The Write Practice

The Online Writing Workbook

The Secret to Writing On Your Blog Every Day

I went to the AWP Writing conference in Chicago this week. Ten-thousand writers and editors gathered in the lobbies of two big hotels to talk about their craft. It was amazing and humbling and kind of overwhelming to be surrounded by so many people of our trade.

In conversations, sometimes this blog would come up. “How often do you blog?” these writers would ask.

“Every day,” I’d say, with the stiff upper lip required of such statements.

“Wow. I don’t know how you do it.” I usually tell them it’s like my second job, that if they treated blogging like their job, they could do it, too. However, some still aren’t satisfied.

“I would run out of ideas!” they say.

blog ideas

Photo by Bookeli

The Secret to Having Lots of Ideas for Your Blog

Not enough ideas.

Is this what’s keeping you from blogging every day or even every week?

I don’t blame you. I was worried about this, too. In fact, about a week after I started The Write Practice I nearly had a panic attack. I woke up in panic knowing I had to post a blog. What was I going to write about?!

I worried I couldn’t even do it for six months, that I would run out of ideas and that The Write Practice would be like all of those other failed blogs you see like ruined ships all over the internet.

Of course, with well over two hundred posts and almost eight months under our belt, we’re not dead yet, but that first moment of panic was a turning point for me. I knew I had to create some techniques for coming up with lots of ideas.

So how do you do it? How do you show up with something every day? And of course, this can be applied to anything, whether you’re writing short stories or poems or the pages of your novel.

Things That Didn’t Work

There are about 17,000 other blogs that talk about writing. I figured when I was short of ideas, I could just recycle their ideas. But that felt real sleazy. Also, I couldn’t find a way to make it my voice and not their voice. So I quickly abandoned that strategy.

Second, I tried to come up with a lot of posts all at once. I tried writing five or six posts in a day and storing them to post later. This strategy does work for some, but in the end, I need the discipline of writing every day. Only writing once a day doesn’t do it for me.

Reading books about writing did help. I would highlight interesting quotes, and then write posts like this responding to their thoughts. But I couldn’t do that every day.

The Secret

The secret is that there isn’t really a  secret. The thing that changed for me happened automatically. I knew I had to post and so my mind reacted on its own and started collecting ideas all the time. It evolved, in a way. In other words, by forcing myself to post every day, my mind had to change and start coming up with ideas on its own.

I decided I needed one good idea a day and my mind rose to the task.

It wasn’t easy. There were some painful transition moments. But now I can wake up in the morning without panic because I know I’ve got something.

The biggest change is that I started capturing ideas. I wrote quotes from famous authors in my journal, and when inspiration didn’t come, I flipped through the pages of my journal to find something to write about.

I call this “idea capture” and it’s very easy. Any time you have an idea, either for your novel or your blog, write it down in a place you can find it, like your journal, so you can come back to it later. This also works really well with quotes. If you read something that moves you, write it in your journal. I have pages and pages of this, and I use them all the time.

The most important part of discipline, though, is to make a commitment that you can’t not keep. If you do that, you’ll find a way to show up with fresh ideas, even if it’s painful.

How do you come up with ideas for your blog? What works and what doesn’t?

PRACTICE

No practice in the comments today. I want you to spend your time capturing new ideas for your blog.

First, open up your journal or a piece of paper and write at the top, “Blog Inspiration.” Carry your journal everywhere, today, and as you go through your day, think about what you can blog about. When something pops up (it will, I promise), write it in your journal.

Have fun!

If you’re interested in learning more about how to capture ideas and inspiration for your writing, you’ll want to stay tuned. In the next month or so we’re going to be releasing a resource about how to capture ideas in a whole new way and revolutionize your writing. We’re really excited!

About Joe Bunting

Joe Bunting is a writer and entrepreneur. He is the author of the #1 Amazon Bestseller Let's Write a Short Story! and the co-founder of Story Cartel. You can follow him on Twitter (@joebunting).

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  • http://www.atlumschema.com Andy Mort

    I like this. It’s a messy process. I often want nice clean cut answers to something like this, but you’re totally right. You’ve got to make a commitment and from that the posts will come. I use Evernote a lot for just jotting down ideas on the fly – inspiration hits in the most unexpected places but on the whole I will have my phone on me and then each day I will look on my computer after it has synced the updates and go through selecting ideas that might be worth using and throwing out the bad ones.

    I think you hit the nail on the head – it’s a case of forcing the discipline – ie I will write every single day no matter what. But then not forcing the ideas, ie putting structures and systems in place around you where you can capture the naturally occurring ideas that hit throughout the day. It is a subtle difference but with massively liberating consequences. It is damn hard to sit down at your computer with no ideas and try to force something to come, but if the ideas are already there it is a lot easier to force yourself to elaborate on one of them.

