One of the biggest challenges I constantly see for bloggers is the struggle of coming up with new ideas for content. In case you haven’t noticed by now, inspiration tends to show up in somewhat inconvenient places and at inconvenient times. That’s why it’s really important to develop some sort of writing/creation process that you can use on a regular basis. But let’s say you’re completely stuck. One thing you might have overlooked is your old content. Believe it or not, revisiting old content can lead to lots of new ideas.
Same post New Perspective
As a writer you are always evolving. You are always moving closer to having a voice that people recognize from a mile away. If you write a previous post for the second time it will be different because you’ve evolved as a writer. If you want to put this to work try the following:
- Find an old post
- Jot down the Title
- Put the title at the top of a blank page and write whatever comes to your mind. You’ll be surprised by how different it is than the first time you wrote it.
Use Your Spark File
In his article on Medium , Steven Johnson traces every single thing he’s created in the last few years to his spark file. Don’t be afraid of false starts and incomplete ideas. Often these are the seeds for some of your best work. But it’s only effective if you do it consistently.
I’ve been maintaining a single document where I keep all my hunches: ideas for articles, speeches, software features, startups, ways of framing a chapter I know I’m going to write, even whole books. I now keep it as a Google document so I can update it from wherever I happen to be. There’s no organizing principle to it, no taxonomy–just a chronological list of semi-random ideas that I’ve managed to capture before I forgot them. I call it the spark file. – Steven Johnson
However, It’s not enough to continually update the spark file. You must go back and review old ideas. Reviewing old ideas can make the dots connect in new ways.
Ideas That could Be Expanded upon
Chances are you’ve written plenty of articles where the ideas could be expanded. The easiest example of this is the list post. If there are 10 items on the list, each one is a potential blog post and an idea that could be expanded. This article was inspired by a conversation that I had almost 2 years ago with my friend Marcus Sheridan.
New People Reading
Another thing to consider when you revisit an old idea is that you have new readers. To many of them an old idea is new content because people rarely spend time digging through your archives. But make it a point to write from scratch. Don’t just republish something that you wrote in the past.
Develop a Practice of Mining your Archives Once a Week
When I get into my morning routine of writing 1000 words a day, I often get stuck. One of the things I’ll do to overcome this temporary writer’s block is to just read through things I’ve written in the past. When you do this you’ll find pieces of a puzzle that are meant to be put together. It’s one of the best ways to put all of the ideas mentioned above into practice.
The pressure to constantly come up with new ideas for content is often what causes most people to quit blogging. But by simply revisiting old content, you’ll be amazed how many new ideas you generate for blog posts, projects, and much more. Read old books, dig through your own archives, and give yourself an afternoon to dwell on your body of work. You’ll be surprised by the gems you discover.