Thursday, January 15, 2009

How to Get Ideas and Write About Them

I get asked a lot how is it possible to write a fresh blog post every day, or almost every day. I always smile when I hear that question....that's one thing I've never read about, I just do it.

A lot of ideas come from reading articles, blog posts, and books. Usually I find something that validates what I had come up with, so I go on and express my perspective on the topic, whether it's style, creativity, making presentations, or de-cluttering. Sometimes I get inspiration from things going on in my life, a crisis of one sort or another, or maybe from those times of slogging through. Another way of getting ideas is that they appear in my brain, usually when that happens, I wake up with some hot idea and I rush to write about it.

There is a common thread from all of these sources. The commonality is that I seek and expect to find ideas. And I do find them and write about them.

The same thing happens with my dissertation. While I know a lot already of what needs to go into this tome, there's a lot I don't know how to structure, or how to connect the dots between the culture, politics, communication theory, rhetoric. I not only have to create a written product that's academically acceptable, it has to be as interesting as that medium allows me to be.

If you want to generate ideas, or develop your writing, here's the process:

1. Commit. Decide on a quantity of work you want to generate a day, or in a week and set aside time to sit yourself down to write.

2. Sit down. Either at your computer or with a fresh sheet of paper and pen. Sit yourself down to write. It does not matter that you have NO IDEA what to write. I deal with this all the time. You sit down and get ready to write.

3. Write something silly and/or stupid. Mario Puzo, author of The Godfather, accurately stated that writing is all in the re-writing. There may be times when sublime material emerges in your first draft, but that's not usually my case. In fact my best blog posts are those I have time to work on over several days, but that's not always possible either. I have committed to get 5 blog posts out each week. Some I like a lot, some I sort of like.

4. Polish. This is the step where quality comes out. Keep in mind, however, that you can edit a piece from today until the day you transcend this earthly experience. Polish all you can, within your deadline.

C S S P: Commit + Sit + Silly + Polish. It's not a very catchy acronym, but that's how you git 'er done.

If you're writing in a journal, for heaven's sake omit the polish, just write something, even if it's your list of things to do this week.
The photo is by Anna Cervova. I got it from public domain pictures.