The Answer To Blogger Question #1...What The Hell Do I Write About?
Over the years, and there have been many of those, that I have been blogging, a lot of people have asked me how I decide what to write about.
There are two answers to that question. One is concrete, and the other is abstract.
The Concrete Decisions
Part of the reason I blog is to showcase my expertise in the area of communications.
I have several of different threads in the areas of A) Giving advice on how to put together good posts B) Debunking digital marketing bullshit (my personal favourite) C) Critiquing advertising–that which I think is either outstandingly bad or good, and D) Explaining and showing examples of how I solve communication challenges for myself and my clients.
On the opinion side I do a lot of commenting on politics, television, movies, books and social media. I do a lot of this on Facebook, because sometimes it can get pretty harsh, especially with the level of inhumanity being shown in the current US presidential race.
The Abstract Decisions
On the philosophical side, I like to write about writing, because I actually do all kinds of it, from feature length screenplays to lyrics to poetry to short essays on the nature of the things I believe.
Finally there is something I call the Free Form Stream. Here’s how it works:
There’s a period of time that happens in everybody’s lives, except of course for insomniacs, which is anywhere from 15 minutes to an hour in between the time you actually stop being asleep and admit that you are awake.
This is my favorite time of the day.You have all the relaxation benefits of being conked out, yet your brain is starting to rev up and cook up ideas based on a combination of the future ie, the day ahead, and the past, in my case reflecting on what I was dreaming about.
Today, for example, I woke up thinking about taking the car in to have the rear view mirror, which got smushed somewhere, replaced and the logistics of getting the car back in time for my wife to take it downtown to a lecture she’s going to at the Art Gallery this evening, how I squeeze in a meeting with my associate John McLachlan, and manage to get out of the house for two hours later in the afternoon so real estate people can show my house to clients, factoring in a strong possibility of rain at that time too.
On the other side of the coin there was the dream I had about being a doctor and delivering a baby for a mulatto woman whose husband was black, and then trying to figure out just how ‘black’ the baby actually was. We could not decide.
This was further complicated by the fact that I started to think about my kids, which eventually became the idea that I settled on. I have never written about them in any detail, and I think they would get a kick out of reading something like that.
I look at blogging as a weekly project comprised of an unspecified number of posts, hopefully one from each of the areas defined above.
But always with the proviso that if I get a really good free form idea, I can throw that in at any time.
This may sound like it’s riddled with logistics challenges, but I have been doing it for so long that it’s really more like second nature to me now.
Now I can just imagine someone in some other profession trying to get their heads around all of this and basically becoming discouraged rather quickly.
But just remember I am a professional writer, this is what I do all day.
And the beauty of blogging is that it’s the ultimate self-starter occupation. You create your own schedule. You create your own topic streams. You produce posts at your own pace. And most importantly, you learn as you go. The more you write the better you get at it.
But you are in complete control. The minute you start thinking this process is controlling you, you are doomed.
So my advice. Is take good care of your brain. Because if you want to be a good blogger the vast majority of what you need to do that is bouncing around in your head.
Advice In A Nutshell
1. Decide what you want to write about.
2. Break it down into its various aspects.
3. Read whatever you have to read to be able to write with some authority.
4. Write an article every day for a week and see how you feel about that pace. If it wears you out, cut it back to the point where you feel comfortable.
5. Think about and decide on content streams. Then fill in ideas for posts as they occur to you.
6. You now have the content ideas and the pacing, so just start writing and posting.
7. Study the comments you get. They will teach you a lot about yourself.
8. Repeat Steps 6 and 7. And again, till you figure out your ideal pacing. And away you go.
The golden rule to follow here is simple “Quantity is not quality and vice versa”. Just do the best job you can at the pace that works for you and you’ll be fine.
Part of my giving advice is being able to explain how a certain process works based on my own experience and hope that people can extrapolate enough from it to be able to use the advice productively.
The methodology I have delineated here is really only applicable to me. The idea is to take it and apart and put it together in a way that works for you.
PS: I’m going to take some time to write the piece about my kids and probably won’t post it until Friday.
As usual likes, comments and shares are always appreciated.
Other posts in this series can be found on my publisher page: https://www.bebee.com/@jim-murray
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