|I ♥ My Blog: Finding Inspiration for Your Blog Posts|
Truth #1: Both of these concerns are “valid”
As bloggers we are in the precarious position of having to produce worthwhile content regularly. So, naturally, it is a valid concern to think about the nature of the ideas and posts you come up with; it is only logical to be concerned about that constant “What comes next?” question. It’s also logical to say that if you can find twenty other posts about a certain topic, your post might be “less than novel.” The question is, what can you do about it? My simple answer is: Consider Truth #2.
Truth #2: Neither of these concerns are “valid”
How can something be both valid and invalid? Easy. You have valid concerns about your blog and the content you want to share. But just because you raise valid points doesn’t mean they are valid problems! That is, despite the fact that these are logical concerns, they should by no means keep you from generating good content. Let’s face it: a lot of what’s out there has been written, in some form or another, before! That’s no excuse not to say it again with your own “angle.” That’s called, in academia, subject dialogue. You’re joining the conversation and adding your own voice.
What does that mean?
These two truths mean a few things. First, it means that you don’t have to worry about making every post the first post on the topic ever written. Second, it means that when you’re running out of ideas you can use other people and blogs as sources of inspiration. Third, it means that when it comes to generating ideas and inspiration for your blog posts … the doorways are virtually limitless!
Where can I turn?
So, where should you go—which door should you take—to find inspiration for your blog? Here are a few possibilities:
Door #1: Other Bloggers. We all have favorite blogs we turn to for advice, ideas, or just because we like what the blogger has to say. Or maybe you have a blog roll of fellow writers. Take a day, or an afternoon, or an hour, to catch up with your reading. Stop by these blogs and read some of the most recent posts. Whether you leave a comment or not (and I always recommend you at least try to do so), the posts you read are bound to eventually inspire some new thoughts on topics that are important to you. Jot those thoughts down, and use them to inspire your own blog posts later. (Bonus: You can always link back to the posts that inspired you in the first place, to make it even more of a dialogue!)
Door #2: The Birds. Head to Twitter! Hashtags (those words or phrases preceded by a pound sign; i.e. #poetry) are a great way to check the “pulse” of current conversations related to topics you’re interested in. Whether you actively use Twitter or not, you can still follow a conversation to generate ideas.
Door #3: Quora. Quora is a site that describes itself as a place that “connects you to everything you want to know.” But, more than this, it also connects you to everything anybody else wants to know. Through Quora you can find thousands—I mean it, thousands—of questions people want answered about the topics you’re interested in! Simply log in (or create an account), search for a term (in my case, I might just search “Poetry” or “Writing”), and see what questions come up. If you have answers to any of them, guess what? You’ve got a blog post … and it’s something folks out there are actually actively searching for answers to! If you don’t have an answer, guess what? You’ve still got a blog post, only now instead of giving an answer you’re contributing to the unfolding of the question. In either case, you’ve given yourself a door full of doors to potential posts.
Door #4: Your Brain. Seriously. You’re a writer. That, by definition, means your brain is practically overflowing with ideas all the time. What are your passions? What are your questions? Who inspires you? What are you working on? What interesting or funny or miserable but meaningful thing happened to you recently? One thing to keep in mind is that not every post has to be about your primary topic; not all of my posts are about poetry or writing. The key is to find ways to make the puzzle pieces of your life fit what you’re trying to do. And remember, a part of what you’re trying to do, no matter what kind of blog you’re writing, is share your life as a writer, which can (and should) include things you do when you’re not writing.
Door #5: The Past. As I said, rarely is anything that you’ll write on your blog the first time anything like it has been written before. If there’s a topic that you really want to write about, write about it. If a favorite blogger wrote a post on editing manuscripts two years ago, add your voice to the conversation with an updated look at how to edit a manuscript and challenges you face with your own. If a friend wrote a review of a book, and you read it as a result, share your own review. If you wrote a post in the past that could use updating, update it. If you wrote a post in the past that got a major response, see what new direction you can take that topic in and write a sequel!
Your task for today is to think about where you turn when you need new ideas for blog posts, or writing in general. While you're thinking, consider jotting down some ideas for future blog posts and plugging them into your Editorial Calendar. Share your favorite resources or tips in the comments below!
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