Tag Archives: ideas

How to create a treasure trove of blog post ideas {#Bloggiesta challenge}

It’s Bloggiesta time again, and here’s my challenge to you: Create your own treasure trove of blog post ideas!

Why create a stash of blog post ideas?

Back in December, I embarked on 365 Days of Blogging, and to help prepare myself for a year of daily blogging, I spent some time in November creating a blog post ideas stash.

Since then, I’ve dipped into my stash occasionally, and I also spend some time every week adding new blog post ideas to it. Now that I’m into the daily blogging habit, I do find it’s not as much of a problem coming up with a blog post idea as it used to be when I was blogging more sporadically, but there have definitely been some days when the idea well has run dry and I’m so glad I have my ideas stash to dive into!

“But I can barely think of one idea, let alone a whole treasure trove of them!”

You can trust me on this one: once you get your idea wheels turning, it becomes easier and easier. You start looking at everything with new eyes—and you’ll find blog post ideas lurking in all corners of your life. Really, you will!

But getting started is probably the hardest part. So here are a few idea jumpstarting methods to get you started.

Brainstorming

Sit down with a blank piece of paper and jot down every single blog post idea that comes to your mind. The important thing is not to judge any of it. If you’re thinking to yourself, “I like oranges … maybe I could write a post about how much I like oranges …” put it on the list! With the brainstorming method, the point isn’t to have every idea you come up with be a really really good blog post idea. What you want is to generate a creative flow of ideas, and the way to get that is through quantity.

Once you’ve got a good list going, you can put your judgment cap back on. Sort through the ideas, and transfer the good ideas to your blog post ideas stash (this can be an electronic document or a notebook—digital or analog, use whatever works for you.)

Here are some of the ideas from my blog post ideas stash that I came up with while brainstorming:

Yet Another Time Suck (about the Facebook groups app. Which I spend way too much time on!)

The Benefit of Having Book Goals (about how having a book goal has reduced the number of books I DNF)

One important tip: Be sure to include a description of what your idea means to you. I have this jotted down in my notebook: Road to productivity: the envelope. And I have NO clue what I meant by this!

Other Headlines and Post Titles

Do you keep track of your favourite blogs on Feedly or Bloglovin or something similar? Open up your feed reader of choice and start scanning all the post titles. Or pop onto Twitter or Facebook and see what headlines and post titles catch your eye. It doesn’t even have to be an article you want to read—you’re mainly looking for interesting words or topics, or interesting types of posts. And, for you book bloggers out there, it doesn’t have to be a book-related article or post. In fact, this works really well with headlines and post titles that aren’t book-related.

Now for the fun part! Go through each headline or title on your list, and try to rework it into a post you’d like to write. Use each headline or title as a starting point, and see where it takes you. The goal with this exercise isn’t to come up with a similar idea—it’s about using an existing headline or title as a jumping off point to come up with your own idea.

Here’s an example. Opening up my Feedly just now, I came across this post from Brit & Co: Disney Princess Weddings IRL: 14 Cinderella-Inspired Ideas. Now, I’m not a particularly romantic kind of person, but I have a soft spot for Cinderella stories. So working off this title, I might add the following ideas to my blog posts notebook:

7 Books I Love That Have a Cinderella Theme

It’s About the Underdog! Why I Love Cinderella Stories So Much

If I was a romance reader, I might jot down 5 Great Wedding Scenes I’ve Read, or something like that. These are just off the top of my head, but you get the idea.

Write About/Respond to Another Article or Post

I use this method to add to my blog posts ideas stash all the time. I’ll come across an article or post about a subject that I’d like to write about or respond to, and I’ll add it to my ideas stash. In some cases, I’ll accumulate a set of links about one particular topic, and I’ll use those as the basis for a blog post.

For example, I had jotted down these two links in my ideas stash:

On marginalia http://www.farnamstreetblog.com/2015/01/marginalia/

More on marginalia http://www.nybooks.com/blogs/nyrblog/2014/dec/03/weapon-for-readers/?insrc=rel

I ended up using these links, plus a few more I found once I started writing, to write this post on marginalia.

Use a Blog Topics Generator

Here’s a fun one! Try out this blog topic generator at Hubspot. I entered “books”, “Cinderella” and “oranges” and got this:

Blog post ideas generator

The Prizes

One winner will receive his or her choice of any one 5X7 Art Card from my friend Judy Clement Wall’s Etsy store. Here are some samples of Judy’s Art Cards:

The Road is Life Judy Clement Wall

Brazenly Beautiful Judy Clement Wall

Another two winners will receive prize packages of five books/reading-related postcards, selected randomly from my postcard collection.

So, Are YOU Ready to Take This Challenge?