    • http://joebunting.com Joe Bunting

      YES! I totally agree, Andy.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=601449828 Chris Lautsbaugh

    Great post Joe

    • http://joebunting.com Joe Bunting

      Thanks Chris :)

  • Allie

    One good idea a day…and you’re not dead yet (sounds like a Monty Python set up). Joe, your blog is “good stuff”- thank you for sharing your thoughts & good ideas.

    • http://joebunting.com Joe Bunting

      Thanks Allie! You’re awesome :)

  • Michelle d Evans

    Great post, though you have t talked me into posting daily :) I usd to post often. And had ideas coming out my ears…I still have ideas but not the time.
    Xx

    • http://joebunting.com Joe Bunting

      I hear you. Time is always my problem rather than ideas. Thanks!

  • http://bikerider.Writing.Com/ Angelo Dalpiaz

    Even though I’ve been missing a lot lately, (kitchen remodeling isn’t only messy, it’s time consuming), but I do check in here everyday. I don’t know how you come up with all the ideas, but I’m glad you do.

    I don’t blog. I don’t know why, but I don’t.
    But I do write everyday. The method I use doesn’t always result in a new idea or even a new story, but often it does.

    If I don’t have a new idea for a story I simply review one I’ve already written. At the end of the story I write a sentence. Anything, as long as it can be part of the story. I’m always amazed at how that one sentence turns into a paragraph, then many paragraphs, and fairly often it turns into another story.

    A story I wrote ended with a character finding her lost diary. I thought about what might happen if someone had read the diary before returning it. So at the end of that story I wrote this sentence.

    Tom put the diary down and sat back in his chair. He knew he had to return the diary, but he kept thinking about what he read on page 224. Maybe things might work out after all.

    I know, thats 3 sentences, but you get the idea. I wrote another story from Tom’s point of view.

    I like it best when I find something new to write about, and your blog has done wonders for me in that area. But the “one sentence” method has worked for me in ways I never imagined.

    I’m glad you find something new to post every day, Joe.

    • http://joebunting.com Joe Bunting

      I love that, Angelo. “At the end of the story I write a sentence. Anything, as long as it can be part of the story. I’m always amazed at how that one sentence turns into a paragraph, then many paragraphs, and fairly often it turns into another story. ”

      What a great method!

    • Yvette Carol

      Wondered where you’d gotten to Angelo. Nice to see you back! Are you going to write a short story this week for the comp? I’ve been obsessing about mine…

      • http://bikerider.Writing.Com/ Angelo Dalpiaz

        I had forgotten that old saying; everything takes longer and costs more than you predicted. The kitchen remodel has been extended to the dining room, and foyer. I’m also making the oak cabinets for the kitchen. A lot of work!

        I’m working on something for the comp but it’s coming to me slowly. I think my muse is as worn out as I am.

  • http://jblearnstowrite.tumblr.com/ JB Lacaden

    In the next month or so we’re going to be releasing a resource about how to capture ideas in a whole new way and revolutionize your writing. We’re really excited!

    - You’re not the only one excited Joe. Can’t wait! :)

    • http://joebunting.com Joe Bunting

      Ha thanks JB. That makes me really happy to hear.

  • kati

    and perhaps it goes without saying that it’s smart to set up the blog to be about a subject area that is broad enough to have sub-categories…and that you are passionate about each one. Like for you, Joe. You’re not just passionate about writing fiction, you like creative memoir, you’re experienced with editing, and you have studied classic literature. That’s a lot to draw from! So much easier than if someone was only passionate about historical romance, 1800′s, Scotland. I suppose there could be 365 posts a year coming out of that subject….but I’m not sure how many of us would come along for the ride :-)

    • http://joebunting.com Joe Bunting

      Ha! Great point, Kati. Although I’d be interested in seeing that 1800s Scotland historical romance blog. If they COULD keep it up, I’m sure it would make for a very interesting blog!

  • http://twitter.com/michaelwroberts Michael Roberts

    Running out of ideas for your blog on a consistent basis may be an indication that it’s time to move on. Writing for a blog that you’re passionate about or that you’re closely aligned to helps the floodgates open for your ideas.

    The difference between ideas that flow and ideas that you have to force is huge.

    • http://joebunting.com Joe Bunting

      Very true, Michael. Great point. Lucky for me, this is my obsession.

      • MarianneVest

        Your obsession is lucky for a lot of us Joe.

