By Catherine Potts
Feb 15, 2008
More Articles by Catherine
There is a popular phrase that says “be the person your dog thinks you are.” This means, your dog knows you’re a good, honest and kind person. Your dog supposedly knows the “real you.” The “honest” you.
I wish my dog could give me ideas for what to write about this week! The search for ideas-original ideas haunts me. In my opinion there really isn’t a reason to write about something that has been written about twenty times (or more) so far this year.
So in my search, I stumbled on an article addressing my very issue. Skelliewag in his post ’9 Things That Drive Bloggers Crazy’ (that references a guess post by Leo Babauta called ‘The Top 20 Ways to Come Up With Amazing Ideas’. My episodes are known as “blogger’s block.”
Ideas are fickle things. Sometimes they come in spades, sometimes they take time, other times you can look back on a pool of ideas you thought were fantastic three days ago and see no merit in them now.
There certainly isn’t a void of topics to write about. My hangup is actually finding a fantastic “hook” over and above what anyone else has done in this industry. It seems some days that everything has been written about. I have a desire to not pilfer or plagiarize (it’s just not cool) or even seem like I am.
Another hangup is that I don’t want to come across as though I’m merely phoning it in. My writing really needs to matter. So in my journey, I’ve stumbled across sites that address my very issue. Skellie and Leo have a reputation for consistent and good writing so any advice they (or anyone else can offer up, I’ll consider).
Not only am I a full timer for Search Mojo, I’m a part-time student as well. An English student at that, currently with a writing emphasis. A professor just said this week that if you’re looking for inspiration, waiting for a muse to appear on your shoulder to tell you what to write about, well… it’s just not going to happen.
To be a good writer, my professor says, you have to cannibalize yourself. You expose your weaknesses and darkness. What is it about me, the topic of my blog entry this week, that has a tough time finding an original topic? Granted SEO is constantly being written about. Rightfully so. Any industry does that. It’s just how it is if you want to gain visibility and notoriety.
Skellie links over to Darren Rowse at ProBlogger who brings to us the business of mind mapping. That is, building from one blog post to the next. Use previous ideas to keep the ideas coming.
His idea is that you draw five circles. Put the titles of the last five posts inside those circles and consider if any post can be expanded. For each circle, you draw a line out from the circle:
At this point I’ve got 7 potential new posts to write that extend upon my original one – coming up with them took me 2-3 minutes – if I were doing this seriously I’d give it more time and come up with 20 or so posts.
These ideas are logical next steps for readers wanting to explore this topic – some of them based upon actual questions by readers. Do this with the other four posts you’ve written and you’ll have plenty of ideas for new posts to cover in the coming week or two.
It would seem that this would be easy, and I’ll give it a try. Heck it cant’ hurt! Leo over at Zen Habits wrote in his guest post for Skellie, 20 ideas for coming up with new ideas. Here are a few:
1.) Read a lot (ok I do that, but I’m sure I could focus the reading better)
2.) Participate in forums (I can’t say that I do more than read them at this point)
3.) Freshen up the places you read on the web (I definitely am always on the hunt for new sites)
4.) Question what your reading
5.) Examine your life (a.k.a. cannibalizing yourself)
6.) Listen more
7.) Carry a notebook/Keep a list/think of everything as a possible blog post.
I guess it’s just about getting the brain trained to see the possibilities in every encounter. Instead of thinking “well… it’s all been covered ten thousand times,” I need to open my brain up to see the subtleties in the world that might be loudly prompting me to write about them. I’ll keep you posted on how the mind mapping goes. I think it’ll serve me well to track the ideas and build on them. Certainly can’t hurt to try.