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Input... need input...

Recently, a blogger who shall remain nameless e-mailed me about their difficulties in coming up with topics to post about. Naturally, this hit me right when I was having similar challenges, but the mere question got me thinking about it. I started writing my answer, but soon realized I could make it do "double duty" and post it here, too.

But I'm not so vain that I think everyone is just dying to hear my thoughts about blogging -- hell, I don't even have my own blog. So I'm stuffing the excerpt from my e-mail below the fold.

J.

Update: it turns out said blogger wasn't wondering about topics, but how to actually have an effect. Oh, well... I'm still gonna toss this up because I'm too lazy to let it go to waste.

...I'm not sure why you singled out ME for advice on blogging, especially in light of the facts that 1) I don't even have a blog of my own and 2) I've been in a bit of a slump for the last couple of days, but if you're so desperate for advice that you'll listen to ME, the least I can do is answer sincerely.

You wondered about finding content for your own blog. That's probably the biggest obstacle I've found, and here are a few things I do to get around that block.

1) Listen to stand-up comics. Not so much for actual material, but for their style. Standups make their living off several things useful in blogging, such as finding a universality in common problems,
interacting with their audiences, reacting quickly to changing events, and finding connections between seemingly disparate ideas and events.

2) Listen to the news. Blogging is a very time-sensitive vocation, and the news is a great source for subject matter. Whatever gets your interest in the paper, on the radio, on TV, or online could very well be worth writing about.

3) Listen to the world. Simply seeing and hearing what goes on around you can give you ideas for posting. Twice I've simply reported on cute license plates, and sparked big discussions that went far beyond the initial seven letters on those plates.

4) Listen to the people you talk to. Not only will that give you insights into what others think is interesting and important, but they might say something specific that you might want to either respond to or outright steal for your blog.

5) Listen to yourself. Several times I've caught myself saying something in casual conversation that forced me to stop myself and write it down for future use in a posting. Yeah, occasionally it's
sucked, but more often than not it's worked out well.

6) Listen. People talk about what they find interesting. If something is being discussed, it is intrinsically interesting to someone. If you find it interesting, there's a good chance others will, too.

7) When all else fails, BOOBIES!

Of course, what good is a list without two bad examples of things to avoid? The first is a local talk show host here in Manchester. He used to be the biggest sportscaster in the state, but threw a hissy
fit and quit in a fit of pique. Now he's doing the morning show on a radio station, and it quite frankly stinks. But I haven't bothered to write about it because who the hell would care about a local talk show host whose show sounds like he's been sentenced to community service?

The second involves my obsession with naval warfare. The British have a huge gift for fantastic names for their warships. Warspite, Repulse, Renown, Revenge, Invincible (which blew up with no survivors, but that's another story), Warrior, Inflexible, Indomitable, Illustrious, Vengeance, Victorious, Audacious, Conqueror, Thunderer... but again, the general audience would yawn and move on.

And, naturally, as soon as I start writing this, I think I found angles to use both ideas. Sigh...

I've often said that one of my main purposes in life was to serve as a bad example to others, and now I'm even screwing that up...


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Comments (16)

Given that my blog is relat... (Below threshold)
Orac:

Given that my blog is relatively new, I haven't run out of ideas yet. In fact, I have a list of topics that will take months to get through. However, I do foresee a time when I might have trouble coming up with ideas or But the reason that list of topics is so long is because, every time I come up with an idea, if I'm near my computer I will immediately go to Blogger and create a new "dummy" post listing the topic and idea. These serve as reminders to me. Some of the ideas are about current events and therefore time-dependent. I have to blog on them fairly quickly or they are no longer of much interest.

As for where I get these ideas that I keep adding to my list:

1. I browse many blogs very rapidly through their RSS feeds, looking for topics that pique my interest.

2. I browse many news and commentary websites.

3. I peruse the scientific and medical journals, looking for interesting studies to comment on. (This works because I am a physician-scientist.)

4. I think about patients I've seen recently. Interesting anonymized patient stories often make for interesting pieces.

5. I read newspapers and magazines.

6. Given my interest in Holocaust denial, I peruse the web for stories on WWII or Holocaust denial.

7. If all else fails, I review recent CDs or TV shows...

Orac

Here's one for you:<p... (Below threshold)
Palmateer:

Here's one for you:

Try to imagine how different the CBS Report on memogate would have been, and how different the subsequent discourse about it, if KERRY had won the election.

If you have to work that ha... (Below threshold)

If you have to work that hard to find blogging topics, my advice is to not blog at all.

Ditto Michelle, though firs... (Below threshold)
epador:

Ditto Michelle, though first try turning off the TV and radio, stop surfing the web and other blog sites, take a walk somewhere you don't usually go, and stop and talk to people along the way. If they don't kill you in a mugging or racially motivated incident, and you make it to an internet cafe or back home, see if your mind is still blank. If it is, follow michele's advice. Otherwise, blog away!

Topics are easy. If you ha... (Below threshold)
Jay:

Topics are easy. If you have real trouble, it's as much to do with a creativity and imagination at the time. I get that sometimes. Other times everything I see and do inspires me.