        • http://joebunting.com Joe Bunting

          :) You always know what to say to make me smile, Marianne.

        • Yvette Carol

          Hear hear Marianne!

  • http://unknownjim.com/ Jim Woods

    I get ideas from books, my own struggles creatively, movies, music, family, other blogs and most importantly, conversations with others. Conversations with someone inspiring really, really help me.

    • Yvette Carol

      Your blog is great Jim. It reads clear and sweet.

      • http://unknownjim.com/ Jim Woods

        Thank you so much! I really appreciate that!

  • http://www.thenancyway.com/ Nancy Roe

    I blog three days a week on various topics. On the weekend I write three articles for the following week. This allows me the time to think of ideas before the actual deadline. This procedure has worked for me.

  • 0chartwig0

    If you go to AWP like Joe and I did, you will never run out of ideas to blog about. And by the way, meeting Joe in person was a treat. We all know he’s a. Excellent thinker and a strong writer. But he’s also handsome! There is an advantage to meeting in the real world.

    • http://joebunting.com Joe Bunting

      You’re too much, Cynthia.

      I had a blast meeting you, though, Cynthia. I hope it won’t be the last AWP we get a chance to see each other.

  • http://www.christtribe.com/ Bob Holmes

    Thanks Joe!

    You fired me up. In fact I didn’t mean to, but I used this article as a writing prompt and wrote on Kaizen.

    http://bobholmes.blogspot.com/2012/03/little-bit-every-day.html

    Love You Man!

  • Carey Rowland

    Sorry, Joe, I beg to differ with your (obsessive?) premise of blogging everyday. Making it a daily compulsion obliterates authenticity and defiles serendipity, at the risk of qualitatively diluting the full persuasive strength of your of your bloggating potency.
    My very loose goal is one a week, maybe two, especially since the writing time is divided between the blog and the third novel, Smoke, not to mention (though I am mentioning) the 40-hour gig that ties me down like Dionysius or whoever that greek god was. I’m not a greek god, and neither are you, and when I start to feel guilty about the blog compulsion I just declare away with you, outrageous compulsion to blog and Out, damned blog!

    • http://joebunting.com Joe Bunting

      You might be right about some of that, Carey, but I have no talent for serendipity. I have talent for habits, and blogging is a habbit that for me, must be done daily or not at all. What I love about your declaration though is the wonderful reminder that we are not slaves, even to our habits. Thanks!

  • Yvette Carol

    Hey Joe, I was hoping you’d say something about the AWP conference….
    You’ve also got me thinking with this post.
    Good on you for jumping in with both feet, albeit the panic attack. I on the other hand, stepped back.
    Last year I decided to start a blog, and to that end I started compiling posts on writing, being my main interest in life. However then the mentor I’d been following via her blog, Kristen Lamb, advised not to start a blog about writing unless you’re a writing teacher or similar. Because then you limited your potential audience to other writers whereas you wanted to ultimately reach everyone else. So I tried writing (I think I managed about 6 posts) on ‘other things’ and it bored me to tears frankly. So the whole thing failed before it even got off the ground.
    Kristen said if you’re not blogging yet, at the very least, get out there and get active amongst the online blogging community. Hence my sudden dive into blogs this year (something I’d never done before), which I have found incredibly fun. I have to say though, yours is my fave, because the vibe is right, the contributors are savvy, and I can feel my writers muscles getting a regular workout. It’s all good.
    As soon as I got active blogging-wise I was glad I hadn’t started my own because it felt like one job too many on my already full plate, you know what I mean? Do you feel I can achieve the same sort of online presence this way or does one really have to own their own blog as well?

  • http://lauraplusthevoices.blogspot.com/ Laura

    “Over 200 posts and almost 8 months of writing under our belt” –> I had no idea this blog was so young! That’s great, to have started this less than a year ago and achieved such popularity, not to mention sharing all your great ideas.

    I usually only post 3-4 times a week, because I don’t want to overload inboxes or subscriptions. I also have a fear of becoming redundant if I post too much. It helps to assign certain topics to certain days, I’ve found, as well as write 5 or 6 posts in a sitting if I have a really good “idea streak.” I also occasionally do “Part 1″ and “Part 2″ posts. If I’m really crunched for an idea, I do a book review. Speaking of which, I haven’t done one of those in a while…hmm… :)

  • http://ittakes10k.wordpress.com/ Yor Ryeter

    I blog everyday and it becomes automatic that I am also sure that today I am and will be able to share something. :) There are slow days especially if I know that I am going to be away and will have no access to Internet, I got to make sure I write more than one post and that’s a challenge I am happy to do. I love blogging.

