A lady left a comment for me a while ago. It said:
“How do you get the inspiration to write/blog? I’m trying to get in to it but am having trouble being consistent with it”
I wrote her a long and quite detailed reply, by email, and she didn’t acknowledge my reply 😦 [I’m still quite miffed about it, but I’m not going to judge].
I thought some of my readers might find something helpful within the reply I sent her, so thought I’d make it in to a post of it’s own (I realise it’s probably quite basic information for many of you but post in the hope that it might be of use to someone!). Here goes:
How did I start blogging?
How did I start blogging? I just decided to start! And then I made myself post every day. I started this blog on 1st September, with a challenge that was to write from certain prompts every day for 30 days (Blog-tember; all my posts for that challenge are here). Then I wrote every day from a challenge that provided a one word prompt every day for the month of October (Kate Motaung’s 31 days of five minute free-writing challenge; all my posts are here).
I wanted to do these two challenges so that I could develop a regular posting habit, as I’m planning on building my blog in to a community offering help/advice/reference material for a specific group of readers and I knew I’d need to develop the habit before I could launch the full – ‘proper’ – version of the blog/community I envisage.
Developing the blogging habit
Whilst posting every day in response to those challenges, and since the challenges, I’ve been developing the blogging habit (which is so much more than ‘simply’ writing a blog post).
Blogging requires a great deal of time:
– having the ideas for blog posts (often quite a lot of research)
– developing the ideas (more often than not a lot more research!)
– planning and then doing the writing and editing
– launching the posts (formatting, adding in images (I haven’t been doing this as standard as yet – hence the slapdash nature of the images!), scheduling posts, organising the editorial calendar etc)
– developing community – replying to all comments and mails that come in (it’s an important part of why I blog)
I’d say that writing the actual post is about a quarter to half the time it actually takes to put a post live and then interact with all those who are kind enough to comment on the post.
So, I knew I’d need some time (the two months of the two challenges plus some more!) to carve out time in my routine to see if I have time for it and, if not, to see how I could make the time, to be able to commit myself to blogging, to building this community I envision.
That’s how I ‘built in’ my plan for consistency (a work in progress still!)
Finding the inspiration to write/blog
As to inspiration to write/blog, that’s a difficult one and an easy one. I could flippantly say “Well, you’re not a writer/will not be a good blogger if you don’t have the inspiration to be one”, but I don’t think that’s very useful advice!
The deeper answer is, perhaps, what are you inspired by? What do you want to write about?
Think about it. Do you know?
I’m sure you do, as you wouldn’t have wanted to begin if you didn’t have some inspiration towards some specific direction.
So, take that specific direction and run with it.
Brainstorm the general topics you find interesting. You’ll find sub-topics emerging. From those sub-topics brainstorm again and come up with 30 blog post topics you could write about. Write them down on a piece of paper, headed ‘My first 30 blog posts’.
You’ve done brilliant! Don’t do anything else for a while. Rest, and read them over and over. Imagine yourself writing them (yes, it sounds crazy but just do it!).
After a day or so, come back to the list, and do two things:
1. Write a draft post.
2. Research the other 29 posts in a way I call ‘lightly’: skim research so you get a general idea of the background to the topic but don’t go so deep. From this you’ll get lots and lots of other ideas: write them all down on a separate sheet of paper. Write them as they come to you. Don’t worry how it looks or how they’re organised. Just write them to get them out of your head as they come. Then, once you’ve exhausted the research, organise those ideas. There’ll be big topic headings, specific blog post ideas, perhaps, even specific blog post titles. Organise them however you feel is best for you (I have a folder at the side of my laptop: I keep pages for blog post ideas and pages for ‘bigger ideas not yet researched fully’). It’s not pretty. In fact it looks like this (!)…
…but it helps me keep me organised! [And nothing gets done in my life if I’m not organised]
After all that – and after you repeat that regularly – you’ll be a regular ‘idea generation machine’ for blog post ideas AND the research aspect will come much easier to you.
You then ‘simply’ need to plan which order you’ll write and publish the posts and then schedule the posts once they’re written (scheduling will help you to develop a regular blogging habit but I know there are many brilliant bloggers who write ‘by the seat of their pants’ and it works for them….!).
Again, my calendar is not pretty but it works for me (eek – look at that mess! Anti-Pinterest as Rachel would say!):
In a nutshell
The reader asked about where I find the inspiration to write/blog and how to develop consistency.
I found consistency by forcing myself to blog daily through the routine of sticking to two daily challenges. My inspiration comes from my experiences and my desire to know more about specific subjects and to communicate that desire/knowledge to my readers. [I keep myself inspired by researching. I’m constantly researching using the process I described, which constantly inspires me to find more and more depth to the issues I’m interested in blogging about]. I write because, for me, I can’t NOT do so. It’s a compulsion.
Hope this helps: I’m happy to answer questions in the comments!
[Am thinking of starting a regular ‘blogging issues’ series on Saturdays: is this something you’d be interested in? Let me know! (And, if so, let me know any topic ideas you’d be interested in seeing). I’m obviously not an established – or authoritative – blogger but I might be able to provide some help based on my years of freelance work as a writer and editor…it’s taught me nothing if not a million things about organisation, research and planning!]