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A few thoughts on blogging inspiration

Blogspire is a great suggestion tool - go sign up ;) - but when a topic doesn't come from within the process to coming up with a post is a lot more complicated. Even when the idea is yours, there is a lot that goes into coming up with a decent post.

Let me describe the two ways I write.

Meadow near Gard's Farm Taken from the bridlew...

"my" post

When writing in a creative flurry, everything is simple (this only happens when you have plenty of free time)

  1. Get idea
  2. Become antsy to write about it
  3. Keep thinking about the idea while working out, under the shower, during breakfast
  4. Jump into a text editor
  5. Write like a mad man
  6. Breathe
  7. Edit a bit (30% rewrite)
  8. Publish

That's it. Another post is born.

This type of post feels very good to write, gets something off my mind and occasionally reaches some level of popularity on the hackernewses and such out there.

Usually these posts are flops in the traditional sense. The only post of this sort that has ever reached popularity was Living life in 25 min increments.

"not my" post

More often than not, you can't write a post the moment you think of it. You're either too busy, the idea hasn't fully formed in your head, or it just isn't the right type of idea for a particular day.

Sunset behind the remaining three of Bristol's...

Sometimes the idea does come from outside - like when somebody from Zemanta comes up to me and goes "Hey, I think you should write about this. And if you could also make product X look good, that'd be great". Or sometimes it's a friend saying "Hey, I just launched this cool thing/solved this cool problem/did something awesome ... can you write about it?"

The idea goes on the whiteboard. Or in a moleskine. Anywhere.

Yesterday I wrote a post for Zemanta (to be published later today). Here's what the process looked like:

  1. "Hey, write about This Thing (tm)."
  2. Install product, promise to give it a try
  3. 3 days go by when I'm busy with other stuff
  4. "Hey, did you write anything yet? Just checking."
  5. Check out product, look at its homepage
  6. Go to bed thinking about the post
  7. Wake up, do an hour and a half_ _of research on an unknown problem domain
  8. Go to class
  9. Ruminate on the post all day
  10. Come up with a few key phrases and points to mention
  11. Start writing ... decide I still don't know what I'm writing about
  12. Jot down three main points, organize them in a flow
  13. Spend two hours writing a very crappy draft
  14. Watch an episode of futurama
  15. Rewrite the whole post in 20 minutes
  16. Congratulations, it is now 1:19am.

While yesterday was a particularly crappy because I haven't been getting enough off-time lately, that's pretty much what goes into writing the kind of post that reliably makes it to The Frontpage (tm).

Several rewrites from Wtf am I doing to Hey, I can publish this ... Each step also needs at least 20 minutes of slacking off before taking the next step.

But I think it's worth it.

Unfortunately, this is why the quality of my posts usually dips whenever a bunch of work is dumped in my lap. Double so if a deadline is attached to everything.

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Published on April 5th, 2012 in blog, Idea, Twitter, Uncategorized, Writing, Zemanta

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