How to create original content for your blog: good writing practices
Reader Letter: Hi Trisha! I want to tell you that no matter how wonderful your blog is, it has just made a young Russian girl pretty miserable. Don’t get me wrong, your blog is so far the most amazing thing I’ve found online, it is an example of witty mind and passionate soul, it educates and inspires, but… Here comes my very subjective, personal “but”. I was researching travel blogs to understand what to do and what not, as I want to start my own travelling blog, I was searching for my niche, for something that will be different from what Internet already has, for some kind of my own “thing” that I can have if I am courageous enough to start posting. And then I read your blog. It took me down so hard. You are all I am but further on the road. We are so much alike (at least as see it judging by your posts) that I am no longer even thinking about having my own blog. Thoughts, ideas, style of writing that I want to reach someday, even destinations and countries visited, wow, that’s just impossible. I just came back home from an 8-month trip to South America, and in October I am leaving my country again, now for a longer period of time, that’s why I felt ready to write about what I experience on the road. That must sound really shitty, but your blog discouraged me so much from what I was hoping to start doing. I just realised that there is a better version of me out there, doing the same and better stuff. No, don’t tell me that I definitely have my own thing that distinguishes me radically from your way of writing a blog. That may be as well true, but it was hard enough for me to come to a decision to write a blog, and it will be almost impossible to do what I want to do knowing that you exist. You are outstanding, and I adore so much what you are doing, I agree with every each post of yours as if I was writing it myself. But I hate you at the same time for killing something very important to me. — Anonymous, Russia
Today, I woke up with a heavy heart. I have seen a lot of great bloggers out there in the same manner that I have also seen those who are running out of content ideas and are copying others work. I feel bad for these people because they have a lot of potentials and I know that they can do more. Due to lack of practice and hurrying to be on the ‘top,’ they lost themselves along the way.
The girl from Russia who wrote the letter above is not one of them. The moment I read her e-mail, I wanted to hug her. I wanted to explain to her there are no right and wrong thoughts and if she wanted to write the way I do, it will never happen. Why?
Writing is from the broth of our experiences. There will be some things that happened to her that didn’t happen to me, and that could be a good material for writing. Each of us are unique in our own ways and we have our own methods to share what we think — to express ourselves in our own writing style. Never will it happen that we will have the exact same material unless we copy/paste someone else’s work.
I have given a lot of writing tips in the blogging section of this blog but I feel like it’s not enough. I am not a writing expert yet but I want to affirm to myself that one day, I will be. However, I am very much aware that nobody will write perfectly. Even the greatest writers learned it the hard way. It took them years to improve their writing and they still think it’s not perfect.
With this, here are some additional writing practices I want to share with you. This is more useful when you are running out of blog ideas — when you feel like your mind is blank.
1. Accept that writing is a process.
Not only in writing but in everyday life. Humans are not fit to undergo process. We are always looking at the end product. When I first started writing, I always wanted my writing to be flawless thinking maybe some big publishers will eye my work. I even thought of this without starting to write! It’s ridiculous how we want to sit down, face our computer, stare at a blank page and instead of writing, we always think of “what will happen when this gets published? I love my idea and I think everyone will like it, too. It will go viral.”
These are good and beautiful ambitions but we should focus on the now. It’s good to have a goal but wanting to be blown away with your writing will make you lose focus. Your writing will lack flavour — like those large fries without salt. It will feel incomplete even if you think you’ve already completed it.
Every time your mind goes ‘fast forward,’ say this to yourself: “It’s a process and I must accept that it really is a process.” Repeat the word ‘process’ in your head and you will understand what I am talking about. It’s a process.
2. Develop a writing routine/habit.
“But I am not like you, Trisha. I have a 9-5 job and I am not a full time writer. In short, I don’t have the time.” says one of my clients in one of our sessions in my Travel Blogging Coaching. Who says you only have to write when you ‘have’ to? Don’t you know writing can also be your best friend?
After years of traveling the world, I got home last week and was shocked by my own culture. I’ve changed a lot that I don’t know how to adjust in my own home nor did I know how to be around old friends. I was really frustrated but writing helped me through. I put my rage in 5 pages of my journal instead of steaming the drama and throwing my rants to other people. I drastically wrote all the frustrations, all the fear and the negative energies in my journal. And it worked. Writing is therapeutic so do not think that you only need to write whenever you need it for your blog. You can write anytime of the day tackling the wide variety of subjects running at the back of your head.
