by engtech of Internet Duct Tape
I never have trouble finding something to write about. A bigger problem for me is finding something inspiring enough that I’ll make the time to write about it. When my muse is hiding she’s often found:
- In my morning shower
- In my first cup of coffee
- In my morning commute
- Or running through my head before I go to sleep at night
Write It Down
One of the best blogging techniques is to keep a notebook for writing down ideas. I prefer a pen and a notebook over an electronic means because it is more portable. The problem I find with keeping electronic notes is that they lead to more time on the computer, they can get lost, and half the time I get completely sidetracked with something else on that bright shiny Internet instead of writing down my ideas.
To Feed or Not To Feed
RSS is a blogger’s best friend because it lets you easily keep track of reading other blogs, and any blog worth it’s salt has an RSS feed. Unfortunately, it can be almost too easy to subscribe to blogs (depending on your web browser). Reading other blogs can be a great inspiration but they’re also a great distraction. It’s important to realize the difference and accept the fact that it’s a rare day that you get to the bottom of your feed reader.
To Comment or Not to Comment
Commenting on other blogs builds up a relationship between you and the other blogger, but it also can be a huge time sink. I’ve found myself in ruts where I’m not posting, but I’m commenting on other blogs (and sometimes not even taking the time to respond to comments on my own blog!) Like with all things, the secret is to find balance between conflicting goals. Many of those comments can easily turn into posts of their own with a little elbow grease. Use RSS, a bookmarking site like del.icio.us, or a service like co.comment to track the comments you are leaving elsewhere and expand them into posts of their own.
Google as a Muse
One of the simplest indicators that something could make for a great post is if I have trouble finding information about it on the Internet. If the top ten search results in Google don’t provide much info, and there isn’t a Wikipedia article about it, then I know I might have a breakaway hit on my hands like my post on how to synchronize Google Calendar to anything that has a garnered over 100 trackbacks or a list of favorite romantic movies that I wrote with the help of my girlfriend that has managed to stay in the top five search results for “romantic movies” for over six months.
Finding Your Point of View
You have a hidden weapon of mass communication in your blogging arsenal: no one else is living your life and the unique point of view that it gives you. Having multiple interests lets you see something common in an entirely different light. One of my favorite blogs about programming is written by Giles Bowkett. As well as programming he is interested in acting and screenwriting and he has had some great posts like why geeks should study acting, why geeks should study acting: lie detection, geeks need agents, great hackers / great actors, and talking about how having a foot in each of these worlds is one of his strongest assets.
The Yard Sale
One of the side effects from blogging is the great number of ideas that don’t go anywhere. They could be snippets of posts, or small handfuls of links and research. They’re easily lost, quickly forgotten about, and end up cluttering the corners of whatever organization system we use. If this was in your house you’d organize a yard sale or donate to goodwill, and that’s exactly what I’m suggesting you do with these blog snippets that aren’t going anywhere — dust them off and put them out there instead of saving them for a rainy day.
Ship It Now
This is another area where programming and blogging intersect. It’s all well and good to learn new things, polish old skills and fiddle with your blog design — but ultimately the only thing that is going to reach other people, building incoming links and attract new readers is to finish writing your blog post. Finding inspiration is much easier than finding the time to write, so it’s important to not let yourself become distracted from the task at hand. Researching, learning and communicating are the most enjoyable parts of blogging, but you don’t have a blog unless you write that post and hit publish.
engtech blogs regularly at Internet Duct Tape. His latest post was What is your Opportunity Cost? Subscribe to Internet Duct Tape by RSS or by email.