In one recent post I sort of addressed the idea of getting inspiration by pointing out what a potential goldmine of bloggy ideas could be found at this timeline:
http://scriptorium.lib.duke.edu/eaa/timeline.html

That's ebb at the ti... (Below threshold)
Jay:

That's ebb at the time.

I think it's a little harsh... (Below threshold)
Orac:

I think it's a little harsh to say that if it's hard to come up with ideas then you shouldn't be blogging. Several months hence, after I march my way through all the topics I've lined up so far, I can foresee a day when I might occasionally have trouble coming up with ideas. My suggestions were simply ways to break through the writers' block. Given that I usually do most of them anyway, they're really not much "work" at all.

Maybe listen to another sid... (Below threshold)

Maybe listen to another side (not the obvious DemUnderground).

Go to John Newcomer's blog (famed memo debunker) and before you read the entire post (it is long), read the last few paragraphs then read the whole thing. You will have material for weeks I am thinking. As a Kerry supporter, he has framed the biased media debate in a way that Rush could never do it.

dB

Well, blogging could stand ... (Below threshold)
-S-:

Well, blogging could stand an improvement of, say, some pause and consideration before being done, beyond the "blog or dont' blog" desolatory options.

Perhaps the question is, toward what end or not toward what end and why. Not that there isn't always something to write about, just that perhaps there is reason to consider what to write about and why, beyond the mere "it's a keyboard, you type or you don't" commentary.

You're a charmer, Jay, and most everything, even the mundane, that you write about has charm and appeal. Well, nearly almost. Perhaps your friend just wanted a discussion, not so much themes and/or ideas.

I've found a virtual vein o... (Below threshold)

I've found a virtual vein of gold researching Pork Barrel Spending in the two recent Omnibus Spending Bills.

Invitation to stop by for a look-see:

http://porkopolis.blogspot.com

Karl's weekly memo is the s... (Below threshold)
minnie:

Karl's weekly memo is the source most of us conservative bloggers use. It tells us what issues to blog about, and what positions to take, even some key phrases that have been focus group tested for maximum impact that week.

If you're not getting the memo for some reason, you can subscribe to eib.com and read the latest instructions there.

I don't know Jay...some of ... (Below threshold)
firstbrokenangel:

I don't know Jay...some of the things you listed, you do not listen yourself. And when you are in a conversation with someone, out pops an idea for an article for a blog. If an idea pops into your head while spending time with someone else, keep it to yourself and don't pop out and say "now that's an idea for an article"... and just listen and pay attention to the person you are with. The next day, as a courteous thing to do, is to let that person know how much you enjoyed their company and any thoughts of an article for a blog, should be filed away without saying a word.

When I used to do resume's for people, I always told them to send a note and to include in that note something they discussed; this way the employer will then remember who they are and you have a better chance of getting that job than anyone else. It usually worked, too.

The same applies to dates or meetings, call or write that person and let them know you enjoyed their company and that always they will be your friend as they will be yours but at least let them know they existed.h The worst thing you can do is ignore them - it's hurtful.

One thing I posted on here some time ago is that a lot of people were lost on what to post once the elections were over but to be honest, there is a lot to post about even with the elections over and that is posting on more positive things and doing good for others;the last thing you want to do is hurt someone, so coming up with topics isn't that hard; it just takes a little more thinking, getting out of that slump and doing the right thing. One person you can ignore is "minnie" the troll; there's a lot of trouble makers out there - the difference is knowing who's good and who's not worth it.

You keep bitching about not having your own blog. We both know that is bullshit because this is one of the very best blogs on the net and what makes it so good is the three of you - Kevin, Paul and you, Jay. The three of you make this blog excellent, so indeed you do have your own blog - a collaborative one and a collaborative blog is what I would consider an excellent blog. The three of you are the best and I would hate to see any of you leave because it is the three of you who make this blog so great.

Cindy

Personally, I'd like to be ... (Below threshold)
firstbrokenangel:

Personally, I'd like to be on a collaborative blog myself, even if I have to start it myself with the help of already set bloggers because I am really computer stupid and could use the help. I already have a title - ie Kevin used it once on a post - and I'd like to make a collaborative post based on that particular title.

So Kev, if you read this, get in touch with me.

Cindy

They can always get ideas f... (Below threshold)

They can always get ideas from the same source as Harlan Ellison: Send a SASE & $2 to a certain PO Box in Schenectady, New York...

Just <a href="http://badexa... (Below threshold)

Just get a lemur.

JAY TEA, man what the fuck ... (Below threshold)
AMELIA MARTINEZ:

JAY TEA, man what the fuck is your article about? i cannot seem to understand how boring you, kevin and paul are. These ppl are so thick and low lives by giving you guys feedback about your worthless articles. am i the only one who feels this way????????? there are so many better things or headlines to be chatting about, come on JAY entertain us, not bore us. you don't seem to understand the difference between entertain and boredom. whats your occupation? an writer/author???




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