How to write when you have no inspiration?

{this article has 428 words}

In the past, I was allocating some time to write, got a blank page, and wondered what to write about. Sometimes, after 20 minutes of wondering, I still didn’t know what to write about.

Imagine this : someone asks you to tell a joke, and you can’t remember any jokes at all. If that person asks you to tell 5 jokes, it’s even worse. If you didn’t remember one solitary joke, chances are almost none to remember 5 jokes.

What if that person asks you to write him a joke, in front of him? It’s the same thing. A blank page doesn’t provide inspiration.

What if that persons asks you to write him, by email, by tomorrow, a joke? That’s very easy: you search online for a joke, and send that joke to him. The simple solution is to search in a database of jokes, and to pick one.

It’s the same with inspiration : you need a database of ideas. This can be as simple as a text file, where you write your ideas as they come in to you. In the day you decide to write an article, you extract the most appealing idea from your ideas bank and write about it.

The simplest form of an idea is a question you know how to answer. For instance “How do I backup my digital files?” I know how to do this, as I do backups for myself. I also can explain the whole process, and I can tell you what can go wrong, what file format to chose for the archive and why, and so on. So, it’s enough to see this idea in my ideas bank to know what to write about. In this case, the inspiration is the question itself, for which I know the answer.

I created a file, called “IdeasBank.txt” and put there all my ideas. I can access that file with ib, which is similar to rx (more about rx you can find here:

Here’s the good news: as a writer, you first write, then show to others what you wrote. You never write an article, in real time, in front of others. So, when you write, you can always use your ideas bank for inspiration.

I usually get at least 5 new ideas a day. If I write 1 article a day, it means that I have guaranteed what to write, every day, for the rest of my life. Which means that I’ll never get again in the “no inspiration” zone.

Join's free newsletter.

How to write when you have no readers?

{this article has 489 words}

I read this question many times online, and I asked myself “what good is to write if no ones reads what I write?”.

When I publish something online, there is always one reader – me. I read everything when I write it and again before publishing. So, you see, I always have at least one reader. 1 divided by 0 is infinity. Which means that I have infinitely more readers than the persons who don’t write at all.

What does “reading” means? Reading a text means that the meaning of its words are transferred from the screen to the memory of a reader. Now, what if the reader is not human?

The second category of readers are the searching engine spiders. One plugin I use
informs the search engines that I wrote a new post, right after I hit the “publish” button.
The search engines spiders will read my words and place them in their memory. Having my words in the memory of the search engines is more important than having them read by one individual, who might not be interested at all in what I write, and got here by mistake. People can ask the search engines questions, and, in some cases, the search engines will answer with links to my site.

The third category of readers are the hackers. If a site is public, then sooner or later it would be accessed by some hackers. They might not comment and may try to stay invisible, but they’ll eventually come.

The fourth category of readers are the ones that I bring to the site, using advertising.

So, how to keep writing when no one is guaranteed to read what you write? Have you ever build a sand castle, even if were no guarantees someone will see it? And, worse, knowing for sure it will not last, as it would be washed away by the tide? What motivated you to spend time building that sand castle? And it was a castle, way more complicated than a 200+ words article.

I write articles for 2 reasons:
– for me, to remember how to do certain things, when I need to do them again in the future
(please pause for 1 second to either appreciate my honesty, or hate me for being selfish)
– for others, if they have the same questions as I did, hoping that what worked for me might help them answer their questions.
When you think of it, an issue is actually a question, for which you don’t have yet an answer. I prefer to think in questions, than to think in rants. An answer might solve that question, while the rant will just remind me of the problem, without actually solving it.

For me, those 2 reasons are enough. I take it back – the first reason is enough, and the second one is the bonus.

Join's free newsletter.

Have an easy-to-use digital placeholder for what you write

{this article has 313 words}

When I get an idea, I try to write it down as soon as possible. Otherwise, I’ll forget it very soon.

Where to write it down? On a placeholder. It can be a piece of paper, a computer file, a text message to myself or even an audio recording. I record it as audio if the idea is too long and I don’t have the necessary time to write.

Eventually, I convert paper and audio format to digital text files, because digital text files are very easy to search.

I keep all organized in one place. I can access very fast that place typing rx directly, when no window is selected. I use Windows 8. When no window is selected, I just see the Windows desktop. When I type rx, a background script, written in AHK, opens the folder that contains all the texts and links to the scanned paper versions and links to audio version of those I haven’t processed yet.

The AHK script for rx is quite simple:
Run "C:\AllMySearcheableTexts"

The benefits of having the rx command:
– it’s very short (only 2 letters – r and x), so it’s very fast to type
– I don’t have to remember the actual location of my files. That’s the job of the script.
– consistency. If, at some point, I decide to rename / move the actual folder, I just update it in the AHK file, reload the AHK file, and rx will point to the new location. So, I all I have to remember is rx.

Of course, you can use other name instead of rx. This is what works for me.

Why not creating a shortcut on the desktop for that folder? My desktop is completely empty, with a solid color – I like it that way.

Join's free newsletter.

What is the ID of an WordPress post?

When I create / edit a post, I want to know its internal ID, because when I use images I name them based on the post’s ID. For instance, this post has the ID 63, and the images I use for it will be called 63.1.png, 63.2.png etc.

When I edit an existing post, I can see its id as part of the URL, like in the picture below:

When I create a new post, the address bar doesn’t contain the post’s ID, as WordPress hasn’t assigned yet a number to that post.

To force WordPress to assign a post ID, I just press Enter key. In the image below you can see that the address bar contains now the post’s ID.

No matter how many times I edit a post or change its permalink, the posts’s internal ID stays the same.

Join's free newsletter.

Cookie Notice Plugin for WordPress

I use this free plugin:
to comply with the EU cookie law

Here’s an easy way to test it, after installing it and activating it.

I start an “New private window” in Mozilla Firefox (or “Incognito Window”) in Google Chrome, and I should see a notice at the bottom. If it works, it looks like this:

The new window needs to be incognito, because it’s possible that, in the regular window, you already agreed with the cookies, and the message is displayed only once. Using incognito mode, you force the notice to appear again.

Join's free newsletter.

How to install an plugin for WordPress via URL

I use this free plugin, called “Install via URL“.

Here’s how the “Add New” plugin section was looking before installing this plugin:

and after installing it:

For me, this is very convenient when I already have the URL of a plugin, and I don’t want to search that plugin in the WordPress plugins database. For instance, I find myself a plugin I like, I copy its URL, but I don’t want to ask my WordPress to search again for it, just to find out its name, based on its URL.

Exemple: the next plugin I want to install is this one:
(I got its URL by right-clicking on its “download” button, and copying its address).

After installing “Install via URL” plugin, I can now install the cookie plugin just by pasting its URL.

Join's free newsletter.