Here are my everyday writing routines:
A. The moment you wake up, write right away. Notice that every morning, you have too many things running in your head? Write that down. It doesn’t need to have one theme. Write longhand and just blurt what you are thinking.
“I am hungry. But I need to finish that article for BuzzFeed. Wait, my friends are coming over today. Ahhh, I have visitors again. What time do I need to call my Sam (my French bestfriend)? Fck, it’s fcking 3am in France. He might be drunk. My nails are so filthy.”
Above is a sample of my morning writings. You see, they are not in line with each other but I am just throwing what I think on my pages. This practice made me write complete thoughts and ideas when composing my articles.
B. Make a list. Remember those listicles you always read on the internet? Those come from practice (a process) as well. When I am really upset, I write 100 things that makes me happy. Not only that it makes you feel good and appreciate what I have but it also helps me express in full sentences (like the morning writing). You don’t notice this but writing sentences in full is really difficult most especially when you find yourself on a dead end. Most of the time, we know how to say it but it’s challenging for us to put it into writing.
- I am alive and I am very thankful for that.
- It makes me happy that I am able to see my mother everyday. I missed her so much.
- Music makes me happy. Most especially the Spanish songs. They give me so much joy!
- Seeing a lot of books together makes me happy. I don’t know why but when they are piled together, I cannot help but smile.
- Being able to write with a gorgeous view everyday makes me happy. My parents house, this house I grew up in is the only thing that doesn’t feel strange.
Above are some of the things that make me happy. Do something like this until you reach 50 (or even 100!) You will see how it will make a difference on how you feel and how you write.
C. Learn when to walk away. The bad thing about most young writers is that they treat writing as an obligation. They sit in front of the computer for hours thinking “I have a deadline. I need to finish this.” In the end, there will be no product and the ‘deadline’ have passed. When you feel like you can’t even write an opening sentence for your article, walk away from the table. Go outside. Take a 1 mile walk and appreciate the things around you. Do not spend the whole day in front of the computer because there are a lot of side activities (Facebook and all the social media there is) which are harmful to your creative process.
3. Do not copy other people’s work.
Well, it’s the first rule in every writer’s life and I am not sure why I even have to say this. When push comes to shove we think that we are already out of options so we tend to peek into other people’s blogs and say “what is he/she writing?” From there, you will find a lot of articles that relate to you and you will then think: “I can just write something like this. There are too many bloggers out there doing the same.” Much more that you have to be different. Much more that you need not be like the others.
When you feel like doing this, pat yourself on the back and say: “I am a big person. I am greater than this and I can write something beautiful in my own ways, from my own ideas.” Giving yourself the positive affirmation will life your spirit up instead of hurting yourself with the negative remarks. Never ever doubt your writing because you are already amazing as you are. You will create original content and who knows, it might go viral!
On another note: you also shouldn’t compare your work to others. Remember that no one has the exact same life as you. Write ABOUT YOU. Focus.
4. Please yourself.
We’ve already said “be yourself” shitloads of times — so much that it loses its real meaning. Try to say “be yourself” to yourself. Does it still have an effect? It went away right? The sentence is too overused that we can’t decipher what it really means anymore. So now, I am telling you, “please yourself.” If you feel good about what you are about to write, do it and if you feel happier with the product, publish it. There are no right and wrong thoughts. Self expression is what makes a good article double awesome. Develop yourself by pleasing yourself first. If you are happy with your writing, you will be unstoppable. Words and phrases will flood your ‘workspace.’
5. Lose yourself. Sing. Dance.
Today, I lost myself on Instagram stories (@psimonmyway). I felt really upset so I needed to dance. Your body is one of the tools which make your writing beautiful so treat it good by losing yourself. Do you sometimes feel you want to be a child again? I do. All the time. That’s why I sing and dance like a crazy person. The moment I arrived the Philippines, Latin music blared my parents’ home and I didn’t care even if the neighbours were complaining. You need to feel good about yourself most especially if you are keeping things inside. It’s blocking your creative process. Let it out. Sing. Dance. For 15 minutes, learn not to care.
Finally, to the Russian girl, I still think you should write. I still believe you can express yourself in the way only you know how. I am hopeful that one day, you will create original content and it will be really really beautiful.
Writers, what are some of your good writing practices?
I want to hear your thoughts! Leave your tips in the comment box below and help other writers make it!