Mar 19, 2008
Here are some ideas for writing for a blog that I came up when brainstorming for ideas for my blog. It may or may not be helpful for a writer’s block.
A Numbers List
A numbers list, e.g. “10 Bestest Games Evar”, “20 Weirdest Science Facts of 2004″, is an easy and lazy way to write. It requires an paragraph of text per each thing, at best. A lot of these are basically link lists — something that wasn’t too useful even back in 1996.
Worst case scenario: You essentially need to come up with a generic title (be sure to include “best” and “you’ve never heard of” somewhere in the post title) and then a template in which you fill in the blanks for each bullet point in the post. It’s like doing Madlibs with yourself. Just put the game/movie/social networking site in the template, repeat 20 times and you’re go.
Best case scenario: You come up with an idea, which is original. Even if the actual idea wasn’t too original, you will balance that with quality reviews of each thing you include. Or, you could try to narrow your scope so you will provide at least a somewhat useful list for a certain topic. In practice, your goal is to create original content even if it merely described other content.
How to improve: If you are writing about best games you saw last year, you include images or even better a video on YouTube. I find it very convenient if I can instantly view footage of a game and changes are I’ll revisit the post just because all the videos are in the same place. Even if you are writing of a subject everyone has an opinion about, you could try to entertain with your opinion.
Many blogs quote other blogs and then continue on the subject or critique the original quote. This is easy, as long as you keep in mind you need to have something to add and that you need to provide something more to read. Simply paraphrasing someone else’s text to give a heads-up to your readers about some other blog can be acceptable in some sense but it is rarely captivating enough in its own right. Obviously, the dark side of this is blatant stealing of content, links and ideas.
Worst case scenario: Your blog consists of a stream of links to other blogs. The readers will be bored of filtering through all the random stuff. Unless they are clones of you — in which case they will be very interested of everything.
Best case scenario: You disagree or agree with someone’s blog. You quote the parts of the original post and include your own thoughts (“Sucks!” and “Ditto!” is not acceptable). Generally, after reading your post the discussion has advanced. Or, in case you are just posting a heads-up to your readers about another blog, after reading your blog your readers don’t have to refer to the original blog to keep on track.
How to improve: Even if it’s only your opinion, you need to have a solid base of your argument (well, duh). Your content needs to be interesting and entertaining in its own right — otherwise your blog will be a a mishmash of random links to other blogs.
Write about a Hobby
You could try to educate the masses about something you already know about. Everyone has a hobby, which means everyone knows about something that is interesting enough to keep as a hobby. Obviously, not everyone has the skill of teaching. Nonetheless, most people can provide a bit of help to people who wish to know more about, say, programming or guitar playing.
Worst case scenario: You write about a trivial subject everyone with half a brain knows. Or, you write about something you don’t quite get. And the writing is sloppy, your goal is just to bash the keyboard until you have created any content at all for your blog. In addition, you just copy other people’s content.
Best case scenario: You write about something cool you came up with, tell how you did it and are ready to answer questions. Your goal is to share your knowledge or at least the end product.
How to improve: Again, more content is better. Provide images or videos. A lot of tutorials and instructions on the ‘Net are good enough for their writing alone, but it is quite rare to see good illustration for a geometry problem or a good video of some handicraft technique. One thing I have noticed are videos of someone doing something trivial on the computer — for a computer-illiterate this can be very helpful. It requires a bit of effort to produce good visual aids but for the reader it’s worth its weight in anything he or she considers valuable.
Write about Your Day
This is the archetype of all blogs, writing about what you did today. It is acceptable to the readers only if you are very good at writing — or are ready to expose interesting details of your life. Don’t be alerted, exposing those interesting details can be as easy as reviewing a movie you saw last night.
Worst case scenario: Twitter. Livejournal.
Best case scenario: Your writing is extremely good, humorous or you simply pour your heart into your writing. Or, you provide a honest opinion on a movie, a warning on a brand of bad hardware you bought or give useful information about living with a rare disease.
More Ideas and Examples
- 101 Great Posting Ideas That Will Make Your Blog Sizzle is a typical numbers list but you might find a good subject in the list.
- Take a look how Let Your Blog Posts Marinate (4 Steps to Forming Great Ideas) begat Marinating Ideas into Blog Posts — the latter post doesn’t rip off the original idea but expands on it.
- Bad Astronomy Blog’s How to stand an egg on end is an example of what I said earlier about providing a video. You as a reader don’t even have to do it yourself because the video proves it’s possible. :)