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Good morning, Reader,
Writer's block, believe it or not, happens to everyone.
Maybe you're trying to add a new post to your blog. Maybe it's for a client. Maybe you're just writing for fun. But for whatever reason, the words don't come out.
You sit at the blank page, trying to force your brain to come up with the sentences that make sense and move your story forward. But your brain isn't being a team player today.
You know what your problem is? It isn't a lack of ideas. It's too much freedom. This is why templates work so well to help cure writer's block. Instead of trying to pluck an idea out of thin air and develop it into a fully-fledged post, you can start armed with a framework that you can fill in.
Here are three templates you can borrow/steal/have for whenever those ideas just aren't flowing.
1. Problem, symptom, solution
This one's a favorite for pure simplicity.
Step 1: Pick a problem, any problem, that you've experienced in the last thirty days. It can be anything from your partner not paying you as much attention as you'd like, to being annoyed that there's nothing good on TV, to not being motivated to do exercise.
Step 2: Begin with a temporary title to get the momentum going. This title can be refined later. Do not overthink it at this stage: just a few words to describe your idea.
Step 3: Sketch a brief introduction by listing the problem, its symptoms, and the proposed solution.
Step 4: Expand on the introduction by detailing the problem, its manifestations, and the solution. This can be done by breaking down each point into sub-points.
Step 5: Summarize the main points of the article and emphasize the key takeaway for the readers.
Benefits of this blog template: Simple, straightforward, something any writer can use. This template acts as a scaffold around which your article can be built.
And here's an example of one I wrote with this template.
2. News -> Expert Reaction
Want something topical? Look no further than the newspaper.
Step 1: Scroll Twitter/the BBC/whatever your news source is until you find something you react to -- and crucially, something that you have a personal tie to. Not just a random news item that makes you mad. There has to be a reason you're writing the article. (This is the "expert" portion, though you don't need a degree or anything. Just some personal experience.)
For example, I read this article on Threads and remembered how I'd thought about joining, but decided against it.
Step 2: Briefly summarize the news item. This can be a simple intro. "I was reading the news when I noticed..."
Step 3: Describe your reaction. What did you do or not do? Is this a common reaction or not?
Step 4: Explain your reaction. Why do you think that? What would it take to change your mind?
Step 5: Give a rec. What should readers do? Why should they agree with you?
Benefits of this blog template: opinion pieces are almost always a little easier to write because you're fired up about them now.
And here's an example of an article where I used this template.
3. Answer the public
Sometimes, the easiest thing to write is an answer to a popular question.
Step 1: Go to answerthepublic.com and plug in a word or phrase that's been on your mind lately. Chocolate, cats, AI, Python. Pick your poison.
Step 2: Scroll down until you find a question you can answer.
Step 3: Find a target. Think of someone in your life who might ask you this question. Write your blog post as an answer you'd give to them.
Step 4: Tie up loose ends. Go to Google and type your question into the search bar. Scroll down until you find "People also ask." Include those as sections/FAQs in your article, and how you would answer those.
Benefits of this blog template: I am always more motivated to write when I'm solving a problem (or question) I know at least one person has. ATP is a great resource to keep that end reader in mind.
Here's an example of an article I wrote with this template.
Writing is fun but hard. I find that personally, sometimes some limitations in the form of a template or framework actually free me up to write more happily and more easily. Hopefully these are useful for you, too.
P.S. Here's a free bonus basic template you can use for literally any topic that you come up with. Thanks, ChatGPT!