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.
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 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?
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.
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!