how I always know what to blog about next

Bloggers and writers will know about writer’s block. While i am personally not scared of a blank page (I worship at the altar of editing), it is useful to have a trigger when you need to write.

Some authors start the first sentence of their next chapter or paragraph and leave themselves with an outline of ideas and action points to look at when they continue.

I leave blog titles as drafts.

This is my trick, and I had tried several before this one stuck. Todo lists, actual paper notebooks, plain text notes synchronised to all devices via dropbox, post its near my laptop, you name it. Nothing stuck, truly and literally. Probably because any of those require leaving your writing environment when you’re most in the mood to write. Disruptive at best.

So now whenever I have an urge to write about something, I’ll launch my little WordPress blog (in a browser tab or in the WordPress app on iPad or iPhone) and quickly add a post, give it a title and categories – they help me remember what the angle was – and maybe a few bullets or a sentence or two to remind me what I wanted to say. Sometimes, especially if it’s in reply to a story or product launch, I’ll add the link to the thing that inspired me that time.

The key is doing it right away, which is where the ubiquity of smartphones and the availability of mobile apps for blogging come in. I use the WordPress app for iOS, but they also have android, blackberry, windows, and more:

So the next time I want to write, I can go to my blog, and either write a new article from scratch (like this one on the tube this morning… I couldn’t stop typing!!) or find a topic I am ready to elaborate on.

It makes things smoother and easier. And WordPress also has this lovely filter, a pull-down menu on the “posts” page of the admin site, which allows you to show all posts that are in draft status. Given I add in titles at random times and only finish some of them, showing me a list of the unfinished drafts alone is incredibly helpful. I recommended it to a friend who found it very useful. So I’m sharing!

(updated before publication) Yesterday, Mark Schaefer, of {grow} fame, made a similar comment: “start with the headline”.

Yes. Do. Start with the headline, follow with the punchline (we’re all late for something), and then elaborate your article. It really makes life easier for me. And maybe for you too!