscure, see if you can’t apply at least one of those quotes and get a blog post out of it.
I bet you will. What’s more, I’ll bet you’ll be back to Wikiquote next week looking for new sources of inspiration. And you’ll find them, too. All those quotes were written down because the people who heard them knew they would continue to inspire thought, debate, and new wisdom for future generations.
Five to get you started
So here are your quotes. May you get at least three blog posts out of every one.
- The funniest things are the forbidden. ~ Mark Twain
- The freelance writer is a man who is paid per piece or per word or perhaps. ~ Robert Benchley
- Business, you know, may bring money, but friendship hardly ever does. ~ Jane Austen
- The cure for boredom is curiosity. There is no cure for curiosity. ~ Dorothy Parker
- Over the piano was printed a notice: Please do not shoot the pianist. He is doing his best. ~ Oscar Wilde
And to give your fellow bloggers even more to work with, how about sharing your most bloggable quotes with us in the comments?
About the Author: For more excellent cures for boredom, head on over to James Chartrand’s blog at Men with Pens, where no one shoots pianists but where everyone gets a shot at reaching better freelance success. Or, you can grab the RSS feed here.