    Great post!

  • http://www.littlegirltravels.com/ Unisse Chua

    I actually agree that keeping a small journal with you wherever you go helps gets ideas intact. I get tons of thinking done when I commute to work or before to school. I observed a lot of things and wanted to write about what I saw and felt about things around me.

    Though I tend to lose to laziness when it comes to blogging what I want to write everyday.

  • http://artistsroad.wordpress.com/ Patrick Ross

    For me, I always have plenty of ideas; I don’t always have plenty of GOOD ideas.

    I like what ochartwigo says below, both about getting ideas at AWP and about meeting Joe.

    As for the former, you can get ideas anywhere you go. This example is about personal essays, but I see little difference between essay writing and blogging. Patrick Madden in his essay collection Quotidiana writes that when asked how he comes up with so many ideas for essays, he says he keeps his eyes and ears open when he goes through life. If a writer is an observer, there’s never enough time to write every thought the world triggers in us.

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  • http://shewritesandrights.blogspot.com Bethany Suckrow

    I think the thing that keeps me motivated as a blogger and writer is consuming good content from others. I spend an hour every day reading my favorite blogs like it’s the NYT, and that gets my ideas rolling. The Write Practice is on that list. Others include The Poetry Foundation website, Jeff Goins’ blog, SamanthaShorey.blogspot.com, and other blogs that just have really great writing. It helps me keep the bar high for my own blog and inspires me to stay true to my voice. I write when I’m inspired and I don’t always plan ahead, which is sometimes my weakness, but I know that as long as I get my daily dose of good reads from around the web, I’ll find something to talk about.
    My other thing is keeping a notebook with me at all times, so that I can write down thoughts to return to later that will help me crank out a full post or article.

  • http://jacksonstory.wordpress.com/ J. Jackson Jr.

    I’ve blogged every day for 3+ months — minus four or five days — due in part to the structure that drives my discipline. (Or does discipline drive structure? Hmmm …)

    Monday, Wednedsay and Friday is a memoir-in-progress, with different themes each day. (Monday is “The 70s,” Wednesday is the chronicle of my journey of faith, “Wednesday Night Prayer Meeting,” and Friday is “Big dreams, big hair: The 80s.”)

    I look for guest posts on Tuesday and Thursday, but still make a post if I haven’t lined up or received the guest post. (The topic usually relates to my introduction to grandparenthood and the birth of our granddaughter). Saturday is themed, “The Write Life” (not real original, I know) where I completely borrow your concept and some of the links you provide. My goal is to fill “The Write Life” with posts by writers writing about writing.

    Sunday is optional for me.

    I typically opt to blog.

    About anything.

  • brab608

    When I run out of blog ideas I resort to writing about my dogs. They’re a never-ending source of material, whether humorous, touching or profound.

  • Pilar Arsenec

    Thank you so much. This is so helpful. I really appreciate it.

  • http://letthesewordshugyou.com/ Church Johnson

     

    I love this post so Much!

    I can relate so much to this article because when I was starting my Blog out (http://letthesewordshugyou.com/
    I was confuse and lost on things to write about too. I started it off with me writing
    about general topics but than the truth hit me in my sleep and now it’s a
    Poetry/Lover of Words type of Blog. I will say this I have to thank this Blog
    (The Write Practice) for inspiring me and giving me the encouragement I needed
    to help me get through those painful days. Thank you and God Bless you for
    wanting to help others with a passion to write.

    Church Johnson

     

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  • http://chrisjallen.com/ Chris Allen

    Joe, great post, thanks. So much clutter coming into my newsfeed this site makes a real change. I’ve been ‘thinking’ about firing up my dormant blog for too long now, the main problem is overthinking everything. This post puts it across in a nice simple way.

    PS. thought you were the girl in the photo to start with, then saw your pic underneath :)

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  • Matthew Gates

    I’ve been posting one article on my blog per day for 8 months straight. Sometimes 2 or 3 when I accept guest authors and articles. Half are from me and half from others. I know the exact transition you are talking about.. I read stuff all the time or people might say something or I’ll see something on television… and I get the idea to write about it.

    My goal: Once I have the idea, I make an effort to think about what I could talk about and then I make it my mission to write at least 300 – 400 words about it. And that translates into my post. From there, I know I can alway expand further.

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  • http://upfromnothing.com/ alexs@upfromnothing.com

    This is something that I have been pondering for the longest. It seems that Google loves data and every post creates an entry point for readers. I love how you have been able to encourage this practice. Is there an SEO benefit to daily posting? Some say there is, just curious to see definitive proof.

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