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Nine Years Writing: How I Generate Writing Concepts, Tools, and Strategies I Use

By Greg Balanko-Dickson

Lorelle mentioned in an email today, “I’ve been asked by many readers that they would love to crawl inside your head and find out how you write content.”

I have long thought about sharing my approach. Lorelle’s email got my attention today and I decided that it would be as good a day as any other to write about how I develop and write content for my blog(s).

A Wee Bit of History

I have been writing daily online since 1998 when I wrote a “Business Tip of the Day”. I used it as an opportunity to journal my experiences working as a business coach. It quickly became invaluable tool for extracting and documenting what I was learning developing my business and coaching clients (anonymously of course).

I made a commitment to always write a new article for the next “Business Tip of the Day” before I went to bed. I worked that way for almost 6 years. Honestly, there were days I did not feel like writing. The personal commitment I made required I press through because otherwise my site would produce a MySQL error – not good for the loyal readers – here is a list of concepts and tools

Writing Concepts and Tools

As I was editing this post I was surprised at how many different strategies I utilize to inventory writing ideas and the tools I use to write them.

Right now, I track and read 88 Blogs plus major business sites including USA Today, Business Week, and other business blogs. I read other blogs mostly to make sure I am in touch with the market, to leave supportive comments, and once in awhile I come across a really good post that I want to share with my readers. In those cases I tag specific stories, articles, or posts using tag, “article ideas”.

My greatest resource for writing ideas is what I learn as a result of coaching my clients or as a result of running my own business.

Often I get motivated to write about a new topic. I take time to research the topic to see who and what is being said. I use DevonAgent to spider the web for content ideas as the results are much more accurate than any search engine especially when I use a NEAR parameter – this function allows me to find content that I would not otherwise be able to easily find via any search engine.
When I am stuck on an idea and find myself looking at a blank page, I turn to my Dictionary and Thesaurus. A Thesaurus helps me get my thoughts organized because the words referenced in a Thesaurus are all within the same general concept.

Occasionally, I will start a post using a Dictionary definition because it gets me to the root meaning, background of the word, and the ‘concept’ of the word(s). I find it really frees my mind because those other ‘words’ stimulate other connected ideas and concepts that I might not have considered in my article. I prefer to use Visual Thesaurus or the Widget on the Dashboard of my Apple MacBookPro.

I often create Mind Maps (Mind Manager) for complex articles, concepts, and issues. They work just as well when I just need to get an idea out of my head so I can begin to work on it. Then I export it to a RTF format and begin writing.

These days, I sit down and begin writing. I start with a certain theme, meme, presumption, and write. When I go back to edit I am often surprised to observe that by the end of the post it evolved into something quite different. In those cases the time spent writing doubles as a bit of education.

Depending on my mood, I will use Omni Outliner to create a basic structure for the article. I then export export it to a RTF format and then begin to write in one of three tools. I use MacJournal sometimes because it will post directly to WordPress by clicking a button. These days I tend to not use MacJournal because I find that I need to go and login anyways because I have to add other blog features i.e. add the post to a “series” or add keywords via Ultimate Tag Warrior.

Today, I am using VooDoo from Flying Meat as my writing application. It is a desktop Wiki that allows me to organize, link to, and keep a copy of my writing for myself all within one document. I had no idea I was such a writing geek and had so many writing tools [read toys].

Writing Style

My blog writing is part journal, enlightened opinion, educational, or an indepth series about a particular topic. According to Lorelle:

“Greg Balanko-Dickson teaches the domino effect in his essays. Fix one thing and other things will start to fix themselves. Take it step-by-step and stay focused. Most of all, when you do good works in your life, you inspire others to do good works, and you attract a lot of good work to you. It’s really inspirational writing as well as motivational.

He also specializes in what I call ‘kick ass’ inspiration. If you need some kicking to get you off your butt and into action, Greg is the source for good butt kicking.” – Lorelle on WordPress

Share Your Experience

Do you use any of the tools or strategies mentioned? If so, which ones, and how might you be using them a bit differently?

Information geeks unite!

Greg Balanko-Dickson is author of two business books, third generation entrepreneur and The Remote Control CEO.


  1. Posted August 15, 2007 at 5:09 pm | Permalink

    This is pretty useful information/programs for organizing ideas, however these are Mac programs, so I wonder if there’s any PC alternatives?

  2. Posted August 15, 2007 at 5:45 pm | Permalink

    Free Mind is mind mapping software for Windows that is free I think. Mind Manager does offer a Windows version. I am sure there must be a Windows based Outliner.

  3. Posted August 15, 2007 at 5:54 pm | Permalink

    I recently did a post of one of my own writing tools that I use for my own WordPress Blog…Since I covered most everything in the post I won’t go into it again here.

  4. Posted August 15, 2007 at 8:56 pm | Permalink

    I don’t use any of those. I just switch on my computer, log in to my blog, and start typing. Aww.. I’m such a no-planner..

  5. Posted October 23, 2007 at 9:21 am | Permalink

    Thanks for the excellent article! I’m new to blogging and am already feeling a wee bit discouraged, wondering what the heck to write about next. I’m definitely going to check out some of the links you’ve provided!

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