Since I wrote about creativity, I’ve been considering the issue of getting inspiration for blog posts.
Some who commented on that article said they never have trouble finding post ideas. But others revealed that they really struggle with getting inspiration. Sometimes, they’re struck by it; other times, they have to go out and track it down bodily.
I’ve found that my approach has a lot to do with how many post ideas I have. I wanted to share my approach here, and see if you felt the same way, or take a different approach.
The production trap
The burden of having to “produce” content can be overwhelming to the point where it stops production altogether. Feeling that you need to “produce” to a schedule, or on a regular basis, can make you feel a bit like a machine, and make your content seem like an “output”.
If I take this approach, my writing can become mechanical, my posts formulaic, and my points vague and unfocussed. The last thing I want to be is a content sausage-factory, but if I take a “production” philosophy, that’s how I wind up feeling—and it shows in my content.
The exploration goldmine
The “production” approach doesn’t work for me, but the “exploration” approach does.
I find writing posts is a great way to explore the ideas that are on my mind. You probably started your blog because you have an interest in your blog’s topic. What aspects of that topic are on your mind? What elements are you curious about? What areas within that field annoy you, and why?
These kinds of considerations are precisely what inspire me to write. I look at what others are doing and saying and creating, and I reflect on that—maybe not immediately, with a pen in my hand and notebook open, but over time. I let these ideas, motivations, and questions filter, settle, and develop in my mind. They’re always there—we’re always thinking, right? Then, when something really starts to stick in my conscious, I write about it.
Your blog is the ideal place to explore those ideas that are rattling around your mind. Rather than “producing posts”, you might find it helpful to think of your blogging as an opportunity to:
- formulate disparate thoughts into coherent concepts
- advance your own theories
- suggest alternative viewpoints or approaches that have occurred to you
- see if your readers agree with a hunch you’ve got
- invite readers to help shape your perception, idea, or viewpoint
This post is an example of exactly that. As I mentioned at the outset, this idea—of post writing being a way to explore and develop thinking on a topic—has been sifting through my mind ever since I wrote that post on creativity. There are many half-formed, embryonic ideas in my mind, as I’m sure there are in yours, and this one has finally surfaced as something that I wanted to get a second opinion on.
So here I am, posting about it, in the hopes that you’ll share your thoughts on using your blog to explore and develop ideas in the comments. I’d love to hear them!