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BlogbrainstormWe're in the middle of "cabin fever" season here in the Upper Midwest.  People are getting antsy and irritable.  Energy levels are down.  Motivation toward accomplishment is waning.  I've noticed a few of my favorite bloggers have been more sporadic in their postings.

Somebody recently asked me how I keep up with my blogging, given my schedule and other obligations.  They specifically wanted to know how I kept a fresh perspective on topics, given the fact that we're barely into February, winter is showing little signs of letting up in the foreseeable future, and the creative spirit in this environment isn't exactly inspirational.

The realization hit me back in December that the first quarter of 2007 was going to be busy.  Even though I'm not even billing full time at a client at the moment, I'm feeling relatively swamped.  However, I did not want to let my blogging slip (in timing or in quality).  It's just too important to me on many levels.  I started a running brainstorm list (month by month) to write out topics and/or post titles that interest me.  As new ideas come up throughout the month, I add them to the list.  Sometimes a word play pops up that would make a great post title, but I have no idea what the subject will be.  Sometimes events just arise which merit a post.  Sometimes inspiration just hits out of the blue.  But there are times when I'm feeling BLAH and would love to just pay somebody to be creative for me.  That's when I go to my "blog log."  After all, even creativity sometimes needs a little nudge.

Not every idea on the "blog log" makes it to a post.  Some get pushed out to subsequent months.  Some fall into the "That was a stupid idea; what was I thinking?" category.  However, just keeping a visible list in my office helps me stay on top of this vital business communication tool.  My question to my fellow bloggers:  what do you do to stay fresh?  to plan ahead?  to keep on top of things?  I'm curious how we can help each other make our blogs even better.


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Beth Peck

As you probably know, I am new to blogging, so this is a rookie's point of view. But, like you, I keep a list. Little things pop up throughout the day that might be good blog topics for our Creativity class and I jot them down. Since I am so new to it, I have lots of ideas! I can already see the appeal of blogging and plan to continue even after our class ends. I don't know who reads it, I hope somebody (besides just my mom!) What I really like about it is that it keeps me sharp through the day. When moments occur that have value- I now have a reason to chew on them a little bit more and then write about them. I find these little teachable moments everywhere!

Tom Haskins

When I launched my first blog (Clues to the College Blues) last August, used a very structured approach. I kept a folder of ideas for categories of postings, as well as titles and topics -- like your lists Tim. When I added a second blog (growing changing learning creating) in November, I loosened up and have found other ways to come up with ideas. The second blog was an outgrowth of other blogs I'm reading and commenting upon. Many ideas come from what other bloggers have said or the comments they received. I also realize I have more to say after commenting on someone's blog and then add to that idea on my own blog. The easiest posts to write are those that play around with a metaphor (like your wonderful "Cults Vs. Bares"). I find out about useful books from other bloggers and get a lot to write about after reading the book. Following the links in other bloggers' postings also provides a fertile ground for me to come up with more ideas. As I acquired experience with this freestyle approach, writing my first blog became less structured as well. I'm noticing that I will say something I did not plan on mentioning in a post. That unexpected idea becomes the basis for a new post the next day. Much of my blog writing is making more sense of what I know. I'm seeing old ideas in a new light or discovering new uses for familiar concepts. I've become curious about my blogging, not knowing what will come about tomorrow and fascinated by all I'm learning in the process.

Robert Hruzek

Tim, my experience has been similar to Tom's - everything seems to lead to something else! But in general, I use my Bloglines reader to keep clippings of the interesting posts I may want to use later to springboard an idea or whatever. I hate paper lists because I always lose them!

I also "collect" stuff for recurring features: odd or weird stories for one called OOB (Out Of the Box), interesting quotes, and every so often I'll empty out my reader's clippings file in a feature called File Cabinet. Then there are those posts I work on over time; every now and then I'll add a little more until they seem ready for prime time.

This lets me keep a few posts ready in case there's an occasional shortage of creativity, and I can start fresh every so often.

Timothy Johnson

Beth - glad the idea could add value, and I'm happy that you'll continue blogging after class is over. I've enjoyed reading your blog and comments... you're a natural.

Tom and Robert - don't worry, guys... I'm not throwing out my creative side. Being slammed in with schedule constraints, the list is purely my insurance policy against writer's block. My blogging is still fluid enough to accept the last minute idea ("Cults vs. Bares" was thought up a couple of hours before it was posted). I'll be back to being my normal, random self by April... I promise (unless, of course, my book is a raging success and I'm doing a major publicity tour... LOL...).

Troy Woran

Very nice. I like the idea of keeping the log visible. I wish I could say I am that organized, but alas, I am not. Perhaps I will post some pics of my idea book in the near future.

Timothy Johnson

Troy - thanks for the nod (and the link love). Organized or not, this is more of a survival tool for me right now. When I'm no longer on the road as much, then I'll slow down a bit and let random thoughts rule the day once again.

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