Here’s what you need to do. Come up with at last twelve new blog post ideas to start off your ideas stash. Once you’ve done this, write a post about your idea-generating experiences—talk about anything you like, such as how you came up with your ideas, what you’re using to keep track of your ideas, if you think this is something you’re going to keep doing. Maybe even share some of the ideas you’ve come up with, if you’d like! To be entered into the draw for the prizes, come back to this post and comment with a link to your post.

I will put the names of all participants into a hat and draw the three winners on March 30  on April 2 so you have until April 1 to post your links to enter the giveaway (I’m extending the time to compensate for my site being down for much of Saturday evening) – I’ll contact winners for their addresses via the email address they use in the comment form.

Have fun, everyone!

The “I Want To Do It All” Syndrome

Last night I finished up a work deadline with a huge sigh of relief and anticipation – relief, because I’ve been busier than normal for this time of year this past month and anticipation because my next deadline isn’t until May (celebration time!).

But this morning I found myself doing some navel-gazing. Found lots of fluff, so to speak. The one big thing that’s been on my mind is this:

Why am I always bursting with ideas but never DOING much of anything with them?

You see, this is what my brain looks like every single second of the day:

A jumble of thoughts

That’s just each second. Imagine all those thoughts wiped out and replaced by an entire slew of new ones, and you’ll have a good idea of my thought stream throughout the day. (The image of my brain drunk on ideas is courtesy of doodling on the awesome, free Paper by Fifty Three  iPad app, by the way.)

I love coming up with ideas. I love playing with ideas, growing them, becoming very excited by them.

But the problem is, you wouldn’t know this to look at DONE side of my to-do/to-try list.

I get awfully mired in “non-doing”.

This is a serious, cyclical problem for me. I have a slow season every year work-wise (you’re looking at it right now) and really, that should be the perfect time for me to make all my ideas come alive. There are books to be written, posts to be blogged, artsy stuff to try out, new skills to be learned, blogs to be created, social media sites to investigate, apps to test out, information to be learned.

Why am I not doing any of these things?

So I was doing some serious soul searching this morning.

And then the answer came to me.

I’m getting overwhelmed with my ideas.

It happens all the time with my writing. I’ll be in the middle of a great story, when out of the blue, a character for another different, great story will come to me. And suddenly I’m torn.

Which do I work on now?

It’s clear to me now that I do this with everything, not just my writing. My enthusiasm for a new idea knows no bounds, but when you multiply that by ten or a hundred (usually a hundred), It’s like I suddenly run into a force field that reduces me to non-doingness. I’ll have a 101 things on my I-want-to-do list (this is all stuff I want to do, not things I’m trying to avoid doing) – and I’ll be at a total loss.

Basically, this is usually what I end up doing:

image

And, mind you, I think I do it awfully well.

Not that there’s anything wrong with Plants vs. Zombies. It’s my latest addiction and I find it to be a real stress reliever.

It’s just that I’m not really stressed these days. Except by the fact that I’m NOT DOING the things I want to do.

So yes, I have the “I Want To Do It All” syndrome. And it’s really bogging me down.

I’ve always found the best way to tackle problems is to just ask the Universe for an answer.

Universe? I’m asking! I’m even blogging about my asking! Please, send me an answer quickly. And if you could give me an answer that’s about a realistic way to actually do all the stuff I want to do, and not just tell me to pick one thing and stick to it until it’s done (aka “the stock answer”), that would be really fabulous …

Do you suffer from the “I Want To Do It All” syndrome too? Have you got any advice on how to cope?

April Sparks – Blogging From A to Z in April

As I had mentioned a few weeks ago, I’ve taken the plunge and signed up for the Blogging From A to Z April Challenge.

We’re nearing the middle of the month, so April will be here pretty soon. And I’ve been thinking a bit more about my posts for April.

So far, I’ve created my writing prompt cards – they’re all printed out, and I have about 2/3rds of them in sheets still, waiting for me to cut into the proper sized cards.

I’ve also created a whole bunch of “archetype” cards. They include not just archetypal characters, but also symbols and events.

I haven’t gotten very far with my Inspiration Deck (read: pictures) but I still have a couple of weeks to get together a nice stack of cards for this deck.

So now I’ve been thinking, what am I going to do with all of these cards and decks?

I’d written, in my last post about this challenge, “in April, I will do something creative for each day’s post, based on a prompt, some inspiration cards and the letter of the day.”

But I’ve been trying to refine what that “something creative” will be. And I think I know!

IDEAS!

Only, I’m not going to write down the ideas that come to me. Instead, I’ll write snippets of scenes, dialogues, characters and (fingers crossed) the occasional short story. (I say “fingers crossed” because, aside from the one I wrote back in January, I’ve not written a short story since before the kids were born. The oldest is now in university, so that tells you something, time-wise.)

