I find myself with very little to say, today. I am supposed to be relaxing with my family, enjoying the cool rain of upstate New York, but instead I have stayed back from the annual trip to the pet store in order to get my bi-weekly blog up. I have not finished any books lately (though heaven knows I am reading enough), so I can’t write a review. I haven’t seen any author-related movies, or read any compelling articles. And I am saving my blog about WattPad for next week.
So, rather hypocritically, I am going to explore with you how to never run out of things to blog about. Well, at least how to create a safety net.
- Keep a notebook (or audio recorder or Notes app) with you at all times. Think like a blogger all day long–like you would if you were a reporter. Does the NPR story you are listening to trigger some passion in you and have something worthwhile for your blog? Jot it down! A conversation with a friend? Jot it down!
- I don’t know about all the blogging platforms, but with WordPress (and, at least as of a long time ago, Blogger), you can save drafts of posts long before you ever post them. Use this ability! They don’t really have to be much, just idea files, really. I have fifty-four drafts saved to The Starving Artist, which are no more than an indicative title (so I don’t have to open them to see what they are about) and (typically) a sentence or two to spark my ideas and passion when I return. Occasionally, I return to these ideas and still feel flat and daunted, which is why it’s also important to…
- Schedule posts. This is my big gun. Most of the time, when one of my posts goes live, it’s because I wrote it sometime in the last week and scheduled it for that moment. (For WordPress, that just means I hit the “Edit” button next to “Publish Immediately” and gave it a date and time. You can also accomplish this with Hootsuite.) I do this a lot for three reasons. One, I like to catch my enthusiasm for a certain post. If I am feeling it now, it will be much less painful to fly through the process than to tackle it when the fizzle has subsided. Not to mention, I will not have forgotten half of what I wanted to say. Two, I can’t just sit around the computer all day, every day. Blogging well takes time, and I prefer to do it regularly. Therefore, I have to schedule posts for the days when I know I will be gone or too busy, and especially for vacations. And three, I love to get ahead of myself with blogs. It feels so good to have a week or two of blogs already in the chamber. Just less stress, and less forcing it. But if I feel another blog, then I go ahead and write it anyway and get that one scheduled too.
- In general, you have to stay immersed in the topics that your blog is about. For me, that means reading writing and publishing industry magazines, reading the books on my TBR, watching movies and listening to broadcasts and news about writing and publishing, going to writing groups and readings, etc. Those things not only keep you able to blog intelligently, but also keep you thinking about those things. What goes in will come out.
- If you are the least bit creative, you could always try just sitting still (or laying down, if you won’t fall asleep) and thinking. Music may facilitate, or the silence, or the sounds of nature. If I need an idea, I usually take no more than ten minutes of pure brainstorming to come up with something decent. Of course, interacting with the internet, books, or writing prompts can help, but I, like many of you, can be too easily distracted by these things.
- Always, always, always keep saving as your write. There is very little that will squash your blogging-good-feelings more than to get all done and have it snatched from you by the laptop gods. It would not be overdoing it to save after every paragraph. In fact, whenever I write, I try to hit Ctrl+S whenever I pause.
Of course, all of these ideas work in similar ways with coming up with fiction to write about, as well. Stay mentally engaged, jot down notes, keep idea files, and spend time brainstorming. Or just write about the struggle. That usually works for me.