As writers and content marketers, we are expected to be a veritable fountain of unending creativity. Every second we are awake we are supposed to be pumping out ideas like they are going out of style. And we might wish that to be true, but fact of the matter is we tend to get more tapped out than anyone.
Writer’s block can hit whether you are a creative writer, or a technical one. Trying to come up with topics for a blog, as an example, can be really difficult. After all, you constantly have to come up with new ideas, or at least fresh takes on old ones. Not only are you doing that for your own content, but you are also competing with the millions of other bloggers out there, many who are writing about the same thing.
I have found one of the easiest ways to be inspired when I am in a dry spell is through questions. These marvelous little language nuggets can spark a whole symphony of new thoughts, concepts, and even other questions that can inspire you further.
Here are four awesome resources for you to turn to for questions that help inspire your writing.
Quora is a fantastic place to get inspiration for next to anything, especially blog writing.
It is an interesting mix of technical information, business information, and creative information. You can easily find advice on any topic, either through asking or just searching what is already there. One of my favorite ways to find inspiration is by following a category, and then checking daily for new questions. That way, I find questions I may have never considered myself.
There is an additional benefit of making connections, as well. You can answer questions, and establish yourself as an authority.
Further reading: Quora Community Rules: A Starter Guide for Joining the Conversation. Here’s also a great tutorial on how this Q/A content can be turned into a whitepaper.
Another effective way to find topical questions to get inspired is to monitor niche forums and question-and-answer sites: There’s lots of long-tail content inspiration there. Here are some of the highest-quality examples:
- Moz Q/A is an excellent example of an in-depth SEO discussion with very helpful answers
- MUO Q/A is an excellent resource for technology and gaming q/an inspiration
- Site Geek offers Q/A section for each hosting service that is listed there. There are lots of possible title ideas here!
This one doesn’t use questions in the way you might think. SerpStat is a search query tool that lets you find out how people are using popular (or unpopular, your choice) keywords around the web. It is great for data collection, especially as it gives you information in a way you might not expect.
It works by having you search for a single “base term” at a time. You can select a “questions only” tab that uses a separate algorithm that specifies interrogative questions. Then you can export your results so it can be saved.
I’ve been using Twitter for content inspiration for ages using this search operator:
[keyword ? -filter:links]
The beauty of this one is that:
- It filters all the tweets to those containing questions
- It filters out tweets with links (so you get to see only real unlinked conversations)
If the search query seems particularly satisfying, I’ll set up some tracking via Tweetdeck) and archiving (via Cyfe). In many cases, these Twitter feeds would not only inspire me but would also discover some relevant Twitter users and communities to connect to.
MyBlogU (Disclaimer: I am the founder) isn’t so much a question site, as it is a way of crowdsourcing content ideas. But it utilizes the brain power of many to come up with a single, shining idea to work off of.
To get people send you topical questions, all you need to do is to create a brainstorm request and ask people to send you the questions that interest them on the specified topic. The beauty of the platform is that everything being sent to you remains private, so the article gets partially written for you by your fellow MBU users. Here’s how MyBlogU improved my writing productivity!
On the other hand, you can also contribute to other requests, and will be cited by those who use your answers and quotes. So it is an effective authority and brand building tool too.
Further reading on SEJ: How to Build Relationships With Influencers Through Content
Questions are a fantastic way to inspire you to write. If you are tapped out, bored, or just want a little help to come up with subjects for the future, this could be the way to go.
Do you have any tips for finding inspiration to write? Share them in the comments below!
Featured Image: via Smart PhotoStock
All screenshots taken and modified by author November 2014