This week’s Blaugust 2019 theme deals with topic generation — in other words, how to keep coming up with new ideas to write about. That can be a really tricky thing, especially for writers starting out. After you get done with that initial batch of posts that have been sitting in your head… then what next? How do you keep on coming up with ideas, especially when you worry that it’s all been done and said before?
I’ve seen this happen to so many bloggers, where there’s a strong, excited start and then a quick drop-off into complete silence. That’s not just a blogging thing, that’s a writing thing. Writing takes a lot of time and effort and discipline, and you can’t just keep going based on that initial enthusiasm. You have to build up your “writing muscles” and develop a good schedule and pattern to help you go the distance.
For me, one of the most important aspects of this is to always be thinking of new ideas to write about. Back when I started my first gaming blog WAAAGH! in 2008, I initially thought I’d be writing three times a week. By the second day, I was going daily and sometimes two or three posts a day for a good long while. I felt like I had uncorked a bottled-up flood of things I wanted to write about because I was passionate about MMORPG gaming, and I had to get it on the screen.
But it’s been over a decade now and that initial enthusiasm has dimmed. What’s replaced it is an ongoing interest in sharing my perspectives and journeys and opinions. A long time ago, I got away from the habit of sitting down every morning to think of what to write for that day’s post, because that more often than not bit me in the butt with a complete lack of ideas. Instead, I started writing ahead and making a habit of creating quick post drafts with various ideas that I had no time right then to write about. Nowadays, I’m usually writing a full week ahead with a note on my scheduler to finish up any remaining posts for the next week on the Friday previous — and it’s honestly not that hard.
We come up with ideas all the time, but the problem is that they usually pop in our head when we aren’t right in front of our computers at the optimal time to write. We figure that we’ll remember them later when we do have that time… and then we totally forget them. A mountain of ideas, all forgotten. Unless, of course, you develop that habit to write down small prompts for yourself to address later.
You see someone else write on a post that you’d like to address? Drop that link into an otherwise blank post draft and save it! You read something in the gaming news that gives you a notion? Quick, grab your phone, load the WordPress app or zip an email to yourself, and jot down a short phrase about it.
Probably one of the best idea generation times for me is while I’m playing games. I have trained myself to always be thinking about potential blog posts when I’m going through my gaming sessions, and I will not hesitate to tab out and start up a temporary post if I have a particular experience or a topic comes to mind.
It’s not magic, it’s just a skill that you develop, and it really does help you avoid any future writer’s block. In fact, some days you might bemoan having way too much to write about!