I’m never one to be short on ideas, but I very rarely sit down and focus on creatively generating ideas. I really like the idea of deliberately being open to ideas in this way; it feels like a creative stretching exercise, the kind of thing I’ve been missing in my life.

Well, okay, what it really sounds like to me is: FUN!

And even more than that. Right now, I’m courting a new phase in my life: Trust the process. Learning to “trust the process” applies to every area of my life, but even more so in my writing. Blogging from A to Z in this way feels like a soft, gentle method of easing into that trust.

Focus, Focus, Focus

image It wasn’t until this weekend that I realized I’ve been journeying through my life these past few years without a whole lot of focus.

And one thing that can happen when you stop remembering the power of focus? You start living reactively.

That’s not what I’m wanting, that’s for sure.

So once again, changes are afoot. I’ve regained my focus, and I’m seeing the difference already. (It also could be spring. Spring affects me in very wonderful, mysterious ways.)

For one thing, when I wake up in the morning, I’m feeling very energized.

And the ideas! I’m never one to be without ideas in general, even when I forget myself, lose my focus and slip into gently reacting to everything. But now I’m just bustling with a ton of great ideas.

About work.

About my creativity.

About my writing.

About play and fun.

About my relationships.

About life in general, really. And it’s been a whole lot of fun. The only downside is that I have had to add a meditative half hour to my nightly routine, because when I go to bed filled with ideas, it is simply too hard to fall asleep!

So over the next few weeks, I’m going to be playing around with all these new ideas, getting clear about what it is that I want to do, and being open to inspired action.

And all it took was a little focus! And the first breezes of spring.

What about you? Have you been feeling like you’ve been emerging from the doldrums too? Do you see focus as a powerful life-changing tool?

Photo credit: US Fish and Wildlife Service

On Writing: An Idea Notebook?

Today’s word count: 2269

NANTUCKET word count to date: 38,085

HARPER word count to date: 2,128

I have never been one to have a shortage of ideas, but I’ve also never developed a habit of writing down all the ideas I get. As some of you know, I stopped writing fiction for a long time before recently starting to write again; during those years, I have had several “big” ideas occur to me, and I’ve kept them all in my head, adding bits and pieces to them during frequent bouts of daydreaming.

I’ve always figured this was the best way to do things. I still have some nicely developed ideas running around in my head that first came to me years ago. But now I’m wondering if maybe I should start putting my ideas down on paper after all. Start up an idea notebook.

The reason for this shift in thinking? I’ve been getting a little tired of scrolling back over earlier parts of my manuscript to find some minor character’s name, or the name of a business I’d use somewhere along the line. So yesterday I grabbed a notebook that was lying around, in order to jot down the names of some of the secondary characters I was intending to write about.

I flipped open the notebook I’d grabbed, and this is what I found, written in my own hand:

Bits and Pieces.

From dream:

– a witch, a demon, a black shark helicopter*

– group of girls who can’t let others know that they know

– the witch & demon are opposites. Witch has same powers, only for good.

– the guy, standing outside the glass doors, raising magic to spy. Magic leaves green trace that takes a few seconds to dissipate. Bad guy shows up, good guy switches magic off but too late, leaves signs.

– twin super skiers** are on the good guy’s side. They glow when they ski.

– the one girl must be able to do what she needs to do under all their noses.

– it is a race against time ***

*don’t ask. But it sounds kind of interesting, doesn’t it?

**I don’t have a clue. But this is exactly what I had written down.

***aren’t they all?

This notebook was lying on top of a cabinet that I had cleared off just a few months ago. So it’s relatively new. Here’s the thing, though: Do I remember having this dream? No. Don’t even remember it after reading these notes. Do I remember writing down this dream? No. Not at all. I admit, it IS in my handwriting, so I must have written it down. Do I know what any of this means? No. Not at all. But there are some little things that I sort of like and wouldn’t mind using in a story somewhere (not the skiers, though – but don’t blame me. It was a dream, not me!)

Okay, so I know why this particular “idea”  didn’t make it to my list of “big” ideas that I carry around in my head. But on the other hand, it’s interesting in its own way. And it seems to me there are bits of it that might actually be usable.

So I’ve decided to try keeping an idea notebook. (Update: Yes, my dreams do tend to be like this, vivid with lots of action elements, like watching a movie, only often I’m in them. Sometimes, I ‘m not. Is it any surprise that I like to sleep?)

What about you? Do you store your ideas in a notebook? Are you organized about it, or is it just a journal filled with bits and pieces? If you do use one, have you found it to be useful?