we’ve all been there, sitting in front of the computer, staring into the abyss and twiddling our thumbs until the screen saver kicks in and startles us back in consciousness. Some days it’s easy to write new blog posts and the ideas flow like a burst dam. Other days however you’d swear your brain had gone on vacation and not had the decency to leave a note. Writers block strikes us all at some point, but if you know how to deal with it you can soon get those fingers moving again. Some people go for a walk, some read a book, but I find Twitter a great source of inspiration if you use it in the right way. Here are my tips for getting the most from this monster social networking platform.
Ask Your Followers
It never seizes to amaze me just how friendly and helpful Twitter followers can be. Although it’s hard to believe sometimes, its human nature to want to help other, and for some reason on Twitter this seems to be even more true. When I am stuck for blog post ideas I often just ask for them from followers. For example, I might know I want to write about Google Android, but don’t know what angle to take. I’ll ask for help and within an hour I unusually have ten or more great post ideas. If you want this to work for you however, you need to respond to other people’s call for help as well when they need it. Twitter help is a two-way street and the more love you give, the more you will get back.
Use Hash Tag Search
Now that Twitter is absolutely colossal (around 105 million users in Mar 10 and 300,000 new users each day) there is certain to be someone talking about your topic of interest. Let’s say I wanted to delve into the topic of printer for example. I could go onto to Twitter and hash tag search something like “#printers” or “#printerink” and I’ll get something that looks like this:
Now there may be a bit of rubbish in there, but there will also likely be useful snippets, quotes, retweets, links to resources, images and more. The key to inspiration is exploration, and this is a great starting point to explore directions you may never have considered before. This is also a great way to find other people who are talking about what you’re interested in. You can follow them, they may follow you, and they may even be able to help you out in future when you appeal to your follows for help again.
Follow Someone New
This kind of follows on from the last point, but is really a little trick I use when all else fails in the inspiration department. When you have a built up a network on Twitter and have surrounded yourself with lots of other people talking about your topic of interest, I find things can get a little stagnant. The same things tend to get repeated and retweeted, and this can sometimes hinder your writers block rather than help. What I like to do is hash tag search a topic I’m looking into, and then follow a few random people who currently are not on my radar. Most often this leads me off on some wild tangent loosely connected with what I’m interested in, but you would be amazed how many ideas it throws up. I’ll give a great example of what I mean:
1.) I’m looking for ideas surrounding the latest WordPress plugins and instead of searching “#wordpressplugin” (too specific), I go for simply “#plugin”
2.) Along with the usual WordPress stuff, I find some guy talking about music and decide to follow him.
3.) I soon find out after a few tweets that he’s talking about pluginmusic.com, a site that profiles up and coming musician and bands
4.) This starts giving me loads of ideas for posts such as “What are The Best WordPress Plugins for Embedding Music?”, “How New Bands are Using WordPress to Showcase Their Work”, “Are There Any WordPress Plugins For Streaming New Music?” etc. In fact, as a result of all this inspiration I’m currently working on a post for one of my sites that combines all these ideas.
So there you have it, three easy ways to get the most out of Twitter when you’re stuck for inspiration. You need never be scared of your screen saver again!
This is a guest post by Duncan. Duncan is a keen blogger and tech enthusiast who runs his own surf clothing website. He lives by the motto – you get out of life what you put in! You too can write for us. Do read guest blogging